Saturday, March 13, 2010

Updated Announcements on Upcoming Classes

Upcoming summer courses offering by the math department for the M.A. in Mathematics for Teachers program:

May 10-June 16 (Monday and Wednesday) 6-9pm
MATH 5210 3.0 credits: Problem Solving I
by Yun Gao.

June 21-July 28 (Monday and Wednesday) 6-9pm
MATH 5500 3.0 credits: Topics in Mathematics for Teachers
on the topic of Naive Set Theory by Bob Burns.

For the Fall-Winter 2010-2011 terms the Mathematics department will be offering:
MATH 5450 6.0: Geometry for Teachers with Walter Whiteley, Thursdays 6-9pm
MATH 5400 6.0 History of Mathematics with Stan Kochman, Mondays 6-9pm

2010-2011 Important Dates for Graduate Students have now been published on FGS website,

The following announcement was sent towards the end of February and I am re-posting it here. If you did not receive this message, write me with an updated email and I will get you on any missing mailing lists I can.

February 22, 2010

Dear Graduate Students,

Summer Term 2010 registration begins Monday, March 1st, 2010! Be sure to register and enroll in courses early!

As a graduate student, you are required to maintain continuous registration in your program of study; this means you must register in each term (Summer, Fall and Winter) until you complete all the requirements of the degree as either full-time or part-time.

To register, enroll in courses and view the York course website, please go to: The registration deadline for Summer Term 2010 is May 3, 2010, if you register beyond this date, a late fee of $200 will be applied to your student account. Therefore it is important that you register for the term early and enroll in courses early (if applicable).

Please note that unless your Graduate Program Director and the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies have approved a change of status, you must remain in the category of registration to which you were admitted. To request a change of status (i.e. leave of absence, change to part-time, extension of time) for the Summer 2010 term, students must make their request through their Graduate Program and complete an Academic Petition Form or a Program Approval Form at least six weeks in advance of the start of the term.

For more information on; Registration; Important Deadlines and Dates; Faculty Regulations; Forms and the FGS directory, please visit the Faculty of Graduate Studies website at:

The Faculty of Graduate Studies wishes you all the best in your academic progress and success in your current program of study, if you have questions, please contact your Graduate Program or the Faculty of Graduate Studies.


Sharon Pereira

Friday, March 12, 2010

Someone else's presentation on the Multiplication Principle

There is a blog Math Notations that covers various topics about math. This weeks topic is titled "Counting, Multiplication Principle, Pigeonhole Principle and Reasoning for Middle Schoolers and Beyond."

I know I have a different perspective on this subject that many of you have been forced to see in Fundamentals, but one of the reasons I like it is that this idea comes up in almost every one of my classes at some point.

No matter what I teach, at some point I find myself arguing that the number of something is the product of two values and the reason is the multiplication principle. In number theory, this simple idea allows us to derive very deep results from drawing a few pictures.

Women over 40 good at math

An article in the Toronto Star from March 10 sites research from Graham Orpwood, a York University emeritus professor, that women over 40 do significantly better than men in college math courses. The article suggests that the difference might be due to better time management skills but it seems that that particular conclusion is more of a guess.

Toronto Star article

The study also says that half as many women study math as men. There was little attempt in the article to explain why this might be the case.

What I don't like about the Toronto Star article is that they then get a bunch of (apparently random) people to comment on the results apparently picking the narrative that the reader might take away from this study.

What is important are the three summary points of the conclusion of the study:

  • Many students identified as being at risk of failing math have a poor grasp of basic functions taught in elementary school, such as fractions, ratios, proportions and percentages, so students should be provided more practice in these.

  • College and school staff should hold a round-table discussion on how to streamline which high school math courses are required for admission to college courses and not have such a disconnect from school to school.

  • Schools should convince parents and students to focus on time management and self-discipline.

It is hard to make such sweeping statements about gender differences over time, but data should be collected to see what the possible causes of large scale failings and shifts of attitudes towards math. I can say that when I was going through high school the number of girls in the advanced math courses were cut in half each year from years 9-12 until there were almost none in the calculus course in my high school. However, in the years after I was in school this changed dramatically. What this could mean is that in the next few years more women over 40 will start studying math. In my first year courses I see a roughly 50-50 split between the sexes.