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Capstone Ideas

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Bryan Dorner

dornerbc@plu.edu

Some capstones can deal with the intersection of computers and mathematics. Capstones

along this line can take many forms.

1. Famous problems.

The Four Color Theorem. This theorem says that you only need 4 colors to color

any map so that adjacent countries have different colors. The only proofs known

require a computer to check all the possibilities. The big ideas in the proof and a

complete proof of the 5 color theorem have made good capstones in the past.

The Halting Problem. This problem from theoretical computer science says that

its impossible to write a computer program that takes as input any other computer

program and outputs whether or not that other program will terminate after a

finite number of steps. The ideas a somewhat similar to Goedel’s proof that there

are statements that are true, but cannot be proved, and also to proofs that there are

numbers that cannot be computed.

2. Games and Puzzles. Sudoku has become a very popular pastime. One way to really

understand the strategies would be to write a computer program to solve (and then to

generate) such puzzles. A capstone would require presenting the logic of such a

solution clearly and engagingly.

3. Algorithms

In the past, two students worked on methods for factoring large integers which

lies at the heart of efforts to break the RSA security code. There are other

methods which they did not cover.

You could work on historical and new methods for computing square and

higher roots as well as values of trig functions.I know a non-standard way of

computing sine, cosine, sinh, and cosh that suggests a geometric way to

approach the CORDIC method of computing these functions that is simpler

than the approach usually given. (Many calculators use the CORDIC

method.)

**Dr. Jessica Sklar
**

sklarjk@plu.edu

Past topics students have worked on include computational group theory, the Rubik’s

cube, Galois theory (an advanced topic in abstract algebra), tilings, error-correcting

codes, and topology. I am good good-to person on topics involving abstract algebra,

topology, or recreational mathematics (e.g., games or puzzles).

edu 1. 2. Stochastic Processes This subject combines probability theory with using time as a variable. Pick an area of math that interests you and we can narrow down the topic together. Dr. this leads to some interesting mathematical analysis. overviews of the history of a topic in mathematics. Mapping a portion of the spherical earth on a flat paper always introduces distortions. Dr. Teaching math through visits to art museums. Chris Meyer meyernc@plu. A surface in space on which the natural geometry is non-Euclidean Student should have had non-Euclidean geometry (M321) and be proficient with multivariable calculus. David Muller mullerdc@plu. Quadric surfaces Ellipsoids.Dr. etc.edu Any topic in the history of mathematics would make an interesting and creative capstone project. 5. 3. it has applications to physics (Brownian motion) and economics (the stock market). paraboloids. or the history of an idea over time. Amy Shell-Gellasch shellgae@plu. Student should be proficient with multivariable calculus. Any other historical topic is also welcome. Linear algebra can be used to classify them. I do not know much about this subject. Topics can range from biographical pieces. Topology Topology is the study of the properties of shapes that remain the same even under continuous distortion. Note that any capstone project must contain significant mathematical content. the history of an era or trend in mathematics. hyperboloids. 4. It uses probability.edu Math education topics Writing lessons that integrate math and art. Geometric properties of various map projections. . Information Theory This is an attempt to quantify what information is. 6. but I would enjoy learning with a student.

Dr. Jeffrey Stuart stuartjl@plu. Titles of capstones. Multipartite Graphs o Ramsey Theory o The Optimal Pebbling Number for Various Graphs o The Four Color Theorem o Shortest Path Algorithms Matrix Theory o Who is #1? Ranking Round Robin Tournaments o An Introduction to Subspace Iteration and the QR Algorithm o Homotopy Methods for Finding Eigenvalues of Tridiagonal Matrices o Generalized Inverses and Least Squares o Markov Chains and the Perron-Frobenius Theorem Mathematical Statistics o AR(p) Models in Time Series o Logistic Regression and Categorical Data Analysis o Improved Confidence Intervals for Binomial Probabilities o Surveys and Stratified Sampling o Probability. projects and theses that my students have done: Graph Theory o Maximum Matchings for Complete.edu I have directed 19 capstone projects at PLU since the Fall of 2001. Prior to arriving at PLU. I directed several undergraduate and masters projects that included an honors thesis and a master’s thesis. Blackjack and Card Counting Combinatorics o Generalizations of Pascal’s Triangle Optimization o Three Interior Point Methods and Their Performance on Small. Multipartite Graphs o Developing Algorithms for Finding Hamiltonian Cycles in Complete. Dense Problems o The Traveling Salesman Problem o Lemke’s Algorithm Financial Mathematics .

