HMC
Kalman ’74 Receives Trevor Evans Award for Harvey Plotter Tale

Oct 09, 2012 - Claremont, Calif. -

Dan Kalman ’74 and Nathan Carter were selected by the Mathematical Association of America as winners of the 2012 Trevor Evans Award for their article “Harvey Plotter and the Circle of Irrationality,” published in Math Horizons, vol. 19:2 (2011).

Their article shares mathematical concepts through a fictional tale about the evil Lord Voldemorphism, Harvey Plotter and Plotter’s faithful companions Hymernie and Rong. The story revolves around the trio’s attempts to find the rational points on the unit circle before Voldemorphism does. They quickly discover that they will need to use mathematics, not magic, to achieve their goal.

A summary of the article states: “The evil Lord Voldemorphism is trying to find the rational points on the unit circle. Harvey Plotter and his faithful companions, Hymernie and Rong, must try to determine the rational points before Lord Voldemorphism. Rong mentions that a line between two rational points always has a rational slope. He suggests they begin with (0, -1) and draw a line with rational slope; and then the other point will be rational. Hymernie knows Rong is confusing the converse with the contrapositive. With some work, they prove Rong's conjecture. They begin finding one rational point at a time, but they need all the rational points. A friendly suggestion by Professor Alphas Jumblemore reminds them to use a general p/q for the rational slope. Once done they realize that the rational points are Pythagorean Triples.”

Kalman teaches mathematics at American University in Washington, D.C. Previously he worked for eight years in the aerospace industry and taught at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. Kalman earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Harvey Mudd College and his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has been a frequent contributor to all of the MAA journals, has published two books with the MAA and has served on the editorial boards of both MAA book series and journals. Kalman has served the national and regional MAA in several capacities, including a term as associate executive director for programs, as the current governor for the MD-DC-VA section, and as a cast member of both productions of "MAA: The Musical!"

Earlier this year, Kalman received the MAA’s Beckenbach Book Prize for Uncommon Mathematical Excursions: Polynomia and Related Realms, which delves into high school through introductory college-level algebra, geometry and calculus.

Carter, who uses computer science to advance mathematics, is a faculty member at Bentley University.

The MAA Trevor Evans Award is given to authors of exceptional articles that are accessible to undergraduates and are published in Math Horizons. The awards are named for Trevor Evans, a distinguished mathematician, teacher and writer at Emory University.