The Math Images Project is a wiki collaboration between Swarthmore College, the Math Forum at Drexel University, and the National Science Digital Library. The Project aims to introduce the public to mathematics through beautiful and intriguing images found throughout the fields of math. Using Mediawiki, the Project encourages a collaborative atmosphere in which contributors find images, write an explanation, and educate members of the community through discussion.
The National Science Digital Library and National Science Foundation provide the NDR, or National Science Digital Library Digital Repository. The NDR stores links and metadata to websites for use by educators and researchers. The Math Images Project uses the wiki extension built by the NSDL to submit page links and metadata to the NDR, allowing the Project to be of use to the greater education community.
On a smaller scale, the wiki uses an internet forum wiki extension to replace the community portal, thus allowing easy discussion and administration of the threads. The new community portal is designed to allow easy interaction between contributors and the developers, as well as serving as a mini-blog and feedback forum.
The Project, like Wikipedia, requests that all images be released under the GNU GPL in order to maintain the wiki attitude. Images are culled from Google Images or reputable educational sites, the authors located and emailed a letter requesting permission, and approved images are added to the wiki.
The main goal of the Project is education, and thus the wiki is oriented to provide the most useful educational experience to the community. The levels of education allow easy searching and collating of information, while the community discussion elaborates upon the basic information provided with each image.
The Math Images project began as a gleam in the eye of Gene Klotz who teaches at Swarthmore College and plays at the Math Forum @ Drexel. In the summer of 2005 then Swarthmore students Rebecca Benjamin, Chayapa Darayon, Samantha Graffeo, and Jon Greenberg fished the web and found over 1200 images they found both interesting and related to mathematics. They also developed a database containing detailed information about the images. (Interestingly, perhaps a third of these images are no longer available on the web, although good new material keeps arriving.) Working with ITS staff member Liz Evans and Math Lab Coordinator Steven Amgott, they also incorporated screensaver software to show the images on a computer in the department hallway.
During the summer of 2006 Swarthmore student Wenxin Du developed software that nicely illustrated the ideas we then had in mind, many of which have since changed for the better. For, during the next summer, developing several wikis with Swarthmore students Rachel Lee, Heidi Wong, and Sam Schneider, it became clear that MediaWiki software was the way to go for Math Images. NSF’s CCLI agreed and gave us a Stage 1 grant enabling students at Swarthmore and Drexel to work on the project during the summer of 2009, and the NSDL (National Science Digital Library) Technical Infrastructure Group at Cornell University to work with a group of Swarthmore students to develop the wiki site.
So during the summer of 2008, Swarthmore students Keith Blaha, Will Hopkins, Maria Kelly, and Chengetai Mahomva developed the beta version of the site you’re now visiting (with a little help from programmers Liz Evans at Swarthmore, and Amir Tahvildaran and Seymen Fishman of the Math Forum, along with the NSDL technical group at Cornell who developed some needed wiki extensions). The students did a splendid job of taking and extending the good parts of my ideas and put them in a proper context. Thanks, students. GK 9/08.