Dean’s Corner – First Edition

WBU flameI’m a little late in getting around to updating my blog (Natural Blogarithms) on my recent change in position at Wayland.  As of February 23, 2015, I am now the Dean of the School of Mathematics and Sciences.  (See Press Release)

Below is my first contribution to the “quarterly” newsletter.  I hope you’ll check it out and peruse the rest of the newsletter so you see what’s up in our school

Dean’s Corner

“I’m coming home…to the place where I belong!”

I actually remember it vividly, the spring of 1994, when I first walked onto the Wayland campus pondering the possibility of attending school here as an undergraduate.  I remember touring the campus and not even having a clue what I should be asking the recruiter. I had a head full of dreams but no clear vision of where my life could be headed.  I can also recall sitting in my very first course in the Moody Science Building, where my future mentor, Dr. Phil Almes, called me and several others to stay after class just so he could tell us he was glad to see us in his church the previous weekend.  It would be unfathomable to that younger version of me that somewhere down the road, I would be settling into the position of dean of this very school. Continue reading Dean’s Corner – First Edition

The Mathematics of Love

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, the whole of humanity is looking for answers on how to be truly happy in love, right?  And, certainly everyone is thinking of using the most powerful tool ever devised for answering life’s most difficult questions:

Mathematics, of course

Thanks to Hannah Fry’s TED talk posted today, we learn that Mathematics actually has a lot to say about optimizing your chances of finding love.  I’ve always been a big fan of hers, following her on Twitter (@FryRsquared), but this was an especially interesting talk.

In honor of Valentine’s day, check out the “Mathematics of Love”

Get “Things” for Free (An Excellent To-Do list app)

2014-11-21_9-33-48Before I moved all my action items to Trello, the “Things” app was my favorite To-Do list for getting things done (‪#‎GTD‬). It’s free this week if you want to try it out. I think they have separate apps for iPhone and iPad, so if you have both you might go ahead and get it now to try out later.

Remember, if you get a free app, it’s yours for good, even if they raise the price again later. So you could get it this week, then delete, but re-install it anytime in the future for free.

Apple is giving App Store customers something to be thankful for as its offering Things as its free App of the Week.


Blackboard Grader App for iOS

[Cross-posted on the E-Learning Pioneer – Blog of the Virtual Campus]

There is finally an app for Blackboard that has been designed with the online instructors in mind. The Blackboard Grader App is now available and gives instructors an option for reviewing, providing feedback, and grading student submissions to Blackboard Learn Assignments.

BbGrader_hero2_tcm21-7049 Continue reading Blackboard Grader App for iOS

Connect the Dots Like a Numerical Analyst

I have to say, teaching Numerical Analysis is one of the highlights of my job. Granted, my primary responsibility at Wayland is the Virtual Campus Director, and I will never teach Numerical Analysis online. Nevertheless, I LOVE it. In fact, the course banner that I use in Blackboard reinforces that fact to my students every time they log in:

Just as a for instance, I was able to get them to “solve” the age-old Connect-the-Dot problem. What is that, you ask? Well, simple: We all know, from the time we are toddlers, how to complete a Connect the Dot worksheet:

BUT, what is the mathematical solution? After all, math majors should look at the connect-the-dot worksheet and wonder, “What’s the equation of the solution?”

So today, as an introduction to using splines for interpolation, we derived the simple formulas for a piecewise linear interpolant:

Given a set of n+1 points with coordinates \{(x_j, y_j)\}_{j=0}^n, we can uniquely describe the piecewise linear function S(x) where S(x_i)=y_i for all i=0, 1, \ldots, n, as follows:

S(x)=\Big\{ S_j(x), \ \ x\in[x_j,x_{j+1}] \ \ , for j=0, 1, \ldots, n-1

where S_j(x)=a_j x+b_j,

a_j = \displaystyle \frac{y_{j+1}-y_j}{x_{j+1}-x_j},

And b_j = y_j - a_j x_j for j=0, 1, \ldots, n-1

At least, that’s the solution I told them in class today.  The truth is that’s not correct.  In fact, this will only “solve” the limited case where you always move left to right and never go back the other way.  What we really need is a parametric approach.  Given the initial data set above, we assign a parameter t \in \mathbb{R} to each point, say t=j for the point (x_j, y_j).  Then we have the following solution to the Connect-the-Dot problem:

Given a set of n+1 points with coordinates \{(x_j, y_j)\}_{j=0}^n, we can uniquely describe the piecewise linear parametric function \bar{S}(t) where \bar{S}(j)=(x_j,y_j) for all j=0, 1, \ldots, n-1, as follows:

\bar{S}(t) = \Big\{ \big\langle S_{j,x}(t), S_{j,y}(t) \big\rangle, for j=0, 1, \ldots, n-1

where S_{j,x}(t)=a_{j,x} t+b_{j,x} and S_{j,y}(t)=a_{j,y} t+b_{j,y}

a_{j,x} = x_{j+1}-x_j and a_{j,y} = y_{j+1}-y_j

b_{j,x} = x_j - a_{j,x} t and b_{j,y} = y_j - a_{j,y} t for j=0, 1, \ldots, n-1

That’s better, don’t you think?  From there we launched into a derivation of linear system approach to interpolation by natural cubic splines.  Then I ran out of time before finishing the derivation, which lead to the instagram post below…

That moment when class is over but you haven’t finished the proof… #mathteacherproblems

A photo posted by Scott Franklin (@splineguy) on

The Importance of Your Worldview

This week, I have the privilege and honor to lead the discussion in the Faith and Science course at Wayland.  The topic of discussion will be the importance of your worldview.  We start with a discussion on the 19th century masterpiece, “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions” by Edwin A. Abbot.

Then we’ll discuss a couple of readings:

Are Scientists Biased by Their Worldview

The Importance of Worldview

Slides for guided discussion:

9 Essential Settings for the Teacher’s iPad

When using your iPad to teach, particularly in the one-iPad classroom, you can run into a few frustrations with the technology. In spite of all the exciting new features you bring to the classroom with the iPad, there are also some headaches that come along with it.

Here are some of the settings that our teachers have discovered and implemented to help to alleviate many of those frustrations.

1. Use Side Switch to Lock Rotation

Tap the Settings icon on your home screen and go to the General tab. You can configure the side switch to either “Lock Rotation” or “Mute.” It is recommended that you change the default from “Mute” to “Lock Rotation.” This way you can switch from portrait to landscape mode when you move from one app to another, but while in the app, you can quickly lock the orientation.

Continue reading 9 Essential Settings for the Teacher’s iPad