CWUNews FeedNews Feed Math Modelers Among Best in the World, 22 Apr 2014 14:53:56<p>At the 2014 Mathematical Competition in Modeling (MCM), teams from Central Washington University earned rankings in the top 10 percent of more than 6,700 universities and colleges from all over the world. Both CWU teams earned a Meritorious ranking—one of the highest honors teams can receive. CWU was one of only three schools in the United States in which all the teams were rated as Meritorious.</p><p>“I’ve known that our students were exceptional, but to see both teams score this high is really extraordinary,” said James Bisgard, mathematics professor and the advisor to CWU’s modeling teams. “In the seven years I’ve advised teams, we’ve had a total of ten teams compete.”</p><p>The MCM is an annual international competition, with teams of three students developing and analyzing mathematical models to address real world questions. This year's competition had a choice of two challenges. In one, the team would develop a ranking for college coaches over all sports and times periods. In another, the team would develop a model for traffic flow determining whether or not the keep-right-except-to-pass rule is useful.&nbsp;</p><p>The two MCM teams chose different problems. The team of John-Paul Mann, Nathan Minor, and Benjamin J. Squire chose Problem A, the Keep-Right-Except-To-Pass-Rule. Adam Brand, Albany Thompson, and Nathaniel Deardorff chose Problem B, College Coaching Legends.</p><p>“The MCM is one of the greatest opportunities I've been involved with thus far in my college career,” said John-Paul Mann, a senior who is majoring in both mathematics and physics. “It provided a great opportunity to apply all the skills I've developed throughout my studies, including math, physics, logic, data analysis, effective essay writing, and most importantly team collaboration. Having all our hard work and hours pay off with a great standing in the competition wasn't too bad either.”</p><p>Such problems are exceptionally difficult, because of the inherent vagueness of “best” or “useful.” As a result, there is no single right answer for these types of problems. Teams are judged by the cleverness of their model, as well as how well they communicate their model and its results in a written report.</p><p>The MCM competition lasts only 96 hours: from 5:00 p.m. on Thursday until 5:00 p.m. the following Monday (Pacific Standard Time). Teams must work almost around the clock to develop a model and to write a report. This year’s competition was held February 6-10 and judging was completed in March. The results will be posted on April 29.</p><p>The MCM is sponsored by COMAP, the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications, an award-winning non-profit organization whose mission is to improve mathematics education for students of all ages. Since 1980, COMAP has worked with teachers, students, and business people to create learning environments where mathematics is used to investigate and model real issues in our world.</p><p><br>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,</p><p>&nbsp;</p>Attention Spy Kids! Krytpos, a Codebreaking Challenge, Begins April 10, 07 Apr 2014 11:58:26<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 448px; height: 252px;"></p><p>From the <em>Da Vinci Code</em> to <em>Windtalkers</em>*, people are fascinated by secret messages, encryptions, and ciphers. Now students have a chance to see if they have what it takes to be a code breaker!</p><p>The Kryptos competition is a unique codebreaking challenge developed by Central Washington University mathematics professor Stuart Boersma, and his colleague, Cheryl Beaver, a Western Oregon University mathematics professor. Open to undergraduate students, Kryptos is centered on the breaking, or cryptanalysis, of ciphers (secret writing). Each challenge presents contestants with a brief scenario together with some ciphertext (encoded message). The goal is to discover the original English plaintext message.</p><p>“Although this is primarily for college undergraduates, I certainly welcome contestants from high schools,” said Boersma. “While most of our students are from the Pacific Northwest, since this is an online contest, people can enter from just about anywhere in the world.”</p><p>Individual undergraduate students, or teams of up to three, are eligible to participate. Each individual or team must have a faculty sponsor to register. Last year, there were more than 100 entrants. Even if you don’t qualify as a contestant, you can go to the Kryptos website,, to look at the previous years’ challenges and solutions—and test your skills as a cryptanalyst.</p><p>According to Boersma, who is teaching an upper level mathematics course in cryptology this spring, many of the challenges are based on historical ciphers that pre-date World War II. And while computers can be helpful in breaking some of the codes, most can be solved—if a little tediously—with paper and pencil.&nbsp;</p><p>“The main objective is to have fun,” said Boersma. “Most students with a little familiarity with ciphers or code-breaking will be able to solve the challenges. They aren’t overly technical nor do they use advanced mathematical algorithms.”</p><p>He continues, “While we haven’t had a challenge in Navajo—yet—there was an audio challenge in a previous year!”</p><p>When the contest begins at 4:00 p.m. on April 10, the 2014 Cipher Challenges will be posted on the Kryptos website. Solutions need to be submitted by 4:00 p.m. April 14. All times are Pacific Daylight Time.