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Math Honors

CWU Math Honors Seminars

The math department offers two honors seminars every quarter, providing opportunities for our students to delve into topics in mathematics that are not covered in typical coursework.  Check out the information below to learn more about current honors seminars and past seminar topics.

Upcoming Honors Seminars - 2020 - 2021

Note that starting in Fall 2020 there will be a change to the offerings for the 207/407 courses. 

  • Math 407 will only be offered Fall, Winter, and Spring.
  • Math 207 will only be offered Winter. 
Quarter Quarter/ Course Course Description Course Instructor
Fall 2020 Math 407 Game, SET, Math! Dr. Boersma
Winter 2021 Math 207 Book Club: Mathematics for Human Flourishing Dr. Temple 
Math 407 Book Club: Gödel, Escher, Bach Dr. Wiegers
Spring 2021 Math 407 The Early Breaking of Enigma Dr. Boersma

Check out the topics and times below to learn more.

Math 407, Spring 2021: The Early Breaking of Enigma (31413)

Tuesday 3:00 - 3:50. Online. Instructor: Dr. Boersma.

World War II was fought in many different theatres and there are certainly hundreds or thousands of amazing stories of true war heroes from that era.  In this seminar, we will learn the story of three of them.  The German cipher machine, Enigma, played a crucial part in WW II and many talented individuals spent countless hours trying to decrypt the seemingly undecipherable messages which Enigma spit out and radio operators sent out over the airways for anyone to intercept.  Mathematics can help one understand the complexity of Enigma and, historically, mathematics played an important part in breaking this German cipher.  In fact, three polish mathematicians used the power of mathematics to begin to read enciphered German messages before WW II even started!  In this seminar we will build a working Enigma machine (for under $5), learn how to encrypt and decrypt, count the billions and billions of possible keys, and learn how some ingenious thinking coupled with mathematical theorems successfully broke the German cipher!

Recommended for students at all levels of mathematical experience.

Past Seminar Topics have included:

Lower-Division (Math 207)

  • Mathematics for Human Flourishing (Winter 2021, Temple)
  • Mathematical Iterations (Spring 2020, Boersma)
  • Mental Math (Winter 2020, Klyve)
  • The Math of Recreational Games (Fall 2019, Montgomery)
  • The Mathematics of Voting and Elections (Spring 2019, Boersma)
  • Math and Fiber Arts (Winter 2019, Temple)
  • Mechanical Computation (Fall 2018, Montgomery)
  • Mathematical Knot Games (Spring 2018, Wiegers)
  • Project Euler (Winter 2018, Linhart)
  • Mathematics of Social Justice (Fall 2017, Klyve)
  • Iteration (Spring 2017, Boersma)
  • Mathematics of the Game of Set (Winter 2017, Bisgard)
  • Probability Games (Fall 2016, Wiegers)
  • Math at Central Fieldtrip Seminar (Spring 2016, Wiegers)
  • Creating Contextual Problems (Winter 2016, Miller)
  • Mathematical Patterns  (Fall 2015, Wiegers)
  • Triangles
  • Number Theory
  • Weird Numbers
  • Recursive Functions
  • Intuitive Topology


Upper Division (Math 407)

  • The Early Breaking of Enigma (Spring 2021, Boersma)
  • Gödel, Escher, Bach (Part 1) by D. Hofstadter (Winter 2020, Wiegers)
  • Game, SET, Math!  (Fall 2020, Boersma)
  • Mathematical Biology (Winter 2020, Wiegers)
  • Applied Mathematics (Fall 2019, Wiegers)
  • Astrodynamics (Spring 2019, Montgomery)
  • Singular Value Decomposition (Winter 2019, Bisgard)
  • Math Meets the Real World (Fall 2018, Linhart)
  • Mathematical Knot Theory Questions (Spring 2018, Klyve)
  • Elliptical Curves (Winter 2018, Boersma)
  • Putnam Exam Preparation/ Problem Solving (Fall 2017, Bisgard)
  • Fractals Everywhere! (Spring 2017, Fassett)
  • Math and Art (Winter 2017, Wiegers)
  • Putnam Exam Preparation/ Problem Solving (Fall 2016, Bisgard)
  • Three-Dimensional Printing (Spring 2016, Wiegers)
  • Gödel, Escher, Bach (Part 1) by D. Hofstadter (Winter 2016, Wiegers)
  • Fractals and Chaos (Fall 2015, Fassett)
  • The sum-of-divisors function
  • Model Theory and Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem
  • Partially-ordered Sets

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