Kevin Park, Staff Writer
Math Analysis Computational Honors (MACH), run by math teacher Michel Paul, provides students an extraordinary environment for math class, involving both computer science and math. MACH has been successfully run since it debuted two years ago, with an enrollment of 80 students who are both interested in learning both math and computer science.
MACH is different from Regular Math Analysis or Math Analysis Honors in many ways. The fundamental difference between the ordinary Math Analysis courses and MACH is the involvement of computational thinking. Paul claims that computational thinking in math is the new way of learning math, after the development of technology in last decades.
“The primary difference is in the term ‘computational’. Computational thinking doesn’t simply mean ‘using technology’. It’s a kind of reasoning. Computational thinking opens the doors for a kind of experimentation. It’s a new way of thinking,” Paul said.
Furthermore, the main difference is imbedded in its way of learning. Although MACH is positioned as same leveled class as Math Analysis, the course is quite different from the traditional mathematics course. The involvement of programming requires students to think more creatively, analyze the problem precisely and digest the fundamental materials of mathematics fully, not just be able to solve given equations. Throughout a year, students learn from the very basic to intermediate level of programming.
“We start off learning functional programming. Functional programming has its roots in research in the foundations of mathematics. When you learn to think functionally you learn to decompose a problem or idea into a set of interacting functions. Towards the end of the year we take a look at object oriented programming. Object oriented programming means your program is a description of the behavior of a type of object. These styles of thinking are quite relevant to how mathematicians and scientists actually do their work these days, and it is well worth it for students to get to study it,” Paul said.
Most importantly, MACH provides students an extensive opportunity to explore the world of programming, collaborating with things that students regularly learn in Math Analysis. Paul claims that the purpose behind MACH is to give students a foundation of computer science so that they can go on to study in a higher level in future.
“The primary issue is programming. Learning how to program opens up a lot more doors than a typical high school math class does. When you learn how to program you learn how to express your thoughts in a way that they can take on a life of their own. When you program you get to see the consequences of your ideas right away. It’s a great way to learn as long as you’re not intimidated by error messages,” Paul said.
Math Analysis is scheduled to continue next year as well. Students from any grade level are eligible for enrollment if they have earned an A or B in AAT or FST, or an A in IAT.