CS Students Present Research in Italy

by Scotty Smith on July 26, 2016

Thomas, Maya, and Randall at Lake Como.

Thomas, Maya, and Randall at Lake Como

In the Spring of 2015, now graduated Seniors Thomas Lux, Randall Pittman, and Maya Shende took part in a course on Machine Learning taught by Dr. Anil Shende in the Computer Science department. As part of this course, these students explored how they could use their new found talents to aid the Roanoke College admissions department.

Thomas, Maya, and Randall presenting their research.

Thomas, Maya, and
Randall presenting their research.

The students continued their work through the 2015-2016 academic year, which resulted in a paper being accepted to the Workshop on Big Data Analytics held in conjunction with the ACM International Conference on Computing Frontiers in Como Italy this past May.

Thomas, Randall, and Maya presented their research twice during the course of their trip: Once as a presentation at the workshop, and again as a poster at the overall conference. They received many compliments on their work, presentation, and their ability to field questions.

Randall, Thomas, and Maya at the Roman Colosseum .

Randall, Thomas, and Maya at the Roman Coliseum .

And of course, what trip to Italy would be complete without some sight-seeing! Aside from visiting Lake Como, the CS crew decided to take some time traveling to various locations near by, such as the Duomo in Milano, the Roman Colosseum and Forum, the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, and more.

And of course enjoyed plenty of coffee and gelato during their visit!


C RC Publish

by Roland Minton on June 28, 2016

Aaron graph

Karin Saoub is finalizing a deal with CRC Press to publish A Tour Through Graph Theory. This will be the first textbook to present graph theory to a general audience, such as students in Karin’s INQ 241 course. Graph theory is the mathematics of network connections, which can be applied in an increasingly large number of modern settings in our digital world. The internet, cell phone connections, Twitter networks, and many more are ready-made graph theory structures. The rankings of web pages for Google, the rankings of sports teams, the spread of rumors, the spread of diseases, and others are less obviously graph theory problems. The above graphic is part of a study of Roanoke City food deserts by RC student Aaron Jackson. The ubiquity of these applications makes Karin’s book a timely one.

The network of Roanoke College mathematics faculty who have published with CRC Press continues to grow. Dave Taylor started it with his The Mathematics of Games: An Introduction to Probability and Roland Minton followed with his soon-to-released Sports Math: An Introduction to the Mathematics of Sports Science and Sports Analytics. Karin’s is the third this decade, representing impressive productivity and important contributions to education nationwide.

The three books illustrate the state of mathematics education at Roanoke: creative faculty who use culturally relevant applications to pull students into fascinating aspects of mathematics. Dave’s book uses board games like Monopoly, dice games like Farkle, and Vegas games like Blackjack to motivate the fundamental concepts of probability theory. Roland’s book applies some of the basics of physics and statistics to the world of sports. The statistical portions can serve as a tutorial for groups like the Stat Crew at Roanoke. Karin’s book has Facebook friendship graphs and road maps for the most efficient UPS-like delivery route.

There is more to mathematics than most people suspect, and we explore many aspects of it at Roanoke College!

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All Square with Math and Art

by Roland Minton on May 6, 2016


One of the definitions of square is “conventional” or “boring.” This spring’s art gallery presentation by Jan Minton’s Honors 301 class puts the lie to that. The phrase “mind blown” was used in at least one student’s description of her work.

Students in the Mathematics and Art class created visual representations of how you can think outside the box with the humble square. Above, Mackenzie Connolly discusses her Pythagorean tree, which is composed of numerous representations of the famous Pythagorean Theorem. One interesting product of this is that the total area of each color used is the same (red equals orange equals yellow …)!

Below, Sloane Fisher explains that the pink and orange fabric pieces in her work are squares. That is, they are squares in hyperbolic geometry, a type of geometry that is mathematically valid and useful, if a tad disorienting.


Jan Minton’s contributions were tasty. She designed and 3-D printed cookie cutters in the style of M.C. Escher.


The cats and birds below are each based on square tilings. Imagine a batch of square tiles laid out to cover a floor. Then curve the sides of each tile so that the top of the tile fits into the bottom, and the left side of the tile fits into the right side. A little more work and you’ve got the cats and birds shown below.

square4  square5

Creativity and beauty, starting with the mathematics of squares. The exhibit All Square in the Honors classroom in New Hall is decidedly unconventional and interesting.




RC Students + MAA Conference = Crazy Fun!

April 22, 2016

The weekend of April 15, five Roanoke College students and three faculty members traveled to Germantown, MD to attend the Spring MAA Sectional Meeting, which was held at Montgomery College. This conference attracts a wide variety of mathematicians from MD, DC, and VA. Some are more applied mathematicians, some are more pure mathematicians, most are researchers, […]

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Roanoke College Represents at the MAA

April 22, 2016

Some people wear many hats; in Dave Taylor’s case, two of them are chairs. Dave, who chairs the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Physics, is now chair-elect of the Maryland-DC-Virginia section of the Mathematical Association of America. Dave was elected to this position at the section meeting at Montgomery College (Md) April 15-16. It […]

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Physics majors participate in Edgar Allen Poe theatre production

April 21, 2016

The members of the Physics Group often advertise that “physics goes with anything.”  More formally, we maintain that there is no academic endeavor where the creative problem-solving approaches introduced in physics are detrimental.  In ten years of physics majors at Roanoke, we can list the following double majors: biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, math, music, philosophy, psychology, […]

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Money: Students Present Sports Analytics Research

April 18, 2016

Taylor Ferebee and David Moreau presented research posters at the Carolina Sports Analytics Meeting, which included representatives from the Charlotte Bobcats and ESPN: The Magazine. Taylor’s work on graphical representations and metrics of soccer effectiveness focused on passing statistics. David’s work on the relationship between golf consistency and effectiveness in different aspects of the game […]

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Physics students present science experiments to local Girl Scout troop

April 17, 2016

  According to our students, a major (possibly, “the major”) goal of undergraduate studies is to discover one will be doing for ‘the rest of my life’.  This especially true in the sciences, where a high value is placed on finding the right answer within a problem-solving context, and then it is assumed that this […]

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Physics students write welcoming cards

April 16, 2016

April is probably the busiest month for both physics students and their professors.  On top of the culmination of classes, we are also in the midst of planning our honor society banquet and hiring a new visiting professor.  So, when the admissions department asked us to write personal letters to all accepted and deposited students, […]

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Beware the Pi’s of March!

March 23, 2016

Last week was a busy week for the MCSP department at Roanoke College. March 14 is known as Pi Day to many people, and it is a day celebrating the number Pi = π ≈ 3.14159… π cannot be written as a fraction, which is part of the reason why it is so intriguing. People spend […]

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