Dr. Erica Oldaker Joins Gordon Faculty
We are very excited to welcome Dr. Erica Oldaker to the Gordon community this Fall 2021! Dr. Oldaker joins us as a full-time, tenure-track mathematics faculty member, teaching a variety of courses from Concepts of Math to Real Analysis. She joins us most recently from Washington and Lee in Virginia.
Dr. Oldaker's PhD is from Baylor University, but her undergrad is from Lee, another CCCU institution. Her research is in applied graph theory, but is just as interested in mentoring young Christian mathematics students. You can ask her about her love for Baylor athletics as well as how beautiful vector calculus is - please join us in welcoming her!
On May 18, twelve Gordon mathematics majors walked across the stage on a beautiful day to be honored for their accomplishments. Here are some tidbits about them!
Let's celebrate these newest Gordon mathematics alumni!
Podcast on Work interviews Math Alumna
Gordon's new Career and Connection Institute is guided by the Hebrew word avodah, which means so much more than work. It's no surprise, then, that when math alumna Jane Eisenhauer '09 showed up on their new podcast, she was interviewed on topics ranging from pursuing a graduate degree, work-life balance, and working in the missile-defense industry.
Interested in one slice of what life is like after graduation with the skills you can get as a math major? Listen to the podcast! Interested in seeing what other Gordon alumni have done? See our outcomes page, or contact any of the mathematics faculty.
Tooting our Horn
The mathematics students and faculty at Gordon know that our alumni are exceptional, but every once in a while it's worth tooting our own horn. Here are two updates worth sharing from this academic year.
Are you a math alum with an interesting story about your career after Gordon? Let us know and we'll toot our horn again!
Conference on Campus!
On Saturday, April 6th, it was once again time for the North Shore Undergraduate Mathematics Conference—but this time, it was at Gordon! Highlights of the ninth annual meeting included:
All in all, it was a great day to show off our campus to participants from seven different colleges from three states. Thanks to all, especially the many students who helped serve as greeters.
Rising senior Anne Lemmer '20 studied in the Budapest Semester in Math Education this spring. She reports loving all her classes in a "Great program, good people! Great place." Mathematical highlights include learning about manipulatives with the Poly-Universe creator, exploring convex geometry with friends, and asking questions about how many smaller squares you can break a big square into. Do you think studying abroad is all studying? Anne reports still having time to train for the Budapest half-marathon, weekend trips to nearby countries, and of course getting groceries at local open-air markets. And best of all, this program includes real-life teaching experience—in this case, teaching on surface area and volume using donuts and oranges!
Contact any math faculty member about this program, the Budapest math semester, or the new Oxford STEM semester.
Fall Math Forum Talks
We were delighted to have two very interesting Math Forum talks on famous mathematicians in Fall of 2018. First, we had the honor of welcoming Merrimack College professor Michael Bradley, whose five-volume work introducing secondary students to mathematicians through the centuries is in many libraries. Bradley spoke on the enigmatic genius Srinivasa Ramanujan, both in terms of his mathematics and how his cultural and religious background in southern India impacted him; his colleague Sujatha Thiruvengadathan graciously offered additional perspective on this latter topic as well.
Then at the cusp of Finals Week, ten seniors from MAT 491 Senior Seminar presented on ten different mathematicians - male and female, old and new, of many nationalities (see picture). (Two other students presented a few weeks earlier at the fall Northeastern MAA conference in New Hampshire.) From inspirational African-American pioneer Gloria Hewitt to Nobel laureate John Nash to translator of Euclid and Christian convert Xu Guangqi, we had a delightful time with many students visiting to hear friends speak.
Mathematics Senior wins Entrepreneurship Competition
At the end of October, Gordon's Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership hosted a "Startup Sandbox", where "student teams worked on developing new venture ideas." In a 36-hour sprint, seven teams competed for cash to begin their project.
Mathematics and economics double major Jackson Blue '19 from Arizona (far left) took the first prize with his idea, Roost, "a faith-based roommate match program and facilitation service". Later in the spring, he and a team of collaborators participated in the Social Venture Challenge as well. We congratulate all participants working to make useful ideas for improving lives.
October 16th, 2018 was a very special anniversary about a man surnamed Hamilton, whose ideas changed the world forever. That's right... William Rowan Hamilton's quaternions turned 175 years old!
