New course explores how our gadgets work
A new, multidisciplinary course delving into the mathematics behind the gadgets and online tools we use every day launches this winter, and will be open to the wider community. The course marries theoretical and practical knowledge, and shows how grasping both can lead to ideas with the potential to transform society.
Selim Akl, Director, School of Computing, and Ram Murty, Head, Department of Mathematics and Statistics , will teach the course jointly, exploring theories that feed online programs such as Google, and practical devices such as digital cameras, mobile phones and GPS units.
“Everyone snaps pictures, everyone knows GPS, but how many people know how these devices work?” says Dr. Akl. “We want to show how things we do every day, how devices we use every day, are driven by simple mathematics.”
Dr. Akl and Dr. Murty wanted to blend their respective disciplines to give students a broader perspective. They hope students come away with a better appreciation of the beauty behind technology, its transformative effects, and how their ideas and research can have substantial impacts both in the long and short term.
“We want to foster the idea of using technology for the betterment of the human race,” says Dr. Murty. “This type of interdisciplinary course energizes students to think along these lines.”
The course, called Looking Behind the Screen: The Mathematics of Information Technology, will be offered in the evening, at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Its prerequisites are minimal, equivalent to first-year courses in mathematics and computing.