Thank you for your responses, although I am not sure you are going to read this? I wasn't sure what you meant about not needing to read my comments because the questions that you had brought up were answered in the lecture time. That did happen sometimes of course, but most of the time there were far more items raised in the individual responses than I could have answered in class (and it would have seemed even more disorganized if I had tried.) In the previous versions of this course, students would hand in two copies of their work, one to be put on reserve so others could read it (though only a few took the trouble to do so with any regularity) and the other to be written on by me, sometimes with extended comments. This is the part of the interchange that is more public now, and I will be interested in reading the comments of your classmates on how they felt about it. Thank you for getting your response in in good time.
With respect to the final project, you made a good point about the possibility of linking your document to some of the related ones in other projects. It isn't clear how we can do this in the future, but if we have some techical sessions for everyone, as you suggested, that should alleviate the problem and allow for more communication linkages throughout. If some more linking had been possible at an intermediate stage in the final projects, perhaps it would have made it easier for people to single out separate subtopics for more intensive study, to avoid repetition and the appearance of summarizing things already covered.
Course Grade: Satisfactory. Please let me know if you would like a CPR.
Now for the general comment page on your group:
Commentary on the Extended Geometry Group
Your setup and your presentations were good, and you all showed effort in trying to arrange material for a broad audience. The subject itself is limitless of course, so you had to make choices. By and large they worked well, and it would be even better to see how electronic technology could enable you to create further linkages among your various presentations, and to those of other members of the class.
The history component will be important for any future development of this course, since it does seem to be a good subject for those planning to teach mathematics, at any level. It would be useful to have some linkages to particular parts of B3D or other works that treat dimensionality. I am curious about what parts of Manning's introduction were left out (other than the sections on non-Euclidean geometry). Abbreviating the biographical references from Smith's History of Mathematics is a good idea, since the longer sources contain much material not relevant to the subject at hand. This is true as well for the general mathematical archives at St. Andrew's in Scotland, one of the most popular of the biographical sources. In a sense you want to include the background most pertinent to the study of dimensions, shortening or omitting other aspects. It would be good to link to some primary sources as well, for example excerpts from Sylvester's inaugural lecture where he raises questions about the conceivability of higher dimensions (cf. the book on Victorian mathematics by Joan Richards).
The more impressionistic view of history and literature and art suffered by staying too close to material already contained in B3D although the links to some of the celebrity pages, like Madeleine L'Engle and Salvator Dali, were welcome additions.
As mentioned in class, in the lists of geometric properties, it would be helpful to highlight the sections where the postulate of the existence of a space of four dimensions changes the statements about lower dimensions, or recasts them. It might even be good to come up with some n-dimensional statements, for example to state that a flat space of dimension k through the origin will intersect a flat space of dimension m in a space of dimension at least m+k-n, so for example two planes through the origin in three-space meet at least in a line, but in four-space, they might meet just in a point.
In the section on parallelism, it is important to illustrate the various concepts pictorially as well as analytically. It should be possible to give equations for two 2-planes that are semi-parallel for example, as well as to use diagrams such as the ones presented for which the darkness of the shading indicated the position in the space perpendicular to the 3-space containing the viewer. The drawings were quite effective, although it would be better if the viewer had the option of making individual panels larger. It is not so easy to read the words on the console screen, and it was difficult to make anything out on the image projected to the screen in the auditorium.
The short story about the substitute teacher was very nicely presented, reminiscent of the movement of objects that we are now familiar with from watching motion of four-dimensional objects on the screen. "Substitute" has an alternate meaning of "ersatz" or "artificial", which underlines the reduction of the human form to a polyhedron. It might be nice to see some geometric forms on the side of the page undergoing the same deformations as the figure of the substitute teacher, if such illustrations are not there already. That could help tie the concepts together and reinforce what had been presented in the class.