Math professor, student present at conference

On April 12, 2019 at Hood College, an assistant professor of mathematics and one of his students presented their work from the summer of 2018 in poster form. Dr. Benjamin Wilson and Evan Williams, applied mathematics major, presented on the entropy of different languages using mathematical formulas to find the predictability of languages around the world.

Dr. Benjamin Wilson has been an assistant professor of mathematics at Stevenson since 2015. His research focuses on dynamical systems, ergodic theory and symbolic dynamics. (Photo from School of the Sciences website)

The conference was hosted by the Mathematical Association of America, Maryland-District of Columbia-Virginia Section, and it was co-hosted by Hood College and Frederick Community College. This is a meeting that occurs every spring and fall to give local students and professors the opportunity to present complex research they have conducted. At this conference, members were able to present their work and hear about the research done by other associates during their presentations. The conference included participatory workshops, several keynote addresses, and an election of new officers.

Wilson has been a mathematics professor at Stevenson University since 2015 and teaches a variety of classes in that subject. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Lehigh University in 2009 and his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015. His research primarily focuses on pure mathematics, including the study of dynamical systems, ergodic theory and symbolic dynamics, according to his biography page on the Stevenson School of Sciences website.

Their work is titled, “Around the World in 239 Translations: Computing the Entropy of Written Language Using the Bible.” Their research examined the predictability of various languages by computing quantities based on n-gram frequencies in the translations of the Bible in each language. This helped them theorize that more predictable languages are easier to learn.

Williams is a junior applied mathematics major at Stevenson, and he is also a defenseman on the men’s ice hockey team. He hails from Selinsgrove, PA and played his junior hockey career for the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers in the Eastern Hockey League (EHL).

Williams worked on these findings with Wilson in the summer of 2018 at the Summer Science Scholar Research Program (S3RP) at Stevenson.

“This internship was a great challenge for me and offered me the tools to study my research,” said Williams.

Williams plans to work for CareFirst in Owings Mills, Md., in the summer of 2019, where he will conduct strategic market research.

“I’m excited to work for CareFirst this summer,” said Williams, “and I think it will be a great opportunity to start a career in this field.”

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