Using Math to Analyze Sports, Music, Biology and Cars – UNC Asheville Presents Math Literacy Week, Beginning March 27

Featured image: 
Tim Chartier

UNC Asheville’s Department of Mathematics will present a series of talks during Math Literacy Week which begins March 27, demonstrating how to use math to better understand sports, music and more.  The keynote talk will be the annual Parsons Lecture, delivered this year by Tim Chartier of Davidson College – Playing from a Laptop: Sports Analytics, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 30 in UNC Asheville’s Kimmel Arena. All Math Literacy Week activities are free and open to the public.

Monday, March 27 – Notes and Numbers: An Introduction to the Analysis of Atonal Music

  • Presenter: Christine Boone, UNC Asheville assistant professor of music
  • Description: Without a key center, atonal music can tend to sound random, and connections between sets of pitches can be difficult to hear. Using a mod-12 system and basic math, however, underlying structures can be revealed. During this presentation, Boone will outline the mathematical techniques necessary to find the normal order, prime form, and interval vector of a musical set, and discuss what those values tell us about the music itself. Advanced formulas, such as those determining similarity relations, will also be touched upon.
  • 7 p.m. in UNC Asheville’s Karpen Hall, Laurel Forum

Tuesday, March 28 – The Mathematics of EVs

  • Presenter: Rudy Beharrysingh, director of UNC Asheville’s Parsons Math Lab, Nissan Leaf driver and president of the Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club 
  • Description: From battery life to range, there are many myths surrounding electric cars. This presentation will mathematically demystify EVs. Using techniques from simple unit conversion to a little calculus, Beharrysingh will make the case for electric vehicles while exploring the inner workings of these simple, yet powerful machines. This is for anyone who is interested in the future of transportation.
  • 7 p.m. in UNC Asheville’s Karpen Hall, Laurel Forum

Wednesday, March 29 – Morphology and Mathematics: Exploring Biological Structure and Function

  • Presenter: Christopher Nicolay, UNC Asheville associate professor of biology
  • Description: Morphology is the study of physical variation in size, shape, and anatomical structure. The discipline is devoted to and essential for understanding the biology of whole organisms. Quantifying anatomical variation, assessing the functional consequences of variation, and understanding the evolutionary and developmental emergence of form are the main goals of the morphologist. This session will outline the goals and challenges encountered in the study of animal structure, and introduce some interesting mathematical approaches (including fractal analysis and thin plate splines) that have been employed to quantify and analyze aspects of animal morphology, particularly the vertebrate skull.
  • 7 p.m. in UNC Asheville’s Karpen Hall, Laurel Forum

Thursday, March 30 – The 2017 Parsons Lecture – Playing from a Laptop: Sports Analytics

  • Presenter: Tim Chartier, Davidson College professor of mathematics and computer science and chief researcher for Tresata, a predictive analytics software company
  • Description: Sports analytics is a growing field. The larger field of data analytics is exploding as a field requiring skills in mathematics and computer science. This talk will discuss a variety of projects Chartier has directed with his students, including non-math majors. His projects have varied from helping the German National Basketball Team to his own college teams. He’s also aided the NBA, NASCAR, and ESPN. Learn how to play a sport — as a sports analyst.
  • 7 p.m. in UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center, Kimmel Arena

UNC Asheville’s annual Parsons Lecture is funded through an endowment from a mathematics alumnus in honor of Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Joe Parsons. The goal of the Parsons Lecture is to bring to Asheville a nationally renowned mathematician able to communicate mathematical concepts and use with a general audience.

For more information, contact Sheryl Donaldson in UNC Asheville’s Department of Mathematics, or 828.251.6556, or visit