Gordon celebrated this by bringing sweet snacks, a big screen to watch YouTube videos about quaternions on, and in general just having a good time. Let the math faculty know if you have another interesting idea about a mathematical party to have!
Learning about teaching in Budapest
A number of Gordon students have gone to Budapest in the past to study pure mathematics, but in summer 2018 Julie Lee '19 studied math education in the renowned Hungarian tradition for the first time! The new Budapest Semester in Math Education is a great way for students interested in teaching to explore a different approach while studying abroad. In September, Julie spoke to our Math Forum and had students work on different number theory and graph theory puzzles she also explored during her summer term experience, and answered many interesting and useful questions from students.
Mathematics as a discipline prepares you for anything, and this year's class exemplifies this with their diversity of interests and goals. The class of 2018 was celebrated on Saturday, May 19 with a rain-free morning graduation ceremony.
This year's class has double majors in economics, finance, computer science, physics, elementary and middle school education, music, philosophy, and accounting! They conquered classes from Calculus I through Linear Algebra to Real Analysis and Mathematical Statistics this last semester.
After graduation they will be living everywhere from Japan to Boston; work plans range from teaching in Salem, Mass., to ESPN data headquarters, to studying to be an airline pilot, to helping with a medical mission in Kenya; graduate school plans include PhD programs in applied math, economics, and computer science, but also music composition, leadership, and history.
We are very proud of our graduates and hope to share some of their stories in the coming years, just as we share previous alumni stories here now. Congratulations, Class of 2018!
Honors Graduates 2018
In a typical year, we may have one or two students receiving honors in the discipline. This year, however, no fewer than five Gordon math majors walked the stage with honors theses in four different disciplines—several directly related to mathematics, all using data in one way or another.
In addition, seven of our eighteen 2017–18 graduates were inducted into Gordon's academic honor society, Phi Alpha Chi. Congratulations to all our honors graduates!
North Shore Data Modeling Competition
Data science is a buzzword, but strong math and computer skills are what it is really about. Demonstrating this, two Gordon teams competed in the recent North Shore Data Modeling Competition, hosted by local colleagues at Endicott College and sponsored by Net Atlantic. Senior Matt Versland took home the grand prize in a solo effort, winning over $1000 by doing the best job solving an "original email marketing predictive modelling problem." Congratulations! See the full press release for a great picture of the winners.
Gordon presents talks at North Shore math conference
The eighth annual North Shore Undergraduate Mathematics Conference was held at Merrimack College on April 7, and Gordon was well-represented. In addition to competing in the team math event, we had two groups of presenters from MAT 353 talking on the topic of infinitesimals, and senior Brynn Grambow talking about how math and music interact. A highlight was Dr. Lauren Sager '11, now teaching at St. Anselm College, giving the keynote talk on the topic of the "Winding Number"!
You can see all of them in the picture, which also includes a graph of the many interrelationships between all the campuses represented. Next year's conference might be at Gordon; contact Dr. Crisman for further information.
This spring, we have several exciting opportunities for students! Some include Dr. Lauren Sager '11 visiting to talk in Math Forum, and the North Shore Undergraduate Mathematics Conference at Merrimack College; see the Math Events page on the left.
But on April 11–13, we have a very special guest, Wheaton College (IL) professor Robert Brabenec. He has been an expert on the teaching of Real Analysis (including a book of resources published by the Math Association of America) for fifty years and often gives talks on aspects of the history of analysis and calculus.
Among other topics, Dr. Brabenec will speak on notions of infinity and the roles of axioms in proving calculus works. Contact the mathematics program and Dr. Stout for more information and times/locations of the talks, and help us welcome this distinguished visitor to campus!
Wondering about studying off-campus? For the first time, Gordon has a mathematics student studying in Wales! Courtesy of Gordon's chemistry department partnership with Cardiff University, Joy Jin '19 is studying both mathematics and chemistry this spring. Here's a synopsis of what she has to say:
"I do love Cardiff!!! It is a smaller city than I expected, so you could explore the city. . . I like to chill out in my room and watch some movies on rainy days. Self-study is more important; we don't have exams or quizzes until the final, which is less stressful but means I have to study [independently] a lot."
What have Gordon's faculty been up to this fall and spring?
