March 27, 2012
By: Joseph Y. Cordero
Mayaguez, P.R. – It is said that by the struck of an apple in his head, one of the biggest mathematicians in history got inspired to describe nature using math. Most people directly say “I am not going to use math in the future”, but it is used in a lot of fields and a group of people from Mayaguez take it very seriously. This is why the UPRM is selecting their calculus team Thursday, March 22, 2012 to compete in the annual UPR Calculus competition. For this reason, the university is giving a workshop on March 15.
“I will dare to say that math is in every single field of science, and some fields like social sciences are afraid to recognize
it,” said Dr. Reyes M. Albino, the president of the Calculus team. Reyes continued saying that Calculus is a great tool for analysis, as it “simplifies things”. Albino is a professor of mathematics in UPRM, and in his undergraduate years, was a member of the calculus team of the university. “(Calculus) provides a way … to construct … models of change, and to deduce their consequences” the MIT professor Kelitman says.
For 29 years, UPRM has won the first place more than half of the times in the competitions. On top of that, the UPRM has gotten all the first places for the last three years.
Ivan Rodriguez is a student from the electrical engineering department that was in the 2011 calculus team and is competing this year to qualify again. “The first year I competed, this was in 2010, I won the fourth place by surprise, and my second year, due to my preparation, I manage to win the first place.” said Rodriguez talking about the UPRM calculus competition. In addition, Rodriguez won the second place in the 34th competition celebrated in Cayey. Ivan also mentioned that the competitions have helped him greatly academically because the exam does not make him think just about how to solve math problem, but to analyze all type of problems. “If you are good at math, you can take this competition as a challenge.” said Ivan to students that might want to consider going to the competition.
The UPRM participation has been so influential that the university has been the only one in the 29 years of the celebration of the competition that has obtained a perfect score in the exam, as the UPRM news page indicates. The student responsible for this is Alexis Ortiz Pérez, who more than once got the first price in the annual competition.
The competitions are based on topics from Calculus I and Calculus II topics. The UPRM had a workshop on how to solve typical problems on the March 15. These topics involved limits, Riemann’s series, Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, Volume, and others. “It is a way to show students that the problems on the test are not so different from what is discussed in class”, said Dr. Reyes M. Albino, “It is a matter of understanding the definitions.” Dr. Albino thinks that the problem that students face when they are introduced to Calculus is that they find the logic difficult. He saidthat in math there is no room for intermediate answers, they are either right or wrong and that is the difficult part.
The person responsible for explaining the workshop was Ivan Rodriguez. He discussed the methodology of a series of problems that were given in the past exams. None of the problems discussed involved topics that were not given previously in the ordinary Calculus I and II. Although the process to get the answer was more sophisticated than the course’s problems, they were not far from being understandable when explained. By the half of the workshop, Dr. Reyes Albino made references to specific topics that could potentially be in the exam.
Word Count: 693
Kleitman, Daniel. Professor Kleitman’s Homepage. MIT Mathematics. Web. 2012.
Rodriguez, Ivan. Personal Interview. March 24, 2012
Omar, Javier, Matematicas de verdad en el Colegio. La Covacha Matematica. Web.2012
Ortiz, Reyes. Personal Interview. March 15, 2012.