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Undergraduate research work accepted for publication

Poster by Wei and Xiao presented at Fall 2010 Student Research Conference
7/8/2011 —
A joint research paper, based on a research project of Penn State Greater Allegheny students Sheng Wei and Xuerong Xiao under the direction of mathematics professor Zhibo Chen, was accepted for publication in the International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology. The refereed research journal, for mathematicians and mathematics educators, provides a medium by which new ideas and experience in mathematical education can be presented.

The groundwork for their article titled “Finding Sums for an Infinite Class of Alternating Series,” began when the students took Chen’s calculus class as freshmen in the fall of 2009. “They both had a solid background in high school mathematics and admirable diligence,” said Chen. To inspire their interest, he gave them some copies of published papers on college math as well as his joint papers with former students.

“In May 2010, Sheng Wei asked to do research during the summer while he was visiting his family in China,” said Chen. “I gave him some harder problems than he’d had in calculus class, but still solvable by a talented student through hard work.” Wei worked on the problems persistently during the summer and succeeded in solving them.

In the summer of 2010, both Wei and Xiao were approved to be Schreyer Scholars. That fall, they took MATH 297H, a special topics class for honors credit with Chen. One of the topics for the class was, “How to find sum for Infinite Series.” Through months of diligent work, they got impressive results, which were first presented at the campus student research conference in November 2010. Along with another project of theirs, they won the top two places in the honors category. Later they participated in a student research poster exhibition at University Park in the spring of 2011. Following that event, their co-authored paper was submitted by Chen to the journal for publication.

In talking about their research experience both students said that they greatly benefited. “Through the research, I not only learned a great deal of mathematics, but more importantly, I learned the spirit of perseverance, constant curiosity and hard work which are indispensible in research as in every other goal that we need to achieve in our life,” said Wei. “Some problems required research; some required skilled use of knowledge; some needed clever ideas...I not only learned mathematics, but also the courage to seek another way out when trapped in catacombs.” said Xiao.

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