Dr. Senning was on sabbatical in Fall 2017, studying the hot topic of Machine Learning for future research work with students and bringing into upper-level math and computer science courses. A highlight for us this spring was his talk on "Dual Numbers and Automatic Differentiation" in the Math Forum; who knew there was a connection between algebra, calculus, and getting computers to recognize the difference between cats and dogs?
Dr. Veatch continues work on his “Informed compassion: how faith shapes decisions in Christian relief” planning grant from the CCCU, along with colleagues from MIT and Wheaton (IL). In Summer 2018 he will work with Shinae Lee '19 on an expanded survey and case study of how Christian agencies organize their responses to disasters.
Joint Meetings in San Diego
Every year, the world comes to the Joint Mathematics Meetings in January. This year, it was Gordon that came too! With two faculty, two current students and four alumni in or finishing Ph.D.s, it was quite a reunion!
Among alumni, Leonard Stevenson '13 presented portions of his thesis at Drexel University on non-commutative functions, while Melissa Haire '13 reported on her research at the University of Connecticut on quantitative literacy centers. We were also pleased to see Katharine Adamyk '14 representing the University of Colorado in the grad school fair and Lauren Sager '11 coming from St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH.
What about those still on campus? Seniors Rachel You and Luke Cui both presented in the undergraduate research poster session, on projects from the Math in Industry class the previous spring about DNA fragmentation and using graphs in Network Security, respectively. Dr. Crisman presented on teaching number theory interactively, as well as a minicourse for faculty on writing interactive texts using PreTeXt.
All in all, it was a great experience with beautiful weather and fellowship at the reception for the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences, with a talk by previous MAA president Francis Su. Here's looking forward to the next meetings in Baltimore!
MathFest in Chicago
Gordon senior Sarah Li and recent graduate Kevin Neil presented a poster in July at MathFest in Chicago based on their semester-long project for the Gordon College Registrar. The project, which studied classroom usage and improved methods of assigning rooms to classes, was part of a class funded by the National Science Foundation’s Preparation for Industrials Careers in Mathematics (PIC Math) program. While there they met other student teams from around the country. The project was timely for Gordon, which is just reaching the point where letting every department set the times of their courses is creating too much demand for classrooms at the most popular times.
Summer of Math
Although the day-to-day activities of the Gordon mathematics program cool down as the summer heats up, we still have plenty to occupy our time. What are your summer plans?
Thinking on the Alumni Front
With the end of classes, the Gordon mathematics team starts thinking of alumni. Do these apply to you? Maybe they will in four short years!
First, let us congratulate the many seniors who graduated on May 20th! Future plans include everything from further study in statistics to teaching in public elementary schools, from life in the web programming world to the Episcopal priesthood.
Secondly, if you are an alumnus/a, please enjoy reading our first-ever program newsletter! If you haven't received it, please contact our chair, Dr. Veatch.
Finally, we are pleased to announce that Gordon College mathematics has a LinkedIn Group! Please join it and stay updated, share contacts or advice, and so forth.
Math and Gordon around the Globe
Did you know that mathematics students can study abroad many places? Amanda Colon, a junior mathematics and finance double major, spent the spring semester studying business and economics at the University of Edinburgh. Amanda writes, “both academically and personally, I have learned a lot about independence. Gordon has really prepared me for the academic aspect of it, but more than anything, studying abroad is stretching me, maturing my values, and focusing my career interests.” She has also found time to explore the Scottish Highlands.
If you are interested in global study as part of your mathematics education at Gordon, don't hesitate to contact the Global Education Office for more information!
Back to Budapest - and Beyond
Gordon College is proud to have often sent its top students to the selective Budapest Semesters in Mathematics study abroad program. This year we once again have one, junior Leah Miller (left), who is taking courses on everything from complex analysis to philosophy of math.
But did you know that there is now also a program for computer science majors, the AIT Budapest program? Math and CS double major Christine Frandsen (right) is Gordon's first-ever participant in this growing study abroad option, where the real-life Eastern European high-tech industry meets the mathematical theory of computer science.
Joint Meetings in Atlanta
Every January the mathematics community comes together for a week of research and teaching talks along with lots of networking. As always, there was a Gordon contingent! This year, Dr. Crisman presented a talk on some classroom activities and led a workshop on a free math book authoring tool. It was a joy to reconnect with alumna Joy Kimmel '15, who is finishing her Master's in computational science at Georgia Tech.
