Daniel King

BS, Lafayette College. MS, PhD, University of Virginia. Special interests in mathematics education, game theory, history and philosophy of mathematics, and the outreach of mathematics to the social sciences and the humanities. Author of research papers in the areas of nonassociative algebra, fair-division theory, and mathematics education; governor of the Metropolitan New York Section of the Mathematical Association of America; member, board of editors, The College Mathematics Journal. SLC, 1997–

Research Interests

Special interests in mathematics education, history and philosophy of mathematics, game theory, fair division theory, social choice theory, abstract algebra, applied statistics, and the outreach of mathematics to areas in the social sciences; author of research papers in the areas of Jordan theory, nonassociative superalgebras, fair division theory, mathematics education and mathematical literature.

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Mathematics

Abstract Algebra: Theory and Applications

Advanced , Seminar—Spring

Prerequisite: Calculus I and Discrete Mathematics or other evidence of successful preparation for advanced study in mathematics; permission of the instructor is required.

In pre-college mathematics courses, we studied the underlying methodology, concepts, and applications of basic algebra. We appointed letters of the alphabet to abstractly represent unknown quantities and translated real world (and often complicated) problems into simple equations whose solutions, if they could be found, held the key to greater understanding of the situation at hand. Fine, but algebra does not end there. Advanced algebra examines sets of various types of objects (matrices, polynomials, functions, rigid motions, etc.) and the operations that exist on these sets. The approach is axiomatic: One assumes a small number of basic properties, or axioms, and attempts to deduce all other properties of the mathematical system from these few properties. Such abstraction allows us to study, simultaneously, all of the various structures satisfying a given set of axioms and identify both their commonalties and their differences. Specific topics to be covered include groups, actions, isomorphisms, symmetries, permutations, rings, and fields and their various applications.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

An Introduction to Statistical Methods and Analysis

Open , Lecture—Fall

Mathematical prerequisite: basic high school algebra and geometry.

Correlation, regression, statistical significance, and margin of error. You’ve heard these terms and other statistical phrases bantered about before, and you’ve seen them interspersed in news reports and research articles. But what do they mean? And why are they important? And what exactly fueled the failure of statistical polls and projections leading up to the 2016 US presidential election? An introduction to the concepts, techniques, and reasoning central to the understanding of data, this lecture course focuses on the fundamental methods of statistical analysis used to gain insight into diverse areas of human interest. The use, misuse, and abuse of statistics will be the central focus of the course, and specific topics of exploration will be drawn from experimental design, sampling theory, data analysis, and statistical inference. Applications will be considered in current events, business, psychology, politics, medicine, and other areas of the natural and social sciences. Statistical (spreadsheet) software will be introduced and used extensively in this course, but no prior experience with the technology is assumed. Conference work will serve as a complete practicum of the theory learned in lecture: Students working closely in small teams will conceive, design, and fully execute a small-scale research study. This lecture is recommended for anybody wishing to be a better-informed consumer of data and strongly recommended for those planning to pursue graduate work and/or research in the natural sciences or social sciences.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

First-Year Studies: Everything (and Nearly Nothing) About Infinity

Open , FYS—Year

“There is a concept that corrupts and upsets all others. I speak not of Evil, whose limited realm is that of ethics; I refer to The Infinite.” So wrote Jorge Luis Borges, the highly influential, 20th-century Argentine writer, though Borges was not alone in his fascination with the subject matter. Indeed, the concept of infinity has been a virtual leitmotif in the history of intellectual thought. The pre-Socratic philosopher Zeno voiced concern over paradoxes involving infinity as related to physical motion, paradoxes that would not be fully resolved until the advent of “the calculus.” In the later Greek era, Euclid provided an elegant proof of the infinitude of prime numbers; and Archimedes, the greatest applied mathematician of antiquity, recognized infinity as a natural extension of the finite through limiting processes. Italian friar, poet, physicist, and mathematician Giordano Bruno, of early modernity, was burned at the stake by the Inquisition for his “antireligious” interest in the infinite and “unholy” belief in a heliocentric solar system. Galileo nearly suffered the same outcome. Newton and Leibniz simultaneously, yet independently, invented calculus, bridging the mathematical divide between the discrete and the continuous and harnessing the power imbedded in the concept of the infinitesimally small. The 19th-century German scholar Georg Cantor was the first to study Infinity with all of the usual rigor associated with other mathematical inquiries, though most of his contemporaries discredited his visionary efforts. Over the ages, writers, painters, musicians, and other artists have taken their turn in an effort to understand and depict infinity in its diverse forms. Though the approach of this first-year studies seminar will be decidedly mathematical, we will not hesitate to explore the notion of infinity from all of its multidisciplinary perspectives. Prior study of the calculus or more advanced mathematics is not a prerequisite for this course, but a willingness to explore and enjoy such hefty concepts is expected.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Discrete Mathematics: Gateway to Higher Mathematics

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

Some prior study of calculus is highly recommended.

