Norwich students to present paper at mathematics conference

Timothy PhelpsCharity CombsAs part of the work they are doing for Senior Seminar MA411, senior mathematics majors Cadet Charity Combs (Santa Clarita, CA) and Cadet Timothy Phelps (Lynn, MA) will give a presentation during the Student Paper Session at the fall conference of the Northeastern Section of the Mathematics Association of America (MAA). The conference takes place Friday November 19, 2004, at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), in Worcester, Mass.

The subject of their talk, "Predicting Academic Success Using CARTTM", addresses the problem of retention among various student populations at Norwich. CARTTM is a technique in which classification rules appear in the form of binary trees.

Professor Gerard T. LaVarnway, Ph.D., advisor for the senior seminar, explained the practical application for the students' analytical research.

"We are trying to predict academic success and develop models that are appropriate for Norwich," said LaVarnway, who feels that such decision tools may prove useful to colleges and universities trying to increase their retention rates.

"The specific approach the students are using is a non-parametric approach known as CARTTM, which stands for Classification and Regression Trees," said LaVarnway. "It is a very powerful, robust and data-driven technique."

According to Professor LaVarnway, Senior Seminar MA411 is designed to allow students to pursue studies and/or research in an area not typically found in a traditional course. The research undertaken by Combs and Phelps is related to a project that Professers LaVarnway and Frey have been working on for several years.

"It has been a real pleasure to work with these two individuals and to have them engaged in an applied mathematical problem of significant scope," said LaVarnway. "It is also gratifying for them to be given the opportunity to present their work at the conference along with students from other colleges and universities around New England."

As a final requisite for the course, Cadets Phelps and Combs will present their talk at Norwich as part of the mathematics department's colloquium series. That talk will take place on Tuesday, December 14, at 1:00 PM in Cabot 295.

The student paper has been submitted for consideration at the national joint meetings of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and the MAA in January., November 2004

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