SIMIODE EXPO is a multi-day international online conference for faculty, students, and other parties interested in using modeling to motivate, teach, and learn differential equations. This conference is part of a Community of Practice in SIMIODE — Systemic Initiative for Modeling Investigations and Opportunities in Differential Equations. SIMIODE EXPO belongs to participants, and the schedule will be filled in as we receive appropriate proposals for sessions and talks. The conference offers presentations and discussions on a tapestry of issues for teaching differential equations using modeling and some broader mathematical topics. There are planned talks of interest to students in the areas of student learning and research using differential equations and the student challenge, SCUDEM, and other competitions.
As in the past, most presentations will be recorded and posted on the SIMIODE YouTube channel for viewing after the conference.
Dedication to Dr. James D. Spain
We dedicate this conference to Dr. James D. Spain, Professor Emeritus, Biological Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton MI USA.
Jim Spain has taught, inspired, and mentored many, in particular Brian Winkel, Director SIMIODE, in mathematical modeling in the life sciences and chemistry using technology. He is the author of many papers, grants, and books concerning using technology in support of teaching modeling. His vision early on in the 1970's spurred interest in many to pursue modeling as a teaching approach and its great adventure. We all owe Jim a great deal of gratitude for his ground working efforts in teaching modeling. In addition, Jim pursued good old country music as a singer/guitarist and we share one of his personal recordings of A Loverly Bunch of Coconuts. The title is not a commentary on our assemblage!
Special Features: Keynote Speakers, Technology Features, and Prison Mathematics Project
We have two keynote speakers: Frank Wattenberg who will share constructive uses of AI in teaching mathematics, and Doan Winkel who will share general approaches for positive faculty uses of AI in teaching. Please see Toolkit: Enhancing learning through AI in the August/September 2023 MAA FOCUS.
Mathematical Modelers Understanding and Using Artificial Intelligence
Abstract: ChatGPT is the most recent and currently most in the news flavor of artificial intelligence. In this talk we will distinguish GPT (generative pre-trained transformer) and LLM (large language models) AI from algorithmic AI and from other forms of AI based on extremely large data sets. This talk focuses equally on two things: How we as modelers, mathematicians and mathematics educators at the ODE level can understand how GPT works and how we can use GPT to do and to teach mathematics and modeling.
The most visible aspect of ChatGPT is an illusion — talking with ChatCPT feels like talking with a flesh-and-blood human being. The extent to which this is an illusion depends as much on the nature of flesh-and-blood intelligence as on the nature of GPT intelligence. We are learning more about both. The work of Daniel Kahneman and his book Thinking, Fast and Slow is particularly helpful.
Like all scientific advances, GPT builds on other work. One important example is word vectors. The Ars Technica article A jargon-free explanation of how AI large language models work is particularly helpful. The recent Forbes article What is the best way to control today’s AI? is a wonderful article. As modelers, we know that how we represent the features of the real world in our models is crucial and representing words as vectors is particularly brilliant. We are all here today because of our passion for modeling and as educators at the ODE level. But, ODEs are only one modeling paradigm and this talk will argue that for most students the traditional ODE class should be replaced by linear algebra and more broadly inclusive modeling.
The purpose of modeling is building understanding of the world in which we live and how we can change our world for the better. GPT builds in part on extremely large scale data analysis and like its predecessors and in stark contrast to algorithmic AI provides little or no understanding. Cathy O'Neil's popular book Weapons of Math Destruction is particularly helpful.
In short, this talk has three goals: Increasing our understanding of GPT, helping us use GPT effectively, and changing our mathematics courses at the undergraduate ODE level — both for math majors and for other majors. Words are just one form of modeling and writing-across-the-curriculum needs a new partner modeling-across-the-curriculum.
The real power of AI including GPT, LLM, algorithmic, large scale data analysis and other forms of AI requires human intelligence as a full partner and especially to provide purpose and values. Using AI to better our world requires inspired and purposeful, intelligent humans of character. This keynote will build on examples of dialog between AI and humans.
