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Mathematics and Statistics | Discrete Observer

About the Discrete Observer

Submissions to the Discrete Observer


Professor Frances Van Dyke

Great Ideas in Mathematics is different. Instead of focusing on mechanics and equation solving, the course emphasizes the key concepts underpinning mathematics.


Department Chair Assumes New Position

Professor Frances Van Dyke

A chair in Professor Frances Van Dyke's office has been moved slightly so that it has a better view of an elm tree. The chair has been a fixture in the department for 18 years.


Catalyst, American University’s science magazine, is designed to inform you about scientific research and results that affect us all. Catalyst is written by students, features many student projects, and aims to spark the scientific imagination of the AU community.


Kerwin Must Enroll in Finite Math Pending Investigation

Cornelius Kerwin 

TENLEYTOWN - President Cornelius Kerwin is under investigation for failing to fulfill his mathematics requirement while enrolled as a student at The American University.


Misleading Sign Leads Students Amiss


WASHINGTON, DC - A new American University campus landmark has unintentionally misdirected unsuspecting students, with potentially disastrous consequences.


Professor Jeff Adler

Why math? I liked mathematics even as a small child, but this is not unusual; what’s unusual is that I failed to lose interest in the fourth grade
Personal Website
CAS Connections Newsletter / October Edition


Numbers Probe Fingers Jernigan


Charges continue to swirl around Professor Robert Jernigan as investigators pore through a cache of FBI documents recently seized from Jernigan's American University office. Jernigan is the alleged model for the lead character Dr. Charles Epps on CBS's hit show Numb3rs.


AU Math Prof Brings Real World into Classroom

Meet Dr. Cadaver, Mathemortician. That is the pseudonym of Professor Sweeney Todman. But to Professor Todman, the Dr. Cadaver character is more than just a dramatic role — it is a matter of life and death.


Remembering F.O.Vechs

Friedrich Oliver Vechs (1907-2005) is one of those figures one encounters so seldom in the history of mathematics, who made absolutely unremarkable contributions to the field and yet, paradoxically, seems not to have been completely unforgotten.

Math Student Missing After Math Mishap


Tragedy struck this cloistered campus community last night with the disappearance of popular math student Stan Slapernarski. Although details are sketchy, it appears that Slapernarski (known as Slap throughout the university) fell victim to a Halloween stunt gone awry.


Dean Falls for Rock Star!

"Rock On!" With those words and a searing guitar riff, Artur Elezi, lead guitarist for Smashing Melons unleashed a heavy metal tour de force not seen since the Melons' legendary Farewell Concert nearly five years ago at Britain's Royal Hall.




The Department of Defense (DOD) is investigating the excessive use of polyester by American University (AU) faculty and students in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, calling their hoarding of the material an "unpatriotic act".


Math Professor uses Biostatistics to Understand Disease Outbreaks

Mathematics is not only about theorems and proofs. Just ask AU math professor Monica Jackson. In addition to teaching introductory and graduate-level courses, Jackson also conducts medical research by developing statistical models of disease outbreak.


AU Prof Wins Lifetime Supply of Energy Drink

American University Math Professor I-Lok Chang, won the prestigious Taurus Prize for his work on the performance edge gained by athletes and intellectuals when they drink energy potions containing taurine, caffeine, and lots of sugar.





The Shapes of Numbers

It's easy to picture a Riemann surface. Think of a sphere or a donut or a pair of pants. Now imagine that the points on these surfaces correspond in a precise way to complex numbers. You get a mathematical structure that seems to have applications all over the place in mathematics.


Two Views of the Pythagorean Theorem

The familiar Pythagorean theorem states that if a right triangle has legs a and b and hypotenuse c, then a² + b² = c². In geometric terms, we can think of a², b², and c² as the areas of three squares, one on each side of the triangle. Although this is one of the most useful facts in analytic geometry, and just about everyone has heard of it, not everyone knows a proof. Do you?


Pennsylvania More Powerful than Texas

In the 2000 election, Jason Richwine (MATH '04) understood more about the mathematics behind determining voting power than most campaign advisors.Richwine, winner of an American University 2003 CAS Research Award, used math to determine the relative power of individual states in presidential elections.


The term "radar" may invoke thoughts of target selection or methods to detect and curb smuggling through coastline surveillance. It probably doesn't prompt thoughts about the mathematical equations and theories behind those radar systems. Or does it? It did for mathematics professor John Nolan, who has designed several programs for these radar systems.
"Mathemagician" Shares Secrets with AU

For most people, mathematics and fun go together like ... well, like mathematics and fun. The Friday evening before Halloween, however, more than 50 AU students, faculty, and staff filled Ward 1 with excited applause and laughter ....