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Philadelphia Area Seminar on the History of Mathematics

Thursday, February 15, 2024 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Bonita Lawrence

Marshall University


Villanova University


Contact for ZOOM meeting ID and pass-code information. For general information about this series, visit:

The Marshall Differential Analyzer Project developed from an idea sparked by a visit to the London Science Museum’s display of historic differential analyzer machines. The primary goal of the project was to offer an alternative perspective, and hence an enhanced understanding, of the behavior of solutions to dynamic equations. As our study and the construction of our machines progressed, we found that the dynamic motion of the machine’s components and the sounds created offered observers an amazing physical connection to the “programed” mathematical equation. Through the years, our machines have been used to teach students about modeling physical systems with dynamic equations, for research studies, and to offer prospective students an alternative view of our mathematical structure. This presentation will begin with some discussion of the history of the development of these machines and of our own project. A general overview of the primary components of the machine and the relationship between the mechanics and the mathematics being modeled will follow. The big finale will be a live streaming of a run of the large four integrator machine, complete with a discussion of the link between the physical connections between the components and the differential equation under consideration.