Discrete math demonstration ideas...

David Gries dgries at twcny.rr.com
Mon Jan 30 20:05:03 EST 2006

Bring a beehive to class. The numbers of male and female ancestors of  
a bee at each level forms a fibonacci sequence.
See page 224 of Gries/Schneider "A Logical Approach to Discrete  
Math". Also bear that, learn how the golden
ratio is used in architecture and how it arises in the human body.

David Gries

On 30 Jan 2006, at 19:46, Aaron Bloomfield wrote:

Hi, all,

    I'm trying to form a collection of demonstrations for discrete  
math topics, and thought I'd solicit suggestions from this list.

    I'm looking for ways to demonstrate concepts to students in a  
discrete math course (and CS1 / CS2 courses as well) using physical  
objects.  For example, using a phone book to illustrate a binary  
search (I rip it up in the process), or using a conch shell for  
illustrating the growth of the Fibonacci sequence.  I envision these  
as different from KLAs (http://sequoia.cs.berkeley.edu/kla/ 
index.php), which generally require class participation.  And I see  
them as different than the nifty examples as well (as those tend to  
be interesting problems that require solving).  My thought is to use  
all three of these (nifty examples, KLAs, and the demonstrations)  
together to help form a more compelling lecture.  Essentially, I'm  
looking for ways to demonstrate a concept to a class using physical,  
real-world objects, but without having to directly involve them in  
the demo.  And something that, with a bit of showmanship, can really  
"wake up" the class -- such as blowing a conch shell or dramatically  
tearing a phone book to shreds.

    Any thoughts or suggestions?  Do such lists exist anywhere?  I  
couldn't seem to find any.  Of course, I'll make the ensuing list  
publicly available.



Aaron Bloomfield, Assistant Professor
Department of Computer Science, University of Virginia
asb (at) cs (dot) virginia (dot) edu

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