New Advanced Math Course to Inspire Students to Think About Math Differently

Each year at PCD, it's not uncommon for a handful of ambitious students to complete the full math curriculum. While many continue to the traditional college math sequence (hello multivariable calculus), three seniors have opted to learn a different advanced math subject – cryptography. Rarely offered in high school, the new class was adopted from a Brown University course and is led by PCD Math Teacher Sarah Deitch.

"Our students have pushed themselves and worked very hard, why not reward them with a new and interesting math course," says Deitch. "Cryptography is applicable, accessible, and engaging, it provides our students a broad introduction to the many different fields of upper level math while introducing them to the academic rigor of a college course."

By studying cryptography, the three seniors - Matthew Beretta, Jeffrