Student-Faculty Research: Mathematics

Love math? In the above video, Mandy Bright, ’14, and Dr. Erin Martin demonstrate graph theory at Westminster College. Graph theory is one of the fastest growing areas in mathematics. (For the math faint of heart, click here to find out how Dr. Martin helps students overcome their fears.)

During her time at Westminster, Bright worked with Martin on graph theory, specifically finding minimum exponential dominating sets of graphs. Through her research in exponential domination, she found and proved a modular relationship in a family of connected cycle graphs that relates to the size of the individual cycles and the distances between the overlapping vertices that allows for a generalization of minimum exponential dominating sets of intricate graphs.

According to Martin, domination has implications for computer science, molecular biology, military science, marketing, and social networking. “In an age where information travels with increasing speeds, domination is one way of quantifying the distance such information travels,” she says.

Bright calls this learning experience “the best of my undergraduate career” because of the accessibility of Dr. Martin and the ability to work on a branch of graph theory not traditionally taught at the undergraduate level.

“I have learned the process of researching math,” Bright says. “It takes a lot of time and creativity to be able to find and prove the answer to a sophisticated problem. This experience is vital to my career plans. I want to spend my career solving mathematical problems.”

“By working on this project, Mandy has given herself and edge over the competition by experiencing for the first time as an undergraduate, rather than a graduate student, the process through which new mathematics is created,” says Martin.

Bright has had the opportunity to present her research at four conferences, and she intends to pursue a PhD in mathematics.

This information originally appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Leadership Magazine. Check out the issue, starting on Page 24, for more examples of student-faculty research at Westminster.

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