|MAA Executive Director to visit Davidson
November 05, 2012
Professor Michael Pearson, Executive Director of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), will visit Davidson for a full day of meetings with constituents and a lecture as part of our math coffee series, on Wednesday Nov. 14. Everyone is invited to the talk at 4:30 p.m. in Chambers 3155. Join us for preceding refreshments in math hall at 4:15.
Schedule on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012:
• 10:30-11:30 -- Meeting 1: "Innovations toward better serving students"
• 11:30-12:30 -- Meeting 2: "College readiness"
• 12:30-1:30 -- Michael has lunch with Davidson students
• 1:30-2:30 -- Meeting 3: "Community needs from MAA"
• 2:30-3:30 -- Meeting 4: "Sections"
• 4:30-5:30 -- Michael presents, "Stirling¹s Formula: A Monthly Habit"
Below are details on the meetings and Michael's talk.
Talk Title: Stirling's Formula: A Monthly Habit
Abstract: Stirling's formula provides a remarkably accurate asymptotic estimate for the growth of the factorial n! for large values of n. James Stirling provided a proof in 1730. Perhaps because of the simplicity of the formula and the ease of observing the basic form of the estimate, it's been attracting mathematicians ever since. In fact, it seems that there has been an average of at least three proofs per decade published in the American Mathematical Monthly over the last 70 years, as well as various other notes and articles that build on or expand Stirling¹s work. We¹ll take a discursive look at a few of these notes, with a bit of history of some of the contributors. And, in the end, we'll discover a simple way to compute the precise value of the asymptotic constant in Stirling's formula.
Innovations toward better serving students - Michael wrote, "I'm interested in hearing from faculty (in particular) who are doing interesting/innovative things that have the potential to serve as models for others. We will be looking for prototypes that we can sponsor as pilots in multiple locations that better-serve students, in the sense that more students both succeed and persist in mathematics courses ('just take the next course!'). Elements might include intelligent placement procedures, good models for advising/supporting students, effective use of on-line homework, restructured courses (or collections of courses, or entire majors) that seem to be doing a better job of engaging students."
College readiness - Such a theme would consider ideas on what to do with students as they transition into college. How do we express in a productive way what we'd like to see students' skill when they enter college? In what ways can we communicate such ideas to teachers, school systems and policy makers?
Community needs from MAA - Michael wrote, "Second on the list is listening to faculty who have a reasonable idea as to what the community needs from MAA (professional societies in general) to make their life easier/better. This might be text books (or 'course materials' more broadly, meant to include, e.g., on-line homework or other ancillary material), professional development opportunities at meetings that we don't currently offer, or something (ideally?) we simply haven't thought of yet."
Sections - What can the national office do or not do that would strengthen sections? The SE section is "particularly successful". How can the national office better serve the section and how can both better express the values of the MAA to further participation both at participating schools and institutions (like research-intensive) that tend to be less active.