March 18, 2013, 8:00 am

By Robert Talbert

March 7, 2012, 9:30 am

By Robert Talbert

This week is Spring Break, which means students get to go on vacations while faculty get caught up on work. And get caught up I did. Yesterday I set aside the entire day to focus on a single project: the completion of a draft of an article that I started in May 2011 (!), which got back-burnered last summer during our move to Michigan, and never quite made it out of neutral. The unfinished nature of that paper has been weighing on me for almost a year, so I wanted the thing done.

Rather than try to tweak and edit the existing manuscript, I just threw the whole thing out and started over again with a clearer concept, a clearer argument, and a clearer mind. Four hours later, I had completely rebuilt a 15-page article from the ground up, and I should be able to send it off to the journal by the end of the week. I’m a little shocked by this. It brought to mind three points about writing an…

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January 5, 2012, 8:00 am

By Robert Talbert

By the time you read this, I’ll be heading back home to Michigan from the AMS/MAA Joint Meetings. Yesterday was the first day of the actual conference, and since it was the only day of the conference I was in attendance, I tried to pack in as much as I could. Here’s a rundown of what I saw.

I attended a talk on “The Separability Problem in Referendum Elections” by my GVSU colleague Jonathan Hodge in the AMS Special Session on the Mathematics of Decisions, Elections, and Games. I knew Jon worked in game theory but I had never seen a sustained scholarly presentation of his work before. It was impressive. What I appreciate the most about Jon’s research is its blend of real-world accessibility with mathematical depth. Also impressive was the amount of collaboration with undergraduates Jon did as a part of the research; three of those undergrads were in the audience.

Next was a talk on…

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September 15, 2011, 8:52 pm

By Robert Talbert

http://www.flickr.com/photos/unav/

Right now I’m teaching a course called Communicating in Mathematics, which serves two purposes. First, it’s a transitional course for students heading from the freshman calculus sequence into more theoretical upper-level math courses. We learn about logic, how to formulate and test mathematical conjectures, and we spend a lot of time learning how to write correct mathematical proofs. And therein is the second purpose: The course is also labelled as a “Supplemental Writing Skills” course at Grand Valley, which means that a large portion of the class, and of the course grade, is based on writing. (

Here are the specifics.) It’s a sort of second-semester, discipline-specific composition class. (Students at GVSU have to have two of these SWS courses, each in different…

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June 19, 2008, 2:34 pm

By Robert Talbert

Good article here at The Productive Student giving five reasons why students should use \(\LaTeX\) as their word processor and not Microsoft Word:

1. Never worry about formatting again.

2. It looks way better. *[By the way: Very nice article on LaTeX's** typesetting at that link.]*

3. It won’t crash: LaTeX is basically a plain text file. You can edit it anywhere, in any text editor, and it basically can’t crash on you. File size is very small which makes it very portable.

4. It’s great for displaying equations, which is why it’s the leading standard among sciencitifc scholars.

5. It fits in with the workflow of a student and allows you to do one thing well: Write.

The writer also shares some of his practices for writing papers (not necessarily math or science papers) with \(\LaTeX\), stressing \(\LaTeX\)’s ability to handle bibliographic data as the “killer feature”….

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