Two North Country college professors adopted a student-oriented, conversational writing style and integrated real world applications when they wrote their newly published book on Linear Algebra.
McGraw Hill recently published Introduction to Linear Algebra with Applications by Daniel J. Gagliardi, assistant professor of mathematics at SUNY Canton, and James DeFranza, professor of mathematics, computer science and statistics at St. Lawrence University. Their motivation was to create an engaging text that students could read on their own to learn the fundamental ideas of linear algebra.
"Jim and I took a student-centered approach when we were writing this book," Gagliardi said. "Our aim was to strike a balance between a rigorous development of linear algebra and building intuition."
The two number-crunchers put their heads together to create their book that would be a perfect fit to the learning curve of college students who take the course, according to DeFranza. "We imagined ourselves in class with our students where we use accessible examples to motivate abstract concepts," he said. "Teaching at St. Lawrence University has given me the opportunity to work closely with mathematics students. This experience has helped in shaping this book and other texts I have written."
"Linear algebra is one of the first courses in the mathematics curriculum where students are exposed to abstraction at a much higher level," Gagliardi said. "They are required to write proofs of theorems and solve problems in higher dimensional spaces. Our book provides a gentle introduction where students can develop the necessary skills needed to achieve a greater understanding of the subject matter and its numerous applications."
Over the last few decades the applications of linear algebra have mushroomed, according to the authors. Recent advances have allowed for the development of high powered search engines to scan and rank web pages at lightning speed. Linear algebra is also used extensively to manipulate graphical information in fields as diverse as aeronautical engineering, medical imaging, and even video game development. In their textbook, professors Defranza and Gagliardi show how linear algebra can be used to solve problems in chemistry, engineering, economics, telecommunications, urban planning and nutrition.
Gagliardi joined the faculty of SUNY Canton in 2006. He began his technical career at IBM as a software engineer and received his Ph.D. from North Carolina State University in pure mathematics. His principle area of research is lie algebra and symmetric spaces. He also does work in graph theory and has collaboratively authored multiple scholarly articles in these fields.
DeFranza conducts research in functional analysis, sequence spaces, and classical summability theory. This is the fourth textbook he has authored. He is a 25-year St. Lawrence University faculty member and earned his bachelor's degree, master's degree, and Ph.D. from Kent State University. He is a frequent mentor and advisor to St. Lawrence students conducting independent research.
More: Faculty Scholarship at St. Lawrence
Posted: December 15, 2008