|Michael Mossinghoff, Professor of Mathematics
February 12, 2013
Michael Mossinghoff, Professor of Mathematics
Q: What aspect of teaching at Davidson do you most appreciate?
A: The opportunity to teach in more than one field. I enjoy teaching in math and computer science, and at Davidson it's great to have the opportunity to teach both.
Q: What is your current academic pursuit outside the classroom?
A: I've got a number of projects in number theory and combinatorics. One is an old question known regarding certain mathematical objects with some really nice properties and applications, but the rub is that many believe that no more of these objects exist, past the few that are known. I've been extending what's known about these objects with a combination of mathematical arguments and plenty of computation. Another project aims to show that a particular mathematical phenomenon that at first seems to be quite rare is in fact very common -- it just takes a long time for the more common case to begin appearing.
Q: What's your favorite student event?
A: Graduation. It's the culmination of a lot of work by our students, and it's great to see them about to enter the next big phase of their lives.
Q: What's your favorite extracurricular activity?
A: I'm a regular at Cannon Pool at the Baker Sports Complex. At home, I enjoy playing board games with my family. I also enjoy crosswords and other word puzzles.
Q: What courses have you created?
A: I've created a number of new courses at Davidson. Some are core topics in computer science -- "Analysis of Algorithms," "Programming Languages," and "Theory of Computation." Another course, "Cryptology," combines aspects of mathematics and computer science. Finally, my course in "Mathematics and Politics" takes a mathematical point of view on several problems about politics, including elections, Congressional apportionment, quantifying political power, and dividing resources fairly.
Q: What's your favorite non-academic book?
A: It's hard to choose, but I'll pick one I read in high school that was influential in my future education: Godel, Escher, Bach: The Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas Hofstadter. This book is about some of the most
surprising results in twentieth-century mathematics, but it's written for a broad popular audience. More broadly, it looks at intricate structure and self-reference in math, art, and music, all with some very clever,
Q: What are your hidden talents?
A: I can read German reasonably well, which is pretty handy in math. Also, I play guitar occasionally.