Scheinerman Remodeled Math Course, Then Wrote Book For It Ken Keatley --------------------------------- Homewood News and Information Ed Scheinerman says the tasks of writing a textbook and remodeling a basement have a lot in common. He should know--he's doing both. "There's always something to do, even now when it's virtually finished," said Scheinerman, professor in the De- partment of Mathematical Sciences. "There are still some more little details and things to take care of." Now that the carpeting's in, Scheinerman's basement in Columbia is just about ready for use. The same can be said for his first book, "Invitation to Dynamical Systems," now that he and publisher Prentice-Hall have finalized drawings and the cover image. The book, intended for sophomore-junior level college students who are beyond linear algebra but not quite ready for such highly abstract mathematical material as topology, grew out of department chair John Wierman's "invitation" to Scheinerman that he teach a course in dynamical systems. "I protested. It's outside my area of interest [discrete mathematics], and besides I'd taught it once before and found it to be very dull," said Scheinerman. "But [Wierman] said I could completely redesign the course the way I think it should be done. And that sounded interesting." Scheinerman felt that the course he had originally taught had failed to include some of the more interesting concepts and methods for describing and analyzing systems that evolve over time, such as fractals and chaos theory. But, when he searched for an intermediate text that would include those topics, none was to be found. "Graduate level textbooks were incredibly difficult, and introductory texts were too elementary," Scheinerman explained. "Since I couldn't find appropriate material, I decided to write one." The resultant text, gleaned primarily from his lecture notes, has been completed--much as his basement work--over the last 18 months in between Scheinerman's regular teaching and research projects. In it, he aims to present the underlying mathematical concepts on a pictorial and intuitive level, since many of its readers will be non-mathematicians (i.e., computer scientists, engineers and economists). "It's a serious mathematical book, but one which doesn't emphasize theorem proving," he said, adding that the book is richly illustrated with over 200 figures. "The underlying concepts are very hard, and I believe you must see the examples before you see the theory." Scheinerman used the term invitation, rather than introduction, in order to emphasize the multidisciplinary nature of the material, which can be applied to fields outside mathematics. "A lot of people who are not mathematicians would profit from learning this material. But if you write it purely from a mathematical point of view, you cut out a large segment of the population. A lot of people can enjoy this beyond the arcane folks like me."
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