</p><p>For more information, go to the Kryptos website,, or e-mail Stuart Boersma,</p><p>The contest is sponsored by the Pacific Northwest section of the <a href="">Mathematical Association of America.</a></p><p>*<em>Windtalkers</em> is a 2002 film about the use of the Navajo code in World War II. The Navajo code was based on: 1) the Navajo language—an extremely difficult language; and 2) a code embedded in the language, meaning that even native speakers would be confused by it. Supposedly, this code was close to unbreakable, and so difficult that only a few people could actually learn it. (from Wikipedia)</p><p><br>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,</p>Juggling Math Professor Receives MAA National Teaching Award, 04 Feb 2014 11:48:58<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 213px; height: 320px;"></p><p>Juggling. Weird numbers. Mozart. What do these things have in common? They have Dominic Klyve [KLEE-vee], an uncommonly gifted mathematics professor at Central Washington University.</p><p>Klyve recently received the national Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching from the <a href="">Mathematics Association of America</a>. Klyve is the first winner from Washington State in the 18-year history of the award. The Alder Award goes to individuals whose teaching has been extraordinarily successful and who have had influence beyond their own classrooms.</p><p>“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Klyve. “It gives national recognition to my department and my students, as well as being a tremendous honor for me. This wouldn’t have been possible if I had been at an institution other than Central—because our math department is so good, and is so deeply engaged in teaching.”</p><p>In his first four years at Central, he has taught a surprising variety of classes, developed new ones, and founded a Mathematics Honors Program. He has engaged first-year statistics students in analyzing a countywide nutrition survey, where they discovered a statistically significant link between freezers and hunger. His undergraduate students have recently discovered the largest weird number* in the world. And he has developed a Math 101 class for music majors that explores regression and correlation in Mozart’s sonatas.</p><p>“I have to give credit to my colleagues for so much of this,” he enthused. “Ian Quitadamo [science education professor] encouraged me to involve my students in community-based inquiry. The math and music class was created by Todd Shiver [music chair and professor. I’m especially grateful to my chair, Tim Englund for nominating me for this award.”</p><p>In this collegial atmosphere, Klyve has flourished as a teacher who, according to one undergraduate, instills “a lingering love for mathematics” in his students. He is a regular speaker on mathematics (and a teacher of juggling!) at Wisconsin's Suzuki music festival. In fact, he is so intrigued with juggling that he formulated an equation that mathematically determines how juggling balls fall (“A Zeta Function for Juggling Sequences,” Journal of Combinatorics and Number Theory, 01/2012).</p><p>He has already built a reputation as a popular lecturer. He has been invited to schools throughout the United States to speak about his work.&nbsp; In 2013, the University of Canterbury brought him to New Zealand to teach a five-week course in the History of Mathematics.</p><p>He is currently working on a grant to teach math using original, historical sources and has recruited dozens of mathematicians across the country to develop projects to teach math using the history of mathematics.</p><p>Klyve was also cited for combining teaching with scholarship.</p><p>“Undergraduate research is really important to me,” he said, “and I’m lucky that so many CWU students are interested in pursuing research projects.”</p><p>Since coming to Central four years ago, he has written six papers with students for publication in international research journals. He is a Councilor on the national “Council on Undergraduate Research,” and will serve as the first president of the Math Association of America’s Special Interest Group on Undergraduate Research.</p><p>Klyve<span style="line-height: 1.4;"> also teaches for the William O. Douglas Honors College at </span>CWU<span style="line-height: 1.4;">. He has had multiple courses accepted by the </span>DHC<span style="line-height: 1.4;"> Advisory Committee and he is consistently one of their most beloved and popular professors</span></p><p>In addition to his college coursework, he is active in working with high school students. In addition to bringing the American Mathematics Competition to Ellensburg two years ago, he teaches under-represented and first-generation high school students during the summers as part of the Upward Bound Program.</p><p>“I’ve known for a long time that I love math, and I love explaining things to people,” said Klyve. “I’m grateful to have a supportive department and chair that allow me the freedom to pursue what I love to do.”</p><p><br>*Weird numbers are those in which no combination of its divisors adds up to the original number. For example, the smallest weird number is 70; its divisors are 1, 2, 5, 7, 10, 14, and 35. No combination of any or all of its factors equal 70.</p><p>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,</p><p>&nbsp;</p>CWU math students calculate what no mathematician has before, 05 Dec 2013 07:34:17<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 294px; height: 171px;"></p><p>Math students at Central Washington University say they’ve broken a 37-year-old world record for the largest weird number — a figure that stretches 226 digits long.