2020 Brackenridge Fellowship

Saturday, June 6, 2020

The Pitt Honors College has selected students for the 2020 Brackenridge Fellowship. One of those students that we would like to highlight is Luke Profy (Mentor: Dr. George Sparling). Luke's research was on "The Historical and Social Implicatoins of the Mathematical Findings of the Ancient Mathematicians." Below is the abstract:

Why do we have to learn math? Why are we studying this? These questions often asked by uninterested and unengaged math students to their teachers spark a useful conversation: where did the math we study come from and why do we study it? The goal of this project is to provide the historical and social context of the mathematics taught today as a resource for teachers and educators in the field struggling to provide students with the real life applications and background that mathematics often lacks. This is especially relevant in high school when students are getting their first real taste for more applicable mathematics. Specifically, the project examines the societal impact of the development of mathematics in the ancient Mediterrean focusing on ancient Egypt, Greece, and the Roman Empire. This is done by exploring the lives of ancient mathematicians in the context of their times, as well as the timeline of overarching themes of the development of topics from a theoretical perspective and evidence of their practical applications. Examples of such evidence include the building of Egyptian pyramids and irrigation canals, advancements in Roman Warfare maniacs, and the development of administrations that distribute its resources to citizens. By looking not solely on the history of theoretical and abstract aspects of math, we see that the development of math is an underlining, driving force for the advancement in civilizations and society. Overall, this project explores the stories and real life problems behind the motivations for the development of the mathematical content we learn today giving it the context needed to show the comparisons and similarities of purposeful math from many millennia ago until our present day.

Congratulations Luke and Dr. Sparling.


Other students in mathematics who were awarded this fellowship that we would also like to congratulate:

Mark Farino, Ian Pamerleau, Emmaline Rial, Kieth Robben