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Faculty Research Forum to feature February 12 talk about mathematical induction

ISSUED: 31 January 2018
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s Faculty Research Forum will delve into the world of mathematics with a talk by Dr. Karen Adams, assistant professor of mathematics, who will give a talk titled “The Art of Mathematical Induction” on Monday, February 12, at 4 p.m. in the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium.

Adams will present and discuss two mathematical proofs she has published that show creativity can be part of the proof by induction process.

“Proof by induction is a specific type of proof that involves showing that a statement is true over the entire set of natural numbers,” Adams said. “For example, say I claim to have a formula that produces prime numbers. When I plug in the value one, I can demonstrate that my formula produces a prime number. When I plug in the value two, my formula produces another prime number, and so on. How could I prove to you that my formula always produces a prime number no matter what natural number you start with? That is the power of induction.”

Adams will not only talk about the process of mathematical induction, but she will show it is more than just a procedural method that leads to an expected conclusion.

“At the introductory level, mathematical induction can look procedural in nature and students often try to memorize a process,” Adams said. “The art of induction is that it can be used in unexpected ways to prove a variety of statements. My two proofs involve unexpected uses of induction in inequalities of infinite sums over the set of real values.”

Adams said she was drawn to math and enjoys teaching it because the language is precise.

“Math is the only field where a statement can be unequivocally proven true or demonstrated as false,” she said. “There is no gray area.”

For more information about Shepherd’s Faculty Research Forum, visit www.shepherd.edu/frf.

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