</p><p>Weird numbers — yes, that’s actually a mathematically accepted term — are numbers that can be divided by smaller numbers that can never add up to the original number.</p><p>Read more of this story in the<a href=""> Yakima Herald Republic.</a></p>CWU Math Students Break World Record for Largest Weird Number, 04 Dec 2013 07:32:00<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 225px; height: 225px;"></p><p>Mathematics students at Central Washington University have broken a world record—they found the largest “weird number” yet discovered: 1,304,478,802,221,037,336,898,806,955,880,590,950,108,213,611,184,211,428,152,436, 309,358,286,058,099,789,749,839,735,498,620,012,494,920,476,023,972,998,095,015,247,872.</p><p>Mathematicians use the term “weird” informally to describe a number that has unusual characteristics. In this case, a weird number is one in which no combination of its divisors add up to the original number. Divisors are numbers that can be divided into a whole number to yield a quotient that is a whole number. For example, in the smallest weird number, 70, its divisors are 1, 2, 5, 7, 10, 14, and 35. No combination of these numbers will add up to 70. Weird!</p><p>According to Dominic Klyve, CWU mathematics professor and advisor, a better understanding of weird numbers leads to a better understanding of factorization, which is the basis of all modern cryptography—the art of writing or solving codes.</p><p>No one knows how common weird numbers are, and looking for big ones is hard. Until last week, the previous record had stood for more than 35 years—the reigning champion was a 53-digit number discovered by Stanley Kravitz in 1976. Then a group of five CWU students—Luke Campbell, Anna Cockrum, Jacob Darst, Jeremy Klarich, and Michael McDonald—together with Klyve, decided to try to find a bigger one.&nbsp;</p><p>Such a search requires both creative thinking and computing power. Bill Glessner of CWU’s Networks and Operations division of the Information Technology office set up several old research computer clusters for students and faculty. By working quickly during seminar, and holding early morning meetings to pursue their mathematics before classes started, the math team found a way to use Kravitz’s ideas from his 1976 paper to look for weird numbers on some of these computer clusters.</p><p>Their method quickly proved successful. They broke Kravitz’s record by finding a 74-digit weird number. Encouraged by their success, they pushed their calculations further—at last count, they had found over a dozen numbers which break the old record—the largest so far is 127 digits. They plan to keep working through Christmas break, and hope for several new world records in the near future.</p><p>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,</p>CWU Actuarial Science Alumni Spotlighted, 19 Aug 2013 10:15:58<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 550px; height: 221px; "></p><p>The profession of actuary has been named the best job for 2013 by CareerCast, one of the Internet's premier career sites. For more than two decades, Central Washington University has been the only institution in Washington--and one of only three in the Pacific Northwes--that offers a bachelor’s of science degree in actuarial science.</p><p>Graham and Vicky Dyer, two recent graduates of CWU's Actuarial Science program were recently interviewed by <a href="">Value Pengui</a>n, a consumer finance website.</p><p>"For the next part in our Future of Actuarials series, we were lucky enough to speak with not one, but two actuarial students from Central Washington University. What's even cooler is that they're married! Graham and Vicky Dyer are both products of CWU's esteemed actuarial program and recently sat down with us to discuss all things actuary. Read more <a href="">here</a>.</p><p>Graham graduated CWU in 2012, and Vicky in 2013.<br>&nbsp;</p>CWU Only University in Washington that Provides Training for America’s Best Job, 12 Aug 2013 09:43:03<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 384px; height: 320px; "></p><p>The profession of actuary has been named the best job for 2013 by CareerCast, one of the Internet's premier career sites. For more than two decades, Central Washington University has been the only institution in Washington—and one of only three in the Pacific Northwest—that offers a bachelor’s of science degree in actuarial science.</p><p>Usually employed by insurance companies and financial institutions, actuaries perform intense statistical analyses of a variety of factors to assess financial risk probabilities. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of actuaries is expected to grow by 27 percent between 2010 and 2020.</p><p>CWU’s bachelor’s degree in actuarial science is ranked as an advanced undergraduate program by the Society of Actuaries, as the program is designed to prepare students for the rigorous actuarial examinations. The program covers the material for the five preliminary examinations, with the typical student finishing the material for four of the five preliminary exams before graduation.</p><p>Advanced actuarial courses are taught by three tenured faculty members with PhDs in the fields of probability, statistics, and actuarial science. Program Director Yvonne Chueh is an associate of the Society of Actuaries with more than a decade of college teaching and industry research experience; Professors Cen-Tsong&nbsp; Lin and Kathryn Temple have experience with the actuarial exam system. Actuarial science alumni comprise an external advisory group who are actively involved with current students and provide competitive internships, networking, support, and mentorship.