Students Experience New Math Concepts with Professor Rukimbira


Samantha Gitlin

FIU math professor Philippe Rukimbira presents to students interested in math in the library on Feb. 17.

Samantha Gitlin, Copy Editor

On Feb. 17, the Math Department held an event after school with guest speaker Professor Philippe Rukimbira, who teaches mathematics and statistics at Florida International University.

The present focused on the concepts of divisibility and diophantine equations. Rukimbira taught students different concepts to help solve the equations, including the Euclidean Algorithm and greatest common divisor, using past lectures to create the presentation for students. The students who attended were part of Mu Alpha Theta, Math Club, and any math class. Math teachers also attend the lecture.

“When I reached out to the math department at FIU, Professor Rukimbira was the first one to  respond. He was extremely excited to come to Gulliver to meet our students,” said math teacher Yety Martin. “He is the second speaker in our series of mathematicians. The next one is scheduled for March 10.”

Rukimbira began the event with a lecture to the audience, talking about number theory and techniques to find solutions. He used the pattern of making a claim about each rule, and then proving it. For example, he spoke about how to use reminders to find if a large number is divisible by another number. He then made a claim about that topic and proved it with numbers and variables, showing the equations to use. 

Along the way, Rukimbira took questions from the audience. The students were engaged and participated throughout the entire presentation by solving examples of the current topic being presented.  

“It was a great opportunity to see a college professor formalize a simple concept, such as GCD [greatest common divisor] and LCM [least common multiple], with precise mathematical notations and formal proofs, something that math students will do frequently in college,” Martin said. 

Each example led into a new topic under divisibility which consisted of a rule to follow when solving the problems. These topics also led to new math vocabulary for the students to understand. The step by step explanations helped students visualize and verify the concepts learned.

“It was exciting to learn about new principles and concepts such as diophantine equations, which are often seen as linear equations in high school education,” said sophomore Neelesh Pandey. “I learned the proof of divisibility by a power of 2 or 5, where I got to understand how an expansion of the number in base 10 allowed for the creation of these rules of divisibility.”

At the end, the floor was open for students to ask questions.

“I really enjoyed listening to Mr. Rukimibira,” said sophomore Anya Gruener. “I thought it was very interesting and insightful.”

The presentation is part of a series of guest speakers of different backgrounds to show students about diversity and representation in the field of mathematics.