Saturday, January 13, 2007

Primathlons and proofs

Work continues apace! I've managed to get all of the syllabi for this semester posted (280's can be found here, and 368's here.) In addition, I've got the first day's activities for 280 written up and ready to run, I'll get those posted soon.

I've got in touch with Deadrick, Nikola's colleague up in Maine who's just started teaching number theory for the first time up there in the Moose-covered hinterlands. Strangely enough, he's using the same book that I am, too! We're going to take this chance to keep in touch and compare notes as we proceed. I hope he'll take the opportunity to read along and post his thoughts during the semester.

The funnest aspect of 368 might be the Primathlon, a semester-long prime-finding event I'm sponsoring for the 368 folks in order to give them ample opportunities to earn extra credit. The deal: throughout the semester, they'll be allowed to submit proofs of primality to me (which proofs must consist of personal verification by algorithmic or theoretical means that the purported primes truly are prime). For such proofs they will earn extra credit, depending on how big are the prime numbers they find: for finding a prime with at least 10^k digits, they will earn k percentage points of extra credit in the class. Judging from the length of time it took my fairly sophisticated (relative to an introductory number theory course) strong pseudoprime primality test (with a handmade modular power function), run on Mathematica, to verify the primality of a 3000ish-digit primorial prime, I have a feeling I'm not going to be handing out extra credit like candy.

We'll see, though. I know most of the folks in that class already, and there are some pretty hardcore math majors among them!

Things get underway on Tuesday with Day One of Calculus I. I've got a dynamic exercise I'm going to use to make that first loooooooooooong class pass reasonably quickly. I've got a little bit of prep to do in all three classes before then, but I'm mostly there.

More later!

4 comments:

eliz said...

Dr. Patrick,

I have been checking your page almost everyday in hopes of seeing "Math 365 is now an info intensive" but have not seen it. So I hope you have some good news for me in class on Wednesday.

DocTurtle said...

Oh no!

I've not yet heard back from the Information Literacy Intensive committee yet. I submitted the application several weeks ago (last semester was still in session), but sometimes these committee things take a little while.

Fingers crossed!

Anonymous said...

Aaaaahh! I read this blog a few days back, and read about the Primathlon. I checked back today and realized that was the last post I had read. But seeing Primathlon again triggered a memory of a dream I must have had since that reading. In the dream, I was telling MY class about the Primathlon, and they were so excited about it! Thrilled looks, ooohs and aaahs, edge of their seat just aching to try for themselves, the whole thing. Think: the math class in Better Off Dead.

On another note, up here in Maine I got to walk between classes today, sans jacket, at about 0 degrees this morning. Do NC folks ever get to do that? :-)

Nikola

Maughta said...

Well, Nikola, you know Docturtle is always wearing shorts, sub-zero weather or not!