However, the highlight was senior Sunny Kim presenting her summer research in "Voting with Broad Support" at the undergraduate poster session. Despite snow in Atlanta and many potential travel woes, she was able to show off her work to thousands of other mathematicians. Congratulations, and thanks to the Gordon College Undergraduate Research Council for making it possible!
The mathematics program was busy in Fall 2016. Here are a few highlights.
Odds and Ends
As we prepare to welcome the class of 2020 (!), it's worth noting a few odds and ends that have come our way.
By the way, don't forget the upcoming Math/CS Picnic at Professor Tuck's house the first full week of class! Hope you had a great summer.
Voting and Data Science at Spring MAA Meeting
Summer research students Luke Cui '18 and Sunny Kim '17 decided to get a leg up on presenting their work by giving an introduction to an interesting voting paradox in their student talk "The No-Show Paradox" at the Spring Meeting of the Northeastern Section of the Math Association of America. They received good feedback and definitely puzzled a few math professors with this interesting paradox in which voters do better by staying home!
Other highlights of the meeting included a very useful panel on data science careers (short version; everybody wants data scientists, but no one can define what they are) and a dinner talk by the president of the MAA, Francis Su. Held at the University of New England, it was a real treat for them as well as another student who came up. Dr. Crisman also participated on a panel on the SageMathCloud.
We'd like to congratulate all the graduating seniors! Commencement was a beautiful sunny day. We have students who will be starting a range of different careers as well. Among some of the interesting next steps:
Of special note is that Wesley Nelson graduated with honors, after defending his senior thesis on graphs and gene sequences. He will be starting in North Carolina State University's Ph.D. program this fall.
Dr. Stout and the Intrinsic Beauty of Mathematics
When you think of mathematics, the Gordon math faculty hope you think of beauty—especially Dr. Richard Stout. Now in his 36th year at Gordon, he's now been honored by a story on the main Gordon website which prominently discusses that beauty—as well as things like knitted ties and changes at Gordon over the years.
Why not join the students and alumni of whom he says, "I appreciate the number of students who have come through and grown over the years. I’ve grown to admire their faith commitment—their commitment to be people of God." And learn about the beauty God's shown in mathematics!
Gordon Junior Presents at Joint Mathematics Meetings
What did you do over your Christmas break? Math and Chemistry junior Rachel Olugbemi presented her summer research at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Seattle—along with six Thousand of her closest mathematical friends! There were hundreds of undergraduates presenting in the poster session alone (including her two collaborators, not pictured).
The Joint Meetings are the biggest math conference each year, and Drs. Stout, Senning, and Crisman also attended. But don't think you have to present there to have a great experience! For instance, watch out for news of the annual North Shore Undergraduate Math Conference, as well as local MAA meetings like the one Gordon hosted this past fall. Or maybe go with the Math Club to the Museum of Mathematics in NYC? Or you could even study abroad in Budapest—which is what Rachel is doing to follow up on her experience in Seattle.
Students Win at MAA Conference at Gordon
The Northeastern Section of the MAA hosted its fall sectional at Gordon, and with over 150 total participants a good time was had by faculty and students alike! We were proud of the many assistants and student ambassadors who welcomed visitors to campus - many for the first time - and of our Gordon students who gave talks.
Most impressive was the tie for 3rd place by the Gordon teams in the Collegiate Math Competition. Congratulations to the teams: Wes Nelson, Rachel Olugbemi, Luke Cui and Jacob Yang, Sadie Xiang, Rachel You!
Math Alumna wins national poster competition
Math alumna Maya Bam '12 is a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan in Operations Research. At the national INFORMS conference for this mathematical field, she won the Interactive Session on Tuesday with her poster "Surgery Scheduling with Recovery Resources." Congratulations!
Operations Research is a burgeoning discipline at the interface of mathematics, business, and other applications, often called "The Science of Better." Talk to Dr. Veatch to find out more about this field, or just take the introductory course with him next fall!
