Pizza Pi: Lessons on train schedules

Pi Mu Epsilon / Pizza Pi talk
Thursday, April 5, 2012, 11:30am-12:30pm.
Neville 421
Pizza at 11:30 am, Talk 11:50-12:30.

Dr. Eisso Atzema, University of Maine Math Department
Lessons on Train Schedules: From String Charts to Teaching Tools.

The early 20th-century was a time of major reforms in the teaching of mathematics all across the Western world. Among the many changes that were adopted was an increased emphasis on the use of the function concept in its various representations (sounds familiar?). In particular, in a very short time span, graphical illustrations of functions became commonplace in mathematics textbooks.

In this presentation, I will talk about the inclusion of so-called graphical railroad time tables (see figure above) as an example of such a graphical illustration. Among other things, I will discuss the origins of this real-life application of mathematics, its actual use, and how its inclusion in the textbooks evolved over time.