There is a world of mathematics beyond what students learn in high-school algebra, geometry, and calculus courses. This seminar provides an introduction to this realm of elegant mathematical ideas. With an explicit goal of improving students’ mathematical reasoning and problem-solving skills, this seminar provides the ultimate intellectual workout. Five important themes are interwoven in the course: logic, proof, combinatorial analysis, discrete structures, and mathematical philosophy. For conference work, students may design and execute any appropriate project involving mathematics. This seminar is a must for students interested in advanced mathematical study and highly recommended for students with an interest in computer science, engineering, law, logic, or philosophy.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

Multivariable Modeling II: Differential Equations

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

Prerequisite: successful completion of Multivariable Modeling I or the equivalent (college-level courses in Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra).

Many laws governing physical and natural phenomena and, of late, a growing number of theories describing social phenomena are expressed in terms of the rates of change (derivatives) of interrelated variables. Differential equations, the branch of mathematics that explores these important relationships, provides a collection of tools and techniques fundamental to advanced study in engineering, physics, economics, and applied mathematics. The investigation of such equations and their applications will be the focus of this second half of the Multivariable Modeling two-course sequence. Conference work will involve a concentrated investigation of one application of multivariable mathematics.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

Game Theory: The Study of Strategy and Conflict

Open , Lecture—Spring

The minimum required preparation for successful study of game theory is one year each of high-school algebra and geometry. No other knowledge of mathematics or social science is presumed.

Warfare, elections, auctions, labor-management negotiations, inheritance disputes, even divorce—these and many other conflicts can be successfully understood and studied as games. A game, in the parlance of social scientists and mathematicians, is any situation involving two or more participants (players) capable of rationally choosing among a set of possible actions (strategies) that lead to some final result (outcome) of typically unequal value (payoff or utility) to the players. Game theory is the interdisciplinary study of conflict, whose primary goal is the answer to the single, simply stated but surprisingly complex question: What is the best way to “play”? Although the principles of game theory have been widely applied throughout the social and natural sciences, the greatest impact has been felt in the fields of economics, political science and biology. This course represents a survey of basic techniques and principles. Of primary interest will be the applications of the theory to real-world conflicts of historical or current interest.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

Multivariable Modeling I: Vectors, Functions, and Matrices

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

Prerequisite: successful completion of Calculus II or the equivalent (a score of 4 or 5 on the Calculus BC Advanced Placement exam).

Rarely is a quantity of interest (tomorrow’s temperature, unemployment rates across Europe, the cost of a spring break flight to Denver) a simple function of just one other variable. Reality, for better or worse, is mathematically multivariable. This course provides an introduction to an array of topics and tools used in the mathematical analysis of multivariable functions. The intertwined theories of vectors, functions, and matrices will be the central theme of exploration in this first semester of the Multivariable Modeling two-course sequence. Specific topics to be covered include the algebra and geometry of vectors in two, three, and higher dimensions; dot and cross products and their applications; equations of lines and planes in higher dimensions; solutions to systems of linear equations using Gaussian elimination; theory and applications of determinants, inverses, and eigenvectors; volumes of solids in three dimension via integration; and spherical and cylindrical coordinate systems. Conference work will involve a concentrated investigation of one application of multivariable mathematics.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

Linear Algebra: The Mathematics of Matrices and Vector Spaces

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

Prerequisite: prior study of Calculus or Discrete Mathematics.

An introduction to both the algebra and geometry of vector spaces and matrices, this course explores various mathematical concepts and tools used commonly in advanced mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry, and economics. Developing systematic methods of solving systems of linear equations is the underlying theme, and applications of the theory will be emphasized. Topics of exploration include Gaussian elimination, determinants, linear transformations, linear independence, bases, eigenvectors, and eigenvalues. Applications will be pursued in the realms of game theory, optimization and linear programming, network/graph theory, and medical imaging, among others. Conference time will be allocated to exploring additional applications of linear algebra or exploring another branch of mathematics. This seminar is intended for students interested in advanced mathematics, computer science, the physical sciences, and/or economics.

Faculty

Calculus II: Further Study of Motion and Change

Open , Seminar—Fall

Prerequisite: One year of high-school calculus or one semester of college-level calculus. Permission of the instructor is required.