If you do not have a particular topic in mind. Nonlinear partial differential equations. we can discuss possible topics. Solving f(x) = 0 for x. Numerical analysis. 2. . Infectious Disease models. the SI model (AIDS). Skin cancer. Mei Zhu zhuma@plu. Fractals. Population models (Logistic model. optimization (numerical. Multiple Populations (sexually transmitted disease. 3. but these areas interest you. Nonlinear ordinary differential equations. Nonlinear partial differential equations.o Options Pricing and the Black-Scholes Merton Model o Financial Time Series I would be happy to be the go-to person for any topic that interests you and that broadly falls into one or more of the areas of graph theory. Mathematical Models using differential equations and/or numerical analysis. Mathematical Model of Marriage.edu 1. common cold). Nonlinear Models of Interactions of multiple Predator-prey Model. Elementary Epidemic Models: the SIR (susceptible-infectiveremoved) model (chickenpox). combinatorics (clever counting and interesting sequences). mathematical statistics and its applications. Linearization and stability of the models. matrix theory (numerical or algebraic). Numerical solution to differential equations. analytic or combinatorial). Developmental Biology: Why zebra has stripes and leopard has spots? Pattern formation on Butterfly wings. and the SIS model (gonorrhea.Models for studying epidemics such as the Black Death and AIDS. Other topics you may want to consider: o Generalized inverses of matrices (algebraic matrix theory) o Bootstrap methods in statistics (mathematical statistics) o Using asymptotic series and Pade approximation to efficiently compute the trigonometric and exponential functions (numerical analysis) o Linear and integer programming (optimization) Some software you may want to use for a project of the types listed above: o Minitab o MATLAB Dr. Infection in placenta. etc). financial mathematics.) f.

geometry.g. non-reform) or countries.g.edu Logic Building on the Halting problem: a study of Turing machines and other formalizations of the informal idea of algorithm (e. across curricula (reform vs. or calculus.S. It is also possible to focus on a particular topic. e. how are transformations taught across curricula. showing that they are all equivalent.seeing what you can prove if you are not allowed proofs by contradiction Hilbert's problems (this would be more of an exposition problem) Category Theory Math education Literature review and curriculum development (writing a lesson or a series of lesson) pertaining to social justice issues (teaching mathematics for social justice is in David Muller’s and my area of interest) Comparing textbooks in algebra. for example. Ksenija Simic-Muller ksimicmuller@plu. which leads to Church's thesis Godel's Incompleteness Theorems Godel's Completeness Theorem and its consequences (this would require learning first order logic first) Study of first order logic and its relationship to mathematics – more precisely. an international student could do a comparison of textbooks from her/his country and from the U.edu . functions (or a different concept): doing a literature review plus a small study in a school.Dr. computable functions. lambda calculus etc.literature review and possibly conducting a study Ethnomathematics Anne Cook cookaw@plu.). looking at proof systems in logic and seeing how well proofs in mathematics satisfy the general structure Axioms of set theory and some of their consequences Nonstandard analysis Intuitionist logic -. For example. if possible The gender gap in mathematics -. Students' perceptions of.

Proof of the Central Limit Theorem 3.1. Order statistics (http://en. . The Student's t distribution and its relationship to the normal distribution 2.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_statistic).

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