In light of the D Kane post above and the blaming of Prof Burger for the Kane-perceived failure of Williams as an educational institution, this post is resurrected for the positive changes to math teaching in the past years it presents.

Math postcards by John S Dykes

“In the late 1980’s … the College graduated about a dozen math majors each year. But new department chair Frank Morgan and some of his colleagues contemplated a more inclusive view of the discipline they variously describe as “beautiful,” “pleasurable” and “creative.” “Everybody deserves a chance to do this,” Morgan says. “It’s like music—people should have a chance to enjoy math.”

So says The Alumni Review in the January ’11 issue.

Would Donald Richmond, head of the department have said that? And what of Volney Hunter Wells, Professor Emeritus?

I am sure that in the nerdish contingent of EphBlog, there are many who have sent home the postcards so wonderfully rendered by John Dykes. But what of the whimperings of one roommate freshman year taking Calc 1-2? And he played goalie on the hockey and lacrosse team, so he was used to having his head beat in.

Speak up, ye Eulogists of Euler! Is it really music?

More data here.
The Williams line-up for the Math Department in the ’55-’56 season:

And this from the article in the Alumni News, this on the math extensions beyond the olden days expected and dreaded Calc 1-2:

No one denies the debts to Babbage, Euclid, Archimedes and the rest—courses in the College Bulletin still include multiple forms of calculus, geometry and algebra, as well as number theory, probability and topology. But typically there are less-traditional offerings, too:
• “Mathematical Politics: Voting, Power, and Conflict.” Allison Pacelli brings quantitative analysis to social issues ranging from the 2000 election recount to the division of marital assets.
• “The Art of Mathematical Thinking: An Introduction to the Beauty and Power of Mathematical Ideas.” Ed Burger examines the roles of the imagination and creativity in solving mathematical and non-mathematical problems.
• “Protecting Information: Applications of Abstract Algebra and Quantum Physics.” In a course taught with physicist Bill Wootters, Susan Loepp looks at classical cryptography and error correction, a critical technique in telecommunications and computer science.
• “Computational Statistics and Data Mining.” The raw material is huge data sets—collected by credit card banks, the NSA, pharmaceutical researchers—and statistics professor Dick De Veaux shows his students how to find “small, important needles in haystacks.”
Meanwhile, during Winter Study, mathematicians tend to “go wild and crazy,” says Colin Adams. Among the classes taught:
• “Mathematics of the Rubik’s Cube” with Mihai Stoiciu
• “Displaying Multivariate Data” with Bernhard Klingenberg
• “The Art and Science of Baking” with Allison Pacelli
• “Contemporary Movie Criticism” with Carsten Botts
• “Introductory Photography: People and Places” with Cesar Silva
• “Modern Dance” with Dick De Veaux

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