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Experimental Mathematics Lab: A research experience for students

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Published on Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Giving students a real research experience and a very different learning environment from very early on in their studies -- that is the aim of the Experimental Mathematics Lab in the Department of Mathematics.

The Experimental Mathematics Lab (EML) was founded in 2014 and has been growing ever since. It provides projects for small groups of students of the Bachelor in Mathematics (from 2nd semester) and the Master in Mathematics, which are carried out under the supervision of a research mathematician. 

Mathematics is an old subject. But now we have all kinds of tools that were not accessible to students 50 years ago, like coding, or even 10 years ago, like 3d printing. This has led to a whole new way of doing mathematics. 

The EML projects give students the chance to discover mathematics, the joy of doing mathematics, as well as the experience of group work. On the one hand, they are also given the freedom to follow their own ideas, all the while receiving regular guidance and help for all their project works. 

All projects have a starting idea, but the way the idea is developed depends a lot on the students. They can and should be creative and often come up with original ideas. The projects can involve computer experimentation, coding, visualisation, but also learning new mathematics. 

Mainly, students discover their own versions of known things. In some cases, however, the results are truly original and lead to scientific publications. 

These projects contribute to making our students become independently thinking mathematicians. This makes the EML very different from all other courses the students follow and a truly special experience. 

Contact: Pieter Belmans, Gabor Wiese

Discover more about EML in this video: