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Southeastern NEWS

Southeastern Louisiana University
Public Information Office
publicinfo@selu.edu
SLU 880, Hammond, LA 70402
504/549-2341/fax 504-549-2061
Date: 2/22/99
Contact:                           Christina Chapple

Editors: Photo accompanies release   Please note local interest
"PROBLEM OF THE WEEK" NO  PROBLEM FOR HHS STUDENT AT SLU
HAMMOND -- Each week, Southeastern Louisiana University's national mathematics
honor society, Pi Mu Epsilon, posts a "Problem of the Week" -- a riddle, a geometry puzzle, a
brainteaser -- for students to solve. Once a month, the problem gets harder, requiring some
knowledge of calculus to come up with the answer.
The idea behind the monthly contest, explains Pi Mu Epsilon President Rich Garner of
Hammond, is to promote mathematics in general and to get students interested in "doing more
than just their class work." "We have a wealth of mathematical talent at Southeastern," agrees
mathematics instructor Danny Acosta, Pi Mu Epsilon's adviser.
The most recent "Mathematician of the Month" winner was Antimony Gerhardt, a
Hammond High School student who is taking a Calculus II course at Southeastern this spring
through the university's Superior Juniors Program.
"Antimony distinguished herself by submitting correct solutions to several problems of
the week, and a most interesting solution to the problem of the month," Acosta said.
Briefly, the problem posed to Antimony and her fellow Southeastern mathematics
students was, "If a randomly thrown dart strikes a square dartboard, find the probability that the
dart lands closer to the center of the dartboard than to any of the four edges."
Antimony divided the dartboard into two regions: an inner region consisting of points
actually closer to the center than to any of the edges, and an outer region. A point is in the outer
region if it is closer to one of the edges than to the center. The probability of striking the inner
region is then just the area of this inner region, divided by the area of the entire square dartboard.
"The tricky part," Acosta said, "is finding the area of this odd shaped inner region, and
(MORE)
"PROBLEM OF THE WEEK"   Add One
this is where calculus is needed. By a clever use of polar coordinates and an appropriate integral,
Antimony found the probability. The probability of the dart landing closer to the center than to
any of the four edges for a randomly thrown dart is a little over 20 percent."
Antimony's correct calculations won her a \$25 Southeastern Bookstore gift certificate.
In addition to her interest in mathematics, the Hammond High junior is parliamentarian of
the Junior Class and the Student Council, president of the Key Club, vice president of the
Science Club and co-editor of the yearbook. She is also a member of the varsity tennis team and
is ranked sixth by the Louisiana Tennis Association in the girls 18-under singles category.
Her goal, she said, is to study electrical engineering and pursue a career as a registered
professional engineer in the application of artificial intelligence in the biomedical field.

CUTLINE ...
SUPER PROBLEM SOLVER   Antimony Gerhardt, right, a Hammond High School student
attending Southeastern Louisiana University through the Superior Juniors Program, was recently
chosen "Mathematician of the Month" by Southeastern's Pi Mu Epsilon national mathematics
honor society. With her are mathematics instructor Danny Acosta, left, and Pi Mu Epsilon
president  Rich Garner of Hammond, center.
- SLU -
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