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High school students conduct math research at Texas State

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
August 17, 2010

Twenty-four high school students chose to dedicate their summer to original mathematics research during the 21st annual Honors Summer Math Camp (HSMC) at Texas State University-San Marcos.

The HSMC is conducted by the Mathworks program at Texas State. Advanced participants have the opportunity to work with math faculty on research at the level of undergraduate or graduate projects.

Texas Mathworks

During the six-week camp graphs were drawn, numbers crunched and new theories created, all by young students. Alexandra Ilic and Kevin Tian, both second time participants of the HSMC, were guided by professor Nathaniel Dean on their project, “Power Dominating Sets of Specific Classes of Graphs.” The two investigated mathematics in the field of graph theory. Their work has real-world applications for networks, such as electrical grids and internet traffic monitoring. Finding the minimal number of measurement devices required to monitor an entire power grid falls into the realm of graph theory mathematics. Other projects looked into game theory, number theory and image smoothing algorithms.

"After six weeks of work on this project, we not only gained a lot of insight into the project, and the theory it described, but also made our own extensions in the field," Tian said. "Students with solutions would present their differing approaches to solving the problem, and everyone would work together to gain a better understanding of the subject. The Honors Summer Math Camp isn't about competition; it's about learning together."

Many of these research projects will be submitted to the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, with results to be announced Oct. 22. Top prizes in the competition include a $100,000 college scholarship. In 2009, a team of three students from the HSMC won first place overall in the competition. However, these students all realize that the real reward is the joy of discovery and creating new frontiers in mathematics.

Texas State faculty who were research mentors included professors Dean, Eugene Curtin, Weizhen Gu, Xingde Jia, Qiang Zhao, Alex White, and Jian Shen--all of the Department of Mathematics. Professor Gary Beall from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry also mentored a project. In addition, professor Edward Early from St. Edward’s University mentored a group of students.

About Mathworks

Texas Mathworks is a center for innovation in mathematics education at Texas State. With numerous outreach programs and summer math camps, Mathworks enlists both students and faculty in developing model programs and self-sustaining learning communities that engage Texas students from all backgrounds in doing mathematics at a high level.

For more information, contact Mathworks at (512) 245-3439, or visit the website at