Modelling with data in an introductory numerical methods course

12 Jul 2018, 15:00
New Law School/--106 (University of Sydney)

New Law School/--106

University of Sydney

Oral Presentation Minisymposium: Interdisciplinary curriculum development at the interface of mathematics, life science and computing Interdisciplinary curriculum development at the interface of mathematics, life science, and computing: challenges and progress


Celestine Woodruff (James Madison University)


Modelling with real data in the classroom not only gives students a sense of why the mathematics matters, but it also gives them perspective on how messy the real world is and how we adapt our models to suit non-perfect data. We present a class activity and project for an introductory numerical methods course in which Calculus 1 and 2 are prerequisites. In the classroom we introduce curvature and a method for calculating curvature using discrete points. We then explore how we could use curvature to identify sinkholes given data from high resolution digital elevation models (DEMs). Outside of class, groups of students create codes in Matlab to calculate the curvature at each boundary point of some given depression. Each group then decides how to use these individual curvatures to determine whether a depression is a sinkhole. Once all projects are complete the students present their methods in class and test their codes on actual geological data. Although this project is geological in nature, it could be used with any application in which identification is based on roundness.

Primary author

Celestine Woodruff (James Madison University)

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