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College of Arts and Sciences Mathematics and Statistics

Researcher encounters rare, elusive beaked whales off coast of Ireland

Rare sighting off the coast of Ireland of elusive beaked whale. (photo by Ashley Bennison)A researcher at WSU Vancouver encountered rare and elusive beaked whales while on a research vessel west of Ireland last month.

Enrico Pirotta, a post doc in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, was on the last days of a six-day cruise when the crew had several sightings. The first sightings were too far away for positive identifications, but on the final day the crew saw four separate groups of breaching whales, according to an online log of the Ireland-based Marine Institute in Galway. » More …

Making sense of big data

colorful icons connected with dots and linesPeople, businesses and institutions are collecting more and more data, but often don’t know what to do with it. That’s where mathematics comes in. Bala Krishnamoorthy, associate professor and program leader of mathematics and statistics at WSU Vancouver, is participating in a project funded by the National Science Foundation that he describes as follows: “The grant is about applying mathematical techniques to make sense of the loads and loads of data that people are collecting.” » More …

The Calculus of Grace

Valerie CheathonFor Valerie Cheathon, it all adds up. She plans to earn a master’s degree in applied math so she can make movies. Sitting in the Compton Union Building on the Pullman campus of Washington State University one morning, she clearly sees the world as a weave of numbers—and stories.

“I like applied math. You can help people with math. You can solve problems. Like, how much air conditioning is needed,” gesturing at the expanse of the CUB, “that’s a math problem. The doors are nodes and the connecting hallways get different values depending on width, length, and so forth.” » More …

Tree growth model assists breeding for more wood

Trees at edge of a lakeA meeting in a forest between a biologist and a mathematician could lead to thicker, faster growing trees.

“Mathematicians like translating biological processes into numbers,” said Andrei Smertenko, assistant professor in Washington State University’s Institute of Biological Chemistry. “I’m a biologist, and I want to help grow stronger, better trees.”

Breeding trees is a time-consuming and imprecise field, with breeders relying on a few genetic markers and what they can see. It takes years before they see the traits they’re looking for in a young tree. To help speed things up, Smertenko and his WSU Department of Mathematics colleagues Vladyslav Oles and Alexander Panchenko have developed a new model that could help make tree breeding much easier.

Read the full story at WSU News >>