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Roll Models

Tadashi Tokieda
The American Mathematical Monthly
Vol. 120, No. 3 (March 2013), pp. 265-282
DOI: 10.4169/amer.math.monthly.120.03.265
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Page Count: 18
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Roll Models
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Abstract These notes attempt a case study of applied mathematics for beginning students via problems of rolling. They do so by pointing out diverse surprising phenomena, many of which the reader can try at home, modeling them, and testing the limits of these models. One message is that rolling, because it tightly coordinates different modes of motion, tends to be more exactly solvable than meets the eye. Another message is that the thrill of applied mathematics is not in how difficult the mathematics is, but rather in what diversity of surprises in one’s own experience one can discover, then understand.

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