"Visual Mathematics and Web Design"

CS199 Research
Gavin Wu
Winter 1997
Supervisor: Dr. Allen Klinger

To develop a computer based system to support teaching basic mathematics to elementary school students; develop math-related visually-stimulating computer graphics and / or animation; the package produced is to appeal to youth, involve pointers to informative mathematical teaching techniques, web sites, and materials; and coordinate with learning assessment methodologies.

Implementation and Course Work:
The platform for the system was the World Wide Web. I worked with Dr. Klinger on a pre-existing web page located at: http://www.cs.ucla.edu/csd-lanai/fweb/cs190/ called the CS190 web site. Using a separate computer science account located at: http://www.cs.ucla.edu/~gavin, I experimented with the documents Dr. Klinger produced, and modified a few of them for aesthetic content. I also helped Dr. Klinger with some HTML document coding, and provided general assistance with the language. Other duties included scanning in multiple images onto the web and converting them to picture files that were readable on the web. Sometimes the manipulation of these files was necessary to eliminate stray marks, text, etc. Scanning sessions also involved taking pictures of multiple objects with a digital camera, and writing these picture (PICT) files onto a CD-ROM. Unfortunately, we could not get these files into a web-readable format.

   The CS190 web site turned into the "computer based system" specified in the purpose. There are several mathematical papers, concepts, problems, and puzzles within the overall structure of the site. In the beginning, the site was primarily text-based. There were some links to pictures (TIF files) of polyhedrons, platonic solids, and some figures, but nothing else. To attract more users, I felt the site needed to be more visually stimulating.
   Using Adobe Photoshop, I created a logo for the page, then attached it and a background to the HTML index document for the site. Using some separators and table structures within this document, I ordered the data and links into a more aesthetic fashion. Dr. Klinger built upon these improvements later on and added some images of his own as links, as well as several other table structures to create quite an impressive overall look (See Appendix A for logo and web site-color and background excluded due to postscript printing).
   I edited a few other documents in the same fashion, creating pages that were easier to read and understand. This portion of the project correlates to "developing the computer-based system." The main objective of my contributions was to make the site more appealing to younger generations. I felt that visual stimulation greatly influences interest, as I will explain in further detail in the section "Importance of Visuals."
   For the objective "to develop math-related visually-stimulating computer graphics and / or animation," I created several visuals and figures to supplement Dr. Klinger's work. These will be introduced and explained in the section "Importance of Visuals." I also wrote some C code that would perform Common Gateway Interface (CGI) operations, and allow the user to input on our page. I will elaborate on this part of the project in the section "The Common Gateway Interface."