Math scholar headed toward career as professor and researcher

2012-12-24T00:00:00Z Math scholar headed toward career as professor and researcherBy Kimberly Cheek-Stanley Times Correspondent
December 24, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Purdue University Calumet senior Tyler Billingsley was recently awarded the Trjitzinsky Scholarship by the American Mathematical Society for his outstanding work in mathematics.

The Hobart resident was one of seven students selected nationally to receive a $3,000 stipend.

“Tyler has consistently focused on his long-term goal to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics,” Catherine Murphy, head of PUC’s Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics, said. “He has done this by taking as many master’s level courses as possible, taking independent studies in advanced mathematical topics not taught at Purdue Calumet and participating in undergraduate research projects.”

Billingsley, a dean’s list student, holds a 4.0 grade point average as a mathematics major and plans to become a professor of mathematics after obtaining his Ph.D.

“My ideal career would be teaching at the college level and conducting research in the area I choose to specialize in when I attend graduate school. I’m not entirely sure what I want to specialize in yet,” he said.

On campus, Billingsley has conducted research involving polynomial factoring in computer algebra systems.

“A computer algebra system is a computer program specially designed to do math, particularly math that is beyond basic arithmetic,” he said.

“Polynomial factoring is a topic usually encountered in first-year algebra courses in high school. Although most of us were trained to do this at some point, it is surprisingly difficult to train a computer to do it.”

In addition, Billingsley studied abstract algebra as part of an independent studies program for advanced students.

“I like the way everything (in math) is logically connected. Unlike in an experimental science, where something that was once thought to be true can be disproved eventually, once something is proven in mathematics, the result is permanent,” he said.

“Mathematics is everywhere, and its most important role is usually behind the scenes. Although someone might not be using mathematics every day in his job, it can still explain how many things work, such as a machine or a quality control process in a manufacturing plant.”

“It felt like a great honor to be selected by the faculty at Purdue University Calumet as the one who would make the most of the scholarship.”

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