Math: What is it Good For? (Part 1)

Wondering just how higher math applies to real life? Sitting in your geometry class wondering how Heron’s Formula or rigorous definitions of convexity will ever be useful to you? Well, from the summer of 2012 through January of 2013, I worked with my adviser and a few other undergrad students at Lyndon State College on a research project to find a mathematical solution to the political problem of gerrymandering. We wanted to find a way to calculate the area of the largest convex polygon that could be drawn inside of a given non-convex polygon (where the non-convex polygon represents the legislative district). The idea was to find the ratio between the area of the district and the area of this largest inner convex polygon; a low ratio meant a nicely-shaped district. The folks in charge of redistricting could then use this ratio to draw new districts in an apolitical way. I wrote one of the computer programs for this project (and yes, I used Heron’s Formula), and the team and I presented our work at a Faculty Fellow Presentation at Lyndon State College in April 2013. Just last week, my adviser presented our work at the Joint Mathematics Meetings of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America in Baltimore, MD. We are now hoping to having the work published. Stay tuned for more developments. Now who says geometry isn’t useful?

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About eemilne

My name is Erin Milne, and I am a mathematics student and teacher. I earned my master's in math from the University of Vermont, and I received my undergraduate education from Lyndon State College. My goal for this blog is to make mathematics interesting, useful, and non-frightening, as well as to inspire other low-income and first-generation students to continue their education. I hope this blog will be helpful, inspiring, and thought-provoking for high school and college students facing the same challenges that I have faced.

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eemilne

eemilne

My name is Erin Milne, and I am a mathematics student and teacher. I earned my master's in math from the University of Vermont, and I received my undergraduate education from Lyndon State College. My goal for this blog is to make mathematics interesting, useful, and non-frightening, as well as to inspire other low-income and first-generation students to continue their education. I hope this blog will be helpful, inspiring, and thought-provoking for high school and college students facing the same challenges that I have faced.

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