</p><p>For more information about CWU’s bachelor of science degree in actuarial science, go to</p><p>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,<br>&nbsp;</p>CWU Math Professor Receives Distinguished Teaching Award, 25 Mar 2013 15:01:14<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 213px; height: 320px; "></p><p>Stuart Boersma, Central Washington University professor of mathematics, has been honored with the award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics from the Pacific Northwest section of the Mathematical Association of America (PNW-MAA). Boersma will receive the award at the upcoming regional meeting April 12-13 at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.</p><p>“I’m deeply honored that my colleagues and students took the time to support the original nomination which led to this award,” said Boersma.</p><p>The criteria for the award requires that the candidate:<br>• Be widely recognized as extraordinarily successful in their teaching<br>• Have documented teaching effectiveness<br>• Have influenced others through in their teaching outside their institution<br>• Foster curiosity and generate excitement about mathematics in their students.</p><p>Boersma received his bachelor of science in mathematics degree from the University of Puget Sound in 1988 and his PhD in mathematics from Oregon State University in 1994.&nbsp; He taught at Alfred University in western New York for six years before coming to CWU in 2000. In addition to the MAA teaching award, Boersma received the 2006 MAA Trevor Evans Award for “A Mathematician's Look at Foucault’s Pendulum.” The Trevor Evans Award goes to exceptional articles that are accessible to undergraduates and published in Math Horizons.</p><p>Boersma has led several workshops on "Teaching Quantitative Reasoning with the News" for college instructors as well as middle and secondary school teachers. He has served as chair and past chair of SIGMAA-QL (the Special Interest Group of the Mathematical Association of America on Quantitative Literacy) and is a co-author of "Case Studies for Quantitative Reasoning: A Casebook of Media Articles," with Bernie Madison, Caren Diefenderfer, and Shannon Dingman.</p><p>The PNW-MAA ( is a regional section of the national Mathematical Association of America (, one of the two largest professional organizations of mathematicians. Established in 1915, the MAA currently has 20,000 members. The Pacific Northwest section is the largest geographically as it includes 10 states, provinces, and territories—Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, parts of Idaho, British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut (Canada’s northernmost territory).</p><br><p>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,&nbsp;</p>CWU to Host, Provide Tuition Waivers for US FIRST Robotic Competitions, 20 Nov 2012 09:08:39<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 251px; height: 168px; "></p><p>November 20, 2012</p><p>ELLENSBURG, Wash. — More than 1,000 high school scientists and engineers will descend upon Central Washington University on March 21-23 for one of&nbsp; 57 regional high school robotics tournaments in the U.S.&nbsp; CWU will award tuition waivers to finalists for the "Dean's List," an award for leadership and personal technical expertise and accomplishment.&nbsp; "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology" (FIRST) is the national sponsor of the tournaments.</p><p><br>"I can't think of a more exciting way to encourage students to learn about science and engineering and we're delighted to be partnering with FIRST on this series of events," said CWU President James L. Gaudino, who added that CWU is one of only 25 colleges and universities in North America hosting FIRST Robotics Competitions (FRC) Regionals. "Science and math outreach to middle and high school students is already a strong component of CWU's educational philosophy and FIRST tournaments complement and enrich that mission."</p><p><br>FIRST Robotics Competitions build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills, while motivating young people to pursue educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math. In addition to putting engineering talent to work, students earn awards for community outreach, design, and other real-world accomplishments, according to FIRST Regional Director Michael Campbell.</p><p><br>"FIRST is looking forward to a long-term partnership with CWU to inspire and recognize future inventors and innovators in Washington state," said Campbell.</p><p><br>In October, registration for FRC Regionals at CWU opened and filled within a few hours. More than 50 teams are registered with an average of 20 students, plus teachers and parents.&nbsp; With the event attracting more than 1,000 students and supporters, Arthur Morken, CWU graduate student and the chair of the Regional Advisory Committee, said that the greater Ellensburg community would play an important part in hosting the conference for everything from event judging to conference registration.</p><p><br>"You don't have to be an engineer to be involved in the fun and excitement," said Morken, adding that the tournament has the excitement of a sports championship. "If you like competition, if you love to see high school students learning and having fun—then you're the perfect volunteer!"