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Friday, July 29, 2016

For the Love of Gifs

How many times have you been sitting in a classroom, trying to wrap your head around some unbelievably abstract concept, and no matter what the professor says or how many times the professor explains herself, you just know that you’re missing some essential piece of the puzzle. Then your professor sketches a basic picture on the blackboard and suddenly it clicks and there is a collective sigh of relief among you and your classmates.

There have been countless studies which show that multimedia enhances learning and can enrich a student’s understanding of a concept. For the most part, when talking about educational multimedia, only pictures, slideshows, and videos come to mind; but lets take a look at what gifs bring to the table.

Gifs, or the Graphics Interchange Format, are small animations or a quick, couple-second video that constantly repeat. They are commonly found cluttering up a article on Buzzfeed, or being shared on Facebook or Twitter, but there are some great math gifs roaming around on the internet.

Take this one for example: 

A lot of people in high school learn how to use the trigonometric functions, but never fully understand where they come from. Seeing this gif becomes an “Aha!” moment for some people and they finally see why the unit circle is important and why trigonometric functions are periodic.
Circle cos sin 
Gram-Schmidt orthonormalization process

Or how about this one:

We’ve all sat in a linear algebra class, been given this behemoth algorithm of calculations to perform for the Gram-Schmidt process and tried our best to memorize it. Doesn’t seeing it in action clear things up a little bit?

Remember line integrals?

Line integral of scalar field.gif

Line integral of vector field.gif

Or how about Fourier Series?

Continuous Fourier transform of rect and sinc functions
Fourier transform time and frequency domains (small)
(Speaking from experience, I took a whole class on Fourier Analysis, and it only ‘clicked’ after seeing these)

The great thing about gifs, is that they are short enough that they do not become boring, they will endlessly repeat until you understand, and are aesthetically pleasing. So, do yourself a favor and check out some math gifs. They don’t even have to be serious. Here are some of our favorites that are just fun to watch:

Rolling Hypocycloids Nested Rotating Hypocycloids

by Dan Craig via Wikimedia Commons
                Inside-Out Torus                                          

                       by Surot via Wikimedia Commons
Inside-out torus (animated, small).gif
Circle radians Relationship between Radius and Radians

by Lucas V. Barbosa via Wikimedia Commons  
          Construction of Hypotrochoid              

             by Sam Derbyshire via Wikimedia Commons
Cylinder - hyperboloid - cone Hyperboloid Constructed of Straight Lines

by Cmapm via Wikimedia Commons
  Homotopy between a Torus and a Mug
   by Lucas V. Barbosa via Wikimedia Commons
Mug and Torus morph.gif

Special thanks to Lucas V. Barbosa for creating all the public domain gifs in the main post. See more of his work here.

Do you have any good gifs of your own? Post them in the comments and we might add them to our list of favorites!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Advanced Knowledge Problem of the Week

Check out this week's Advanced Knowledge Problem of the Week. Let us know how you did in the comments!

Solution and additional problems below the break.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Problem of the Week

We urge you not "two four-get" this week's problem of the week! Let us know your solve time in the comments!

Solution below the break.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Advanced Knowledge Problem of the Week

Check out this week's Advanced Knowledge Problem of the Week. Pi hope you can solve it! Let us know how you did in the comments!

Solution below the break.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Thursday, July 14, 2016

#centerofmath Events - Reimagining Calculus Education


The First Annual Conference: Reimagining Calculus Education 


Friday, October 28, 2016
Stevens Institute of Technology
Hoboken, New Jersey


Stevens Institute of Technology will host the First Annual Conference on Reimagining Calculus Education. The objective of this conference is to improve the success rate of calculus students through innovative teaching and learning strategies.


Attending this conference, you will learn to:

    Teach using math educational technology
    Deliver personalized education
    Keep students engaged
    Leverage student online literacies
    Create new options for delivering quality math content
    Pinpoint specific areas of mastery, strength and weakness for each student
    Provide data-grounded evidence of academic growth for each student

Registration information will be available in the coming months. Any questions can be e-mailed to