How Math is Improving Special Effects in Movies, Sports Teams
COLLEGEVILLE -- For most of us when a group of math majors start talking about solving math problems we lose interest pretty quickly. However, when the math they're discussing is being used to create the specials effects in the movies we love it suddenly becomes much more interesting.
Tim Chartier is a professor of mathematics and computer science at Davidson College in North Carolina. He'll be a guest speaker at St. John's University this weekend at the 39th annual Pi Mu Eplion Conference.
One of his talks is titled "Putting a Spring in Yoda's Step".
If you take Pixar, for example, they have a whole research wing which are computer scientists who are actually working to create the effects that we see. The same is true with Disney. So, for example, the big special effect that was created for Tangled was Rapunzel's hair. Whereas with Frozen the very new effect that made that movie possible was the way the snow was simulated.
Additionally, how are math geeks helping jocks step up their game? That is another one of the topics being discussed. On Saturday morning he'll be leading a discussion called "Math MATHness". He says he and his students have worked with the NFL prior to the draft.
We looked at the draft and we actually were not telling people who to draft, we were just predicting the likelihood that someone is still in the draft. So if you have two people you're looking at and you know when your next pick is, who is more likely to still be around by the time you have your next pick?
Chartier says they also created a website using algorithms to create brackets for the NCAA college basketball tournament, which beat over 90 percent of over eight million brackets submitted to ESPN's online bracket tournament.
When you're watching the NBA playoffs this weekend you probably won't be thinking about all the math that was used to create a fair contest. Chartier says he and his students were hired by the NBA front office to look at the referees.
So these is also analytics being done on the officials to try and keep things as fair as they can. The NBA puts a lot of energy into the officials so they can check the fairness and also see where someone might need to be trained to be better positioned to make good calls.
Chartier says he has also worked ESPN's "Sports Science" series.
He will be speaking at 8:30 p.m. Friday and again at 10:30 a.m. Sunday in the Pellegrene Auditorium.
The conference is open to anyone and geared toward college and high school students interested in math.