Response from Prof. B.

Thank you for your reflections. Your comment on the visual arts course brings up some interesting comparisons. I wish I had been more active in seeking commentary of this sort, where students made associations with their other courses. Some of the best interchanges during the semester occurred when someone connected two things from their reading or from other lectures.

Other students have echoed your suggestion that some exercises, of different degrees of challenge, could have provided some more structure for the course. The implied structure given by the book needs some augmentation, and there will be some in future versions.

As a person not already committed to using technology in writing, your comments are important as we evaluate the course and the possible continuations in the future. I'm glad that you saw positive aspects to go along with the negative impressions. We certainly will have better tutorials in the future.

Your comments on your experience in the group were well taken. Originally there were to be two persons in your group who would concentrate on writing, but the other person, a woman as it happens, had apparently dropped the course by that time without letting anyone know. It is always difficult to come into a group where the other participants already know one another, and it might have been better to have encouraged people to seek new associations. In some of the other groups, as you undoubtedly noted, the efforts were much more diverse, with individuals taking on tasks and only at the end making some partial attempt to fit their various contributions together. The Polyobjects Group did appear to have a much more cohesive presentation, but I can see that you might have felt unsure of what your contribution could be in that effort. It is important to keep several audiences in mind when putting such presentations together, and it seems that you had some effect in making different parts accessible just by raising questions and suggesting preliminary writeups. In any case, it sounds as if it was a learning experience, even if it did not work the way you would have chosen.

Course Grade: Satisfactory.

Comments on the Polyobjects Group

Your investigations were particularly successful in giving access to new tools for interacting with familiar geometric objects in three- and four-dimensional space. The Java applets will doubtless add quite a bit to future versions of this course, especially when they are extended to deal with filled-in objects in a reasonable amount of time. There should be algorithms for slicing general objects from arbitrary directions, of course, and some demonstrations showing how to move from an object to its dual. The ideas of truncating polyhedra or polytopes to produce semi-regular objects is also ripe for interactive illustrations. All in all your work has advanced the level of geometric interaction considerably, not just in the final project but throughout the semester, and it was effective to see how some of your earlier work was incorporated in your presentation.

The links to other sites are also very good to have, and it will be interesting in the future to explore the relationship between VRML, Java applets, and highly rendered individual objects. It would also be useful to link to some of the other projects, in particular those that deal with the axiomatic approach or the literary and artistic topics that use polytopes, duality, et cetera.

There is so much more to be done, taking off from the platform you have set up here. Good work in getting this effort off to such a strong start.