Brock U research studies integrating computer programming into mathematics education

When it’s raining outside and you want to stay as dry as possible, is it better to walk in the rain, or run?

It’s a question that wouldn’t be tackled in traditional ‘paper and pencil’ undergraduate mathematics courses, but educators at Brock University are teaching their students how to tap into the power of computers to model, simulate, visualize and choose the best alternatives in calculations.

“It’s using computer programming as an instrument to engage in mathematics investigations,” says Chantal Buteau, Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

“It’s taking a scientific, experimental approach to mathematics: asking questions, conjecturing, testing math problems or applications with programming and seeing the outcomes through computer simulations, then further tweaking the problem or model to continue the math work,” she says.

Buteau and fellow mathematicians Bill Ralph and Henryk Fuks are adapting the

European Mathematical Society’s view that, beyond theory and experimentation, “a third pillar of scientific inquiry of complex systems has emerged in the form of a combination of modelling, simulation, optimization and visualization.”

“Few post-secondary mathematics programs address this 21st century need by adapting the curricula to combine mathematics and computer programming,” says Buteau.

Brock is the exception.

For more details, please see the story in the Brock News