This is entirely optional but if you happen to have a pair of red-cyan 3D glasses please have them handy. These glasses are often packaged with 3D books.
The AI Differential: Unraveling Mathematics with ChatGPT
Abstract: This talk is not just about introducing ChatGPT as a new tool, but about inspiring a shift in perspective — from viewing AI as a complex, distant technology to seeing it as a friendly assistant that's ready to help us make differential equations and broader coursework more accessible and exciting for our students. ChatGPT is revolutionizing the way we approach teaching so fast that it's hard to keep pace. You'll leave questioning whether it's the students learning from ChatGPT, or ChatGPT learning from the students. Either way, the future of education will never be the same again. See Doan's recent article, From Chalkboards to Chatbots. Check out HeyGen for generating videos from your avatar and Doan's results, and see his AI generated images.
We have two invited technology talks, the first is about WikiModel software, a web-based application.
A Web-based Software Application that Enables Teachers, Students, Scientists and Engineers to Simulate, Fit and Share Mathematical Models
Abstract: Today, the creation, simulation, and fitting of mathematical model equations, particularly those with Ordinary Differential Equations are done with different programming languages, each with their own syntax. This can be a stumbling block to young students who are just trying to learn mathematical modeling concepts but lack the programming knowledge, or have bugs in the code that prevent them from generating the correct simulated output. Furthermore, models that have discrete inputs at specific times must be explicitly programmed to start and stop at each of these time steps as ODE integration routines such as Runge-Kutta have an adaptive time step. Fitting the model parameters to experimental data adds an additional level of complexity with an iterative, non-linear least squares fitting routine programmed in a separate script outside the model definition.
The second invited technology talk is about SLOPES, a rich App for studying differential equations.
SLOPES: A Free, Intuitive Mobile App to Enhance Learning in Differential Equations
Abstract: Slopes is a mobile application with an intuitive interface that is designed to visualize solutions to differential equations and support active learning in the classroom. By making slopefields, phase planes and numerical solutions more accessible, students are able to engage in higher level discussions of mathematical models that incorporate differential equations. Slopes is currently available for iPads, iPhones, and Android phones, which are highly portable and feature larger touch screens that allow students to view and manipulate content easily. I will discuss in-class activities that emphasize a visual understanding of mathematical models in order to introduce and reinforce key concepts in differential equations. I will also discuss how students used Slopes as a primary tool for semester-long modeling projects. In a recent study, we found that students used Slopes to visualize solutions, aid in discussion and cooperation, build prototype models, and demonstrate understanding of differential equations concepts.
Overall Purposes and Structure of Prison Mathematics Project
Abstract:Ben Jeffers, Executive Director of PMP, and Stephanie Atherton, MathPaks Team Lead, PMP, and Rory Andes, Reentry Specialist, PMP, discuss the meaningfulness to individuals in prison to support mathematics inquiry and the offerings and opportunities in PMP for audience members to engage in mentoring and sharing mathematics with those imprisoned.
Personal Engagement in Prison Mathematics Project
Abstract: Tim Pennings, mathematics professor and PMP mentor, and Jesse Waite, who was released last summer, discuss their personal involvement in PMP. Jesse is resuming and building his life now, both mathematically and for real, has published a wonderful article on teaching in prison in MAA FOCUS, and is working with Tim Pennings who mentored him in PMP.
The three day conference starts 1:00 PM (Eastern US Time) Friday, 9 February 2024, and ends 6:00 PM (Eastern US Time) on Sunday, 11 February 2024, going until 9:00 PM (EST Time) on Friday and Saturday. Talks are generally 25 minutes, including question time, followed by a 5 minute break and transition to next session. Talks include keynote speakers on AI, talks on technology, personal accounts of modeling activities, sessions on modeling in differential equations and calculus, SCUDEM sharing, pedagogical and mathematical talks, and time set aside for friendly individual or small group conversations and meetups.