Prof. Chartier to Share Math Education Innovations in Panama

The country of Panama has called on Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Tim Chartier to help its math teachers improve their teaching techniques.

Chartier and his spouse, Tanya, have been invited by the Panamanian National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation to present their "Mime-matics" show as the keynote presentation in a symposium of about 100 math educators working to improve their teaching techniques. In addition to the Dec. 2 keynote, the Chartiers will give a public Mime-matics performance at the same venue.

The Chartiers have gained widespread acclaim for Mime-matics, a creative performance in which they demonstrate mathematical concepts through mime.

The invitation from Panama came through Jeanette Shakalli, executive assistant of the National Secretary of Science, Technology and Innovation of Panama. She has seen presentations by the Chartiers at several professional meetings over the years, and was eager to share it with math educators in Panama.

"The Chartiers show that math is not only useful, but also fun and easy to understand. Seeing them on several occasions, I was blown away by their innovative teaching techniques," she said. "Kids and adults alike are so amazed by their presentation that I definitely wanted my fellow Panamanians to experience this mathematical adventure."

Remainder and infinity are among the concepts the Chartiers illustrate with mime. For instance, they explore the idea of infinity by continually cutting a rope in half.


Math Ambassador

In addition to Mime-matics, Chartier's pioneering work in sports analytics and applications of math in everyday life has gained wide acclaim.

He and two collaborators hold a U.S. patent on "A System and Process for Ranking Content on Social Networks Such as Twitter." He has also developed a popular system of predicting results of the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament.

Chartier is serving as second vice president of the Mathematics Association of America, and also serves on the editorial board for Math Horizons magazine. He was the first chair of the advisory council for the National Museum of Mathematics, where he continues to serve on the advisory council, and has been a resource for journalists from a number of national outlets, including ESPN's Sports Science. He also writes a science blog for the Huffington Post, contributes as a freelance writer for the New York Times, and serves as chief researcher for Tresata, a predictive analytics software company.

Chartier served on the Advisory Board for the Khan Academy course "Pixar in a Box," created by Pixar Animation Studios. He also helped Google launch three classes in its online Google Connected Classroom series, adding an emphasis on more math content. 

He has written several books that relate math to pop culture, explaining such applications as using math to create special effects in Star Wars, or finding your celebrity look-alike. The effectiveness of his techniques led the MAA to name him as its inaugural "Math Ambassador" in 2014, and he was selected to present a distinguished lecture at the MAA national office.

His book Math Bytes: Google Bombs, Chocolate-Covered Pi, and Other Cool Bits in Computing offers hands-on activities to engage in mathematical topics that involve computing. Big Data: How Data Analytics Is Transforming the World, presents the fundamentals of data analytics. When Life is Linear: From Computer Graphics to Bracketology delves into applications of linear algebra largely in the context of computer graphics and data mining. He has also coauthored a Princeton University Press book, Numerical Methods: Design, Analysis, and Computer Implementation of Algorithms.

As a researcher, Chartier has worked with both Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories on the development and analysis of computational methods targeted to increase efficiency and robustness of numerical simulation on the lab's supercomputers. The research with and beyond the labs was recognized with an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship. He also won a Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning College or University Mathematics Faculty.

He earned a doctorate in applied mathematics from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and began teaching at Davidson in 2003.


More Information

Listen to an interview with the Chartiers on WBUR's "Here and Now."


View clips of mime-matics:



Bill Giduz



  • December 2, 2016