This course continues the thread of mathematical inquiry following an initial study of the dual topics of differentiation and integration (see Calculus I course description). Topics to be explored in this course include the calculus of exponential and logarithmic functions, applications of integration theory to geometry, alternative coordinate systems, and power series representations of functions. For conference work, students may choose to undertake a deeper investigation of a single topic or application of the calculus or conduct a study in some other branch of mathematics. This seminar is intended for students interested in advanced study in mathematics or science, students preparing for careers in the health sciences or engineering, and any student wishing to broaden and enrich the life of the mind. The theory of limits, differentiation, and integration will be briefly reviewed at the beginning of the term.

Faculty

Calculus I: The Study of Motion and Change

Open , Seminar—Spring

Prerequisite: One year each of high-school algebra and geometry. Permission of the instructor is required.

The world is animated. Earth spins on its axis, as it rotates around the Sun; stock prices rise and fall; and an apple, acting solely in accordance with the laws of physics, falls onto the head of a modern day Newton. Calculus is the intriguing branch of mathematics whose primary goal is the understanding of the laws governing motion and change. The sum of the calculus—its methods, tools, and techniques—is often cited as one of the greatest intellectual achievements of humanity. Though just a few hundred years old, the calculus has become an indispensable research tool in both the natural and social sciences. Our study begins with the central concept of the limit and proceeds to explore the dual notions of differentiation and integration. Numerous applications of the theory will be examined. The pre-calculus topics of trigonometry and analytic geometry will be developed as the need arises. For conference work, students may choose to undertake a deeper investigation of a single topic or application of the calculus or conduct a study in some other branch of mathematics. This seminar is intended for students interested in advanced study in mathematics or science, students preparing for careers in the health sciences or engineering, and any student wishing to broaden and enrich the life of the mind.

Faculty

Additional Information

Activities

SLC Mathematical Resource Center

Co-Director

Providing assessment, counseling, and tutoring for students wishing to strengthen their mathematical skills.

Current committees

Curriculum Committee, Committee on Academic Preparation of Teachers

Former committees

Advisory Committee on Appointments and Tenure, General Committee, Web Advisory Committee, Advisory Committee for the Center for Continuing Education, Substance Use Committee, Admissions Committee, Sports Center Committee, Budget Committee

Professional affiliations

Metropolitan New York Section of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA)

Governor

A professional society of over 1,000 mathematicians in the greater New York City area focused on enhancing undergraduate mathematics education.

The College Mathematics Journal

Member of Board of Editors

A publication of the Mathematics Association of America that publishes articles, short Classroom Capsules, problems, solutions, media reviews and other pieces specifically aimed at the college mathematics curriculum with emphasis on topics taught in the first two years.

Section NExT: New Experiences in Teaching

Co-founder

A program aimed at supporting new and rising Ph.D's in mathematics or mathematics education. Section NExT is a local version of the highly successful national MAA program Project NExT. Like Project NExT, Section NExT's goal is to support new and pre-tenured faculty who are interested in improving the teaching and learning of undergraduate mathematics. Section NExT aims to provide New York area mathematicians who have recently entered the profession with practical information about, and concrete suggestions for, implementing more effective pedagogical and professional strategies, ranging from new teaching methods to writing grant proposals and balancing teaching and research responsibilities.

Selected Publications

Mathematical Ideas and Images in the Works of Jorge Luis Borges

(In progress with students N. Mendoza, H. Mezzabolta, N. Scott and C. Wolf)

Efficient Fair Division: Helping the Worst Off or Avoiding Envy?

Rationality and Society

17, no. 4, November 2005

From Calculus to Topology: Teaching Lecture-Free Seminar Courses at all levels of the Undergraduate Mathematics Curriculum

PRiMUS (Problems, Resources, and issues in Mathematics Undergraduate Studies)

September, 2002

Quadratic Jordan Superalgebras

Communications in Algebra

29 (2000), 375-401

The Kantor Doubling Process Revisited

Communications in Algebra

23 (1995), 357-372 (with Kevin McCrimmon)

The Split Kac Superalgebra K10

Communications in Algebra

22 (1994), 29-40

The Kantor Construction of Jordan Superalgebras

Communications in Algebra

20 (1992), 109-126 (with Kevin McCrimmon)

Lectures, Talks and Presentations

“Win, Lose or Draw (But Most Likely Win!): The Mathematics of TV Game Shows”

Science Seminar Series, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY, November 2010

“The Mathematics of Conflict: Games Against Gods and Criminals”

Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh, NY, November 2010

“What’s Wrong with the Electoral College? Historical and Mathematical Perspectives”

Dutchess Community College, Poughkeepsie, NY, September 2009

“Jorge Luis Borges and Mathematics”

Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH, April, 2008