</p><p><br>FIRST also is partnering with CWU to host robotics challenges for students in elementary and middle schools: the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) for 9 to 14-year-olds and Junior FIRST LEGO League for 6 to 9-year-olds.&nbsp; High school students will come to CWU to participate in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) on December 1 in CWU's Hogue Technology Building. Events scheduled at CWU in Ellensburg, include the following:<br>--December 8: Vex Robotics Competition, Grades 6-12, Hogue Technology Building<br>--January 26: FIRST LEGO League, grades 4-8; grades K-4, SURC<br>--February 23: FIRST LEGO League, grades 4-8; grades K-4, Student Union &amp; Recreation Center, Eastern Washington State FLL Championship<br>--March 20-23: FIRST Robotics Challenge, grades 9-12, Field House, 2013 Central Washington Regional FIRST Robotics Competition</p><p>Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. To recognize the leadership and dedication of FIRST’s most outstanding FRC students, the Kamen family sponsors an award for selected top students, known as the FIRST Dean’s List, including Semi-Finalists, Finalists, and Winners. The award recognizes the character and knowledge of individuals, including contributions to their teams; technical expertise and passion; entrepreneurship and creativity; and ability to motivate and lead fellow team members.<br>FIRST enjoys the support of three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and provides more than $14 million in college scholarships annually.&nbsp; To learn more about FIRST, go to, as well as</p><p><br>Media Contact: Linda Schactler,, 509-963-1384<br>&nbsp; Michael Campbell,, 206-390-3040<br>&nbsp;</p>CWU students identify role of freezers in fighting hunger, 30 Oct 2012 14:44:05<p><strong><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 220px; height: 229px; "></strong></p><p><strong>ELLENSBURG, Wash.</strong> (June 20, 2012) -- Access to a freezer could be an important factor in the fight against hunger, according to a Kittitas County survey of what and how often people eat. Central Washington University statistics students found that 12 percent of people who missed one or more meals per week lacked access to a freezer.<br>"Statistically, that's highly significant," said CWU math professor Dominic Klyve, who took on the project to give his beginning statistics students real experience analyzing a community issue.</p><p>When the Kittitas County Food Access Coalition needed help interpreting results of a survey, Klyve and his students stepped in to help. The survey asked people about all home appliances used for food preparation or storage, such as refrigerators, freezers, stoves, and microwaves. A freezer was missing from the homes of 12 percent of people who missed one or more meals per week. No other home appliance correlated so strongly to hunger. Ninety-eight percent of people who never missed a meal had a freezer.</p><p>"The lack of a freezer could mean limited access to food storage or it could relate to income," said Robin Read, health promotion supervisor for the Kittitas County Department of Public Health. "A family who can't afford a freezer also may have problems buying food."</p><p>The coalition collected 858 surveys during 2010 to inform the group's understanding of the level of "access to healthy food and understanding of nutrition" for citizens in Kittitas County.</p><p>The coalition provided Klyve the raw data and, as part of a class project in critical thinking, students crunched the numbers, selecting certain data points to explore for correlations. Using the coalition's survey, Klyve's class established a "hunger index," which related to how many meals subjects missed in a week due to lack of food.</p><p>"Certain common variables correlated pretty much the way you'd expect," said Klyve, noting that income level was a good predictor of how often meals were missed.</p><p>In addition, data indicated that:</p><p>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;* About 4 percent of Kittitas County adults ate less than they wanted to because they didn't have enough money to buy food.</p><p>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;* About 20 percent of Kittitas County 10th-grade students said their family had to cut meal sizes or skip meals because there wasn't enough money to buy food (from the Washington State Healthy Youth Survey).</p><p>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;* About 10 percent of respondents said they get some or most of their food from local food banks.</p><p>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;* More than 80 percent said they prepare dinner at home at least five days per week.</p><p>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;*About 24 percent said they or someone in their household had skipped a meal sometime in the past year because they didn't have enough food.</p><p>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;*More than 60 percent said sometimes, often, or all the time they eat less healthful foods because they are cheaper.</p><p>According to Read, there were other interesting correlations Klyve's students found that would have to be analyzed further.</p><p>"The community food assessment was a large project, with many people involved," said Read. "So it will be a while before all the information can be put together and published."</p><p>For more information about the food access coalition, go <a href="">here</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Media Contact:</strong> Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,</p>