My, that blue background does provide some interesting contrast. I'm not sure how long I could read a screen in that color, but these reflections did come through loud and clear. It may be that you will want to include some of them on the top of your CPR for this course since that generally makes the CPR itself more of an interchange, in the spirit of this course.

Your comments about the paperless course remind me that we probably could have shared experiences earlier in the semester about the ways this approach is being used already in other parts of the university, or in other universities for that matter. There has been some discussion of various experiments, and Professor Baird in particular recently made a presentation about the chemistry labs to a group of professors and students concerned with educational innovation. We have a lot to learn from one another.

I'm not sure that paperless courses will save that much energy ultimately, but I am convinced that they are the way to go in many situations. The next time we do the course, there will be some standard HTML instruction that will make things proceed more smoothly for those not already familiar with it. What sorts of introduction did you get in other courses, by the way?

Below are the general comments for your group. As you will see, I think that the section on Recreations and Games would have been more useful to the class if there had been some more selection to identify items of particular interest to our enterprise. Some are after all much more "mathematical" or "dimensional" than others. But I agree that it is impressive to see so many different references out there.

Overall your participation has been quite good and timely. Your previous HTML experience helped you get into it very nicely, and I appreciate the effort you have put into the class. I hope that the positive experience with mathematical ideas will continue in your other experiences at Brown and afterwards.

Course Grade: Satisfactory

Commentary to the Maze Group

Your Website and your presentations raise some questions about the technology and the subject matter that I hope you will all address in your final evaluations of the course and your participation in it. Although your work has furthered the study of mazes and labyrinths beyond the preliminary investigation that some of you carried on in the book report exercise earlier in the semester, it does not seem that there has been that much progress in understanding the mathematical principles involved, in particular the function of dimension in the subject. It may be that there just isn't that much there, and the subject is too easily exhausted.

Let me comment on several aspects of your website. The overall structure is certainly fine, inviting the reader to explore the concept in literature, history, art, recreations, and algorithms, but there could have been more of an attempt to coordinate the form of the various sections. All of the pages seem quite wordy, unrelieved by illustrations, even though there were links to visual material.

It would have helped in the literary portion to include links to biographical information on the various authors, especially George Eliot with her Victorian connections. The Borges link is a nice one, although itself a bit rough and unscholarly in its writing. The background texture on the Auden poem makes it difficult to read, and it would have been better to analyze it somewhat, since it is a fairly good poem and it does bring up a number of interlinked images that can be related to other aspects of the topic. In particular it is one of the most "dimensional" of the literary examples in that it explores the concept of an overview. This overview notion shows up in at least one of the computer games, where a player can navigate a series of rooms without looking at the floor plan, or choose to see the plan of the maze "from above". That would have been a nice way to establish some linkages within the final project, to get away from the impression that the parts are separate somewhat unrelated entities.

The history section would have done well to link to some of the artistic representations of the Minotaur legend (there is an nice on in the "Mazes and Mathematics" link in the Recreations and Games subsection) as well as to some more serious sources of information of the encyclopedia variety. It should not be necessary to highlight the words each time they appear in the page, a very distracting feature. The link to Borges is not particularly historical, and the "Greece" link only goes to a very general source on mythology, with no further information on how to follow that thread. "Crete" appears to go to a travel folder, and "Nile" to a field trip, neither of which adds much to the narrative or gives any information that might be useful to labyrinths, mathematical or otherwise. There must be more legitimate sources out there.

In the art presentation, although the choice of images includes some that are quite striking, there is not enough elaboration to show how the mathematical concepts are suggested. The link to Escher for example does not lead to anything specifically related to mazes and there is little assistance provided in the text. There has to be some further biographical information provided about the unfamiliar artists, like "der Hundertwasser". The notion of a maze inside one's head is something that could be developed even further, in that the two-dimensional slice of a brain, in CAT Scan or MRI form, resembles a maze structure, which only can be navigated by moving into the third dimension, into the full range of convolutions of the brain. It is not clear to what extent the mandalas represent mazes at all. A link to the history section of the paper, with reference to the classical themes, would have held the sections together better. Hedge mazes as forms of artistic expression could receive more attention too.

The maze references in the World Wide Web could have been annotated more helpfully. Some of them are quite mathematical while others have little to add to the discussion. Singling out some of them for special consideration would have made the section more useful, especially if some of the games could have been linked to other sections of the final project.

The algorithm section, curiously enough, seemed less interactive than the earlier trio demonstrations that used hypercard stacks. Some visual illustration in the code sections would have been much more helpful in showing how to pair a simple maze up with a tree, and how to use the queues and stacks to make the various analyses. The in-class presentation made the comparison clearer, but it never had the force of the earlier demonstration. Some illustrations of weighted graphs could have motivated the Dijkstra method, and tied in better with the applications of maze algorithms to practical problems, as mentioned in the introduction.