While most AU students were trudging through below-freezing weather at the start of the semester, two mathematics majors were presenting their research project at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in sunny San Diego, California.
Both Christina Coats and Ashley King were ecstatic when they discovered that they had been invited to present their research, titled “On the Creation of Rank Two Centrosymmetric Matrices,” at the largest mathematics conference in the world.
“When I found out we were going to have the opportunity to go to San Diego, I was ecstatic,” said King. “I love traveling, and I had never been to California before. Also, the idea of getting away from Indiana’s cold January weather for a couple days was a plus.”
The two students, along with fellow mathematics major Emily Miller, who is studying abroad this semester, had begun their research at the start of the fall 2017 semester.
“A centrosymmetric matrix is a matrix that, when rotated 180 degrees, is the same matrix as the original,” Coats explained. “We tried to see if we could create matrices from two vectors using the outer product with certain stipulations.”
The students worked diligently throughout the semester, meeting regularly with their faculty advisor, Dr. Lee Van Groningen, to go over their research.
“Ashley, Emily, Dr. Van Groningen and I met every Thursday after chapel to go over what we had discovered and figure out the next logical direction to take with the project,” said Coats. “It took quite a lot of time to get to where we are, and understand what we are doing. In the beginning stages of our research, I got hung up on the fact that our research didn’t have any immediate implications. We are just doing math for math’s sake, and that’s okay.”
At the conference, Coats and King set up their poster, answered questions and interacted with other math enthusiasts from around the world.
“The conference was memorable, getting to see how math can relate to our individual interests,” said King.
Coats and King, neither of whom had visited California before, also took some time to dip their toes in the Pacific Ocean, explore the city and visit local eateries.
“We also had fun while we were there. Putting my feet in the Pacific Ocean for the first time was very memorable, as well as eating at a crazy busy In-N-Out and seeing a seal in the ocean,” said Coats.
The experience gave Coats and King an even deeper appreciation for their field of study.
“The conference expanded my view of mathematics,” said Coats. “I had no idea that so many people were so passionate about it, and that there were so many topics I have never heard about. I have a lot to learn.”