Mathematical Convocation Speaker on Humanitarian Logistics
Where can you use mathematics in real life? Can you use it to help those in need? Mathematician Jarrod Goentzel of MIT believes you can. He is the all-campus Convocation speaker on October 30th, speaking on "Humanitarian Supply Chains: Emergency Relief, Global Health, and Food Security." He focuses his research on "meeting human needs in resource-constrained settings" and has degrees from Tabor College, Colorado State, and Georgia Tech.
Mathematical Association of America Conference at Gordon!
The Northeastern Section of the MAA will be hosting its Fall Meeting at Gordon College for the first time! On November 20th and 21st, mathematicians and students from all over New England will converge in Wenham to enjoy student talks, invited speakers, a team math competition, and of course the last of the fall foliage. The meeting website has all the information you need.
On-campus, please contact Dr. Crisman or Dr. Veatch for more information, and email Dr. Senning post haste to volunteer as a student helper/ambassador.
Welcome Class of 2019!
With just a few weeks before classes begin, we're excited about both returning students and a strong incoming class of math majors. What were your best summer experiences, mathematically and spiritually? What are you excited about?
Also, please keep watching the Math Events page for information about the fall, such as our fall kickoff cookout, scheduled for Thursday, September 3rd!
Student presenting at Spring MAA Meeting
Graduating senior Peter Story just can't quit doing math and computer science! He presented at Keene State College in New Hampshire at the end of May, giving a talk about "Smartphone Movement as a Biometric."
This occurred at the Spring Meeting of the Math Association of America. Gordon will be hosting the Fall Meeting in November 2015—be sure to come join us!
We had about 20 graduating seniors at commencement this year; in recognition of this, some of the seniors decided to do something unusual with their mortarboards. Can you figure out what familiar mathematical constant they approximated?
During the time at Gordon, students develop close working relationships with faculty. This year, we celebrated this with a nice dinner and reminiscing time with all the seniors! Many already have jobs or graduate school options, including working for Raytheon and studying at Georgia Tech. Some will be teaching at high schools or middle schools near you!
Gordon team wins at North Shore math conference
The fifth annual North Shore Undergraduate Mathematics Conference was held at Merrimack College on March 28th. Four Gordon students attended and won the team math competition! Other activities included an invited talk on combinatorial game theory, student presentations by undergraduates at colleges such as Western New England and Salem State, and a lot of socializing at lunch with other people who enjoy wearing Pi Day shirts.
Next year's conference is scheduled to be at Salem State; contact Dr. Crisman for further information.
Gordon students to do research this summer
Two Gordon mathematics students will pursue undergraduate research this summer. Freshman Ethan Kang will work with Dr. Veatch on a Gordon-sponsored project in "Robust Optimization," while sophomore math and chemistry double major Rachel Olugbemi will travel to Tyler, Texas to research chemical graph theory in an NSF-sponsored research experience.
Many Gordon students do independent research as part of their undergraduate studies; contact any faculty member to talk about how this works!
Gordon student studying in Budapest
This spring, we pray for a good journey and studies for junior Wes Nelson, who will be studying in Budapest, Hungary, via the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics. This rigorous program has allowed top Gordon students to take a huge variety of courses (in English!) with other students from around the US in one of the world's mathematical capitals.
Think you might be interested? Talk to your advisor and the Global Education Office; you will need to take Real Analysis or Algebraic Structures before or during application.
Three of Gordon's four mathematics professors have had well-earned time to investigate scholarly matters—all of which they hope to bring back to the classroom too.
Math, Programming, and the Developing World
There are math opportunities to serve around the globe. In 2014, Dr. Crisman was invited to teach the basics of using programming to explore mathematics abroad and hopes to bring lessons learned back to Gordon students, perhaps finding connections for future internships or employment.
In the tropics of Chennai, the Institute for Mathematical Sciences hosts graduate students from all over India. Dr. Crisman ran the beginning of a course for these students, focused on using the open-source program Sage to do research. You can catch the lectures and videos on YouTube!
Later, he ran a course called "Experimental Mathematics with Sage" for the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cape Town. AIMS students from the entire African continent prepare for Ph.D. programs, industry, or to teach in their home countries. Working on homework can be fun with forty of your closest friends from Algeria to Zambia!
Museum of Math in NYC
In March 2014 the math club organized a day trip to the National Museum of Mathematics in Manhattan. The only museum in the nation dedicated to mathematics, the MoM opened in 2012 and has exhibits and programs for all ages. The participants got to see not only the museum but took in lunch and visited Central Park during this one-day trip
Congratulations to Olivia Gray and Katharine Adamyk, two senior mathematics majors! Olivia successfully presented and defended her honors thesis "Robust Optimization of Queues and Variations on a Series Line" this past December, while Katharine is entering the Ph.D. program in mathematics at the University of Colorado.
Also congratulations to junior Joy Kimmel, who has been accepted to several REU programs for the summer. She will be attending a program at Ohio Wesleyan University, working on weather modeling with several other students from across the country.
Gordon people attended many math-related conferences during 2013-14. In addition to the Joint Mathematics Meetings and MAA Sectional Meeting mentioned below, in April 2014 we hosted the fourth annual North Shore Undergraduate Math Conference.
Last November, Dr. Veatch gave a talk in Minneapolis at a national operations research conference. The topic, robust optimization, included some research done with Gordon senior Olivia Gray.
Drs. Crisman, Senning, and Stout all attended the May/June 2013 meeting of the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences at Bethel University.
MIT Graduate Student Speaks
In 2013, the proposal of an MIT graduate student in Operations Research, Peng Shi, was selected as the new way to help select schools for thousands of Boston public school students. Peng's combination of listening and robust analysis led to this adoption, showing data-driven simulation is a powerful tool for guiding public policy decisions. Peng is also the president of MIT's Graduate Christian Fellowship and spoke about all of these things on January 30th, 2014 in a well-attended Math Forum event in KOSC 109.
Students and Faculty Present at Joint Mathematics Meetings
Several Gordon faculty and one Gordon student attended the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Baltimore, the largest mathematics meeting in the world, during the first few days of the new semester in 2014.
Senior Katharine Adamyk presented a poster on her research into genes, games, and graphs from a summer research experience, and Dr. Crisman presented a poster on the new Mentoring Math Circles partnership with Girls Inc. of Lynn. Will we see you at the next meeting in San Antonio?
Gordon Students Place in Regional Math Competition
Mathematics seniors Olivia Gray and Katharine Adamyk placed second out of dozens of teams in the team math competition at the Northeastern Sectional meeting of the MAA in November. The problems were from geometry, calculus, number theory, and other areas. This is the fourth year Gordon has participated in the competition.
Summer Student Research in High Gear
Summer break doesn't keep Gordon mathematics students from pursuing new knowledge. Olivia Gray '14 and Juliann Booth '15 are engaged in two different types of applied research. Professor Jonathan Senning points out that it's not just useful, either—"there's beauty to be seen; here it comes by way of trying to do something useful."
Professor Mike Veatch is working with Olivia on investigating how manufacturing systems for everything from circuit boards to battleships can become 'clogged', and how to tell how congested a system is. Juliann's goal while working with Dr. Senning is to develop a computer tool using a method for generating random numbers following some constraints that can solve global optimization problems. See the full article for more details on their exciting summer of research!
Off to Graduate School
We'd like to congratulate seniors Melissa Haire and Leonard Stevenson, who will both be starting Ph.D. programs this fall! Melissa will be headed to the University of Connecticut, while Leonard will be studying at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Gordon Math program receives MAA grant
After two successful pilot events, Gordon College has received a grant from the Tensor Foundation and the Math Association of America in conjunction with the middle school program at Girls Inc. of Lynn. Gordon students will run a "Mentoring Math Circle" to inspire girls to adopt positive attitudes and curiosity towards mathematics. The Mentoring Math Circle will meet six times a semester (including a field trip) with Girls Inc. students to facilitate an exploratory mathematical experience.
The photo is from one of the pilot events, on soap films and math. Everyone had fun and some people even got a little wet!
High-Performance Computing comes to Gordon
For the past year, Professor Jonathan Senning (who holds a joint appointment in Mathematics and Computer Science) has been helping teach students to enter the cutting-edge world of high-performance computing with the help of grants from XSEDE, the Shodor Foundation, and the HPC Educators Program (SC12). Along with Peter Story '14 he attended a conference and built our own LittleFe small high-performance cluster, and students in the Parallel and High-Performance Computing class in Spring 2013 learned about topics such as using graphics cards and Hadoop - all for distributed computing.