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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU mathematical sciences and computer science program receives funding

Faculty in the departments of mathematical sciences and computer science at New Mexico State University have received funding to continue an innovative new program utilizing fundamental scientific writings.

The "Learning Discrete Mathematics and Computer Science Via Primary Historical Sources" project is a collaborative effort between professors at NMSU and Colorado State University, Pueblo.

The program uses historical sources, such as works by Alan Turing, Gottfried Leibniz, George Boole and Blaise Pascal, to provide motivation, context and direction to courses in finite mathematics, combinatorics, algorithm design, data structures, logic, abstract algebra and automata theory. These areas are sub-disciplines that drive research in discrete structures in mathematics and the foundation of computer science.

"Examination of original historical sources that compelled the development of these subjects enriches student understanding and perspective and provides better preparation for subsequent courses," said David Pengelley, professor in the department of mathematical sciences. "Through the project NMSU learners can study and gain inspiration directly from seminal ideas as expressed in the words of some of the world's greatest thinkers."

The National Science Foundation awarded $434,000 to NMSU and $41,000 to Colorado State University, Pueblo. The vice president for research at NMSU contributed an additional $29,000.

The four-year grant will allow for expansion of the program to 20 other colleges and universities. The funding will be used to finance the design of course materials and a team teaching initiative that would feature professors from both departments teaching one class, as well as a graduate assistant pilot teaching program. The funding also will be used to disseminate research generated by the project at conferences and workshops.