I took Tom's multi-dimensional calculus class my freshman year, along with several friends. Tom asked my friend Neel Madan and me to work for him developing the software and examples for the class over the summer. I was tremendously surprised that a professor would ask freshmen students to work on course materials, but I learned that one of Professor Banchoff's trademarks as an educator was to turn students into colleagues in as short a time as possible.
Neel and I found an apartment together off Hope St., subletting downstairs from Ezra Miller, another math friend. We survived the warm summer and cool computer lab mainly subsisting on delicious meals that Neel's mother sent us from Lowell, Mass. We worked in the Sun Lab, under the supervision of Laura Dorfman. Laura was a complete expert, having written quite a few of the subsystems we were supposed to use. I remember the first month being a jumble of math concepts fighting with computer jargon, but with Laura and Neel's kindly help, I finally was able to get the math to win over the computer system and get some work done.
One particular project I remember working on was a set of illustrations for the upcoming 100th birthday celebration for Professor Dirk Struik of MIT, which Professor Banchoff was organizing at Brown. Professor Struik's book on differential geometry was a classic, but some of the 3-D illustrations were in fact incorrect. Neel and I worked on series of computer images with Professor Struik's book as inspiration. The one I remember best is the intersection of a sphere with a cylinder, and the shape of the curves that result.
My father had taken Professor Struik's differential geometry class during World War II at MIT, and appreciated Professor Struik's efforts to convey mathematics to a crowd of mostly physicists and engineers. It was very nice to be able to do something for his 100th birthday.
The next year, Neel and I were TA's in Professor Banchoff's class, and, as sophomores, had the pleasure of watching students learn from demonstrations we had written.
I later drifted over to physics, although I did finish my math degree with the help of Professors Eva Kallin and Andrew Browder.
My brother John came to Brown as a freshman the year after I graduated. An avid geometrical mathematician, he enjoyed the challenges of Tom's classes immensly, and collaborated with him on an independent project. I am currently finishing my Ph.D. in physics at MIT, and John is getting his Ph.D. in mathematics from UC Davis. My family will always be grateful to Professor Banchoff for his help and inspiration to John and myself.
— Julia Steinberger