Off on a Tangent 
A Fortnightly Electronic
Newsletter from the Hope College Department of Mathematics 
March 4, 2016  Vol. 14, No. 11

http://www.math.hope.edu/newsletter.html 
Next week's colloquium: Math and Art 
Title: The Creative World
Where Math and Art Collides 

Speaker: Paul Yu, Grand Valley State University  
Time: Tuesday, March 8 at 4:004:50 pm  
Place: VanderWerf 102 
Upcoming Colloquia 

There is one more colloquium that is currently
on the
schedule
for this semester.

Lower Michigan Mathematics Competition 

The 40th Annual Lower Michigan Mathematics Competition
(LMMC) will be held at Hope College this year on Saturday, April
9. Students from colleges and universities in Michigan
will gather to challenge themselves on ten interesting problems,
working together in teams of up to three people. The competition takes
place in the morning and after lunch there is a discussion of the
solutions. If you want to participate, you must sign up by Tuesday, March 29 (the day after spring break) by sending Prof. Cinzori's an email at cinzori@hope.edu. You may register as a team (of two or three) or individually (and you will be placed on a team). The picture shown with Hope Students holding the Klein Bottle Trophy for winning the LMMC is getting a bit old. It would be nice to have a victorious team so this picture could be updated! 
Summer workshop on big data available to undergraduates 

The University
of Michigan Biostatistics Department, in cooperation with the
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and Statistics
departments, is running a sixweek workshop this June and July in Ann
Arbor on
big data, targeted specifically at undergraduates. There is no cost to
attend, and accepted applicants will receive a stipend to cover living
expenses.
Lectures will be led by a diverse group of stellar biostatistics, statistics, electrical engineering, and computer science faculty at the University of Michigan. Working in teams, students will participate in mentored big data research projects. Application closes March 15, 2016. For more information about the workshop and an application visit https://sph.umich.edu/bdsi/ 
Department hosted Pizza and Game
Night


"Let it never be said that the math folks
don't know how to have fun!" quipped Dr. Andy McCoy, director of the
Ministry Studies program at Hope, as he passed by the room where
raucous laughter was erupting from the math department's Pizza and
Games night this past Wednesday night. Hope students, as well as
math professors and some of the professors' kids, all enjoyed an
evening of food and fun together. Thanks to Drs. Yurk and Koh for
their work in organizing this event, and thanks to all the students who
helped make it such a fun evening. 

Students
travel to Mathematics Education Conference 

On February 27th, five mathematics education
students attended the Math in Action conference at GVSU with Dr.
Mann. Sessions covered a variety of topics including the use of
online resources such as desmos.com and youcubed.com, the challenge of
promoting perseverance in the classroom, math magic tricks, and number
talks. Upon their return, the Hope students were excited to have been exposed to a plethora of resources that could be used in their future classrooms. The Math in Action conference was valuable opportunity to dialogue with other preservice teachers and with educators coming from a variety of backgrounds. Other math educators would benefit greatly from attending this conference in the future. 
Math in the News: Zipf's Law and Project Gutenberg 

Zipf's
law, named after linguist George Zipf, states that the frequency of any
word is inversely proportional to its rank. Thus the most frequently
occurring word will appear approximately twice as often as the second
most frequently occurring word, three times as often as the third most
frequently occurring word, and so on. This same relationship is
supposed to hold true with other rankings such as population ranks of
cities, income rankings, and so on. Zipf's law was recently tested using the entire collection of Englishlanguage texts in the Project Gutenberg, a freely accessible database with over 30,000 books in English. According to a report in Phys.org, in an analysis where the rarest words are left out (those that appear only once or twice throughout a book) 55% of the texts fit Zipf's law and if all the words are taken into account then 40% fit Zipf's law. How might this edition of Off on a Tangent fit Zipf's law? 
Problem
Solvers of the Fortnight 
Problem
of the Fortnight 
Suppose three red
checkers and two black checkers are arranged in an alternating pattern
along a line (as shown in the figure below).
You are allowed to move the checkers as follows: By placing the tips of the first and second fingers on any two touching checkers, one of which must be red and the other black, you may slide the pair to another spot along the line. The two checkers in the pair must touch each other at all times. The checker at left in the pair must remain at left; the checker at right must remain at right. Gaps in the chain are allowed at the end of any move except the final one. After the last move the checkers need not be at the same spot on the line that they occupied at the start. A. What is the smallest number of moves that will rearrange the checkers so that the three red checkers are on the left and the two black checkers are on the right (as shown in the figure below)  and how do you do it? B. Now answer the previous question assuming now that you are allowed to move two checkers of the same kind. Write your solution on a single sheet of paper, with part A on one side and part B on the other. On your solution, show the configuration of numbered checkers that results from each move (along with a short description of what each move does), and at the end, clearly indicate the total number of moves. Drop your solution in the Problem of the Fortnight slot outside Professor Mark Pearson's office (VWF 212) by 3:00 on Friday, March 11. As always, be sure to include your name and the name(s) of your math professor(s)  e.g. Bobbi Fisher, Professor Casper Rove  on your solution. Good luck, and have fun! 
Off
on a Tangent 