The goal of the project is to investigate a function of two variables built from a student's social security number. The digits ABC-DE-FGHI of the number are taken mod 3 (to keep them small) and substituted into the following template
The student must investigate her (non-trivial) function to give a general description of what the surface looks like, determine the number and approximate locations of all local maximas, minimas and saddle points, and find the location and value of the absolute maximum and the absolute minimum. Moreover, she is asked to compute the maximum and minimum values of her function along the unit circle. My students enjoy this assignment more than traditional homework problems because of its individual nature and because of the interesting phenomena that can occur. It is not unusual for a student to proudly show off her surface and describe its features.
View paper in HTML format.
View paper in Adobe Acrobat format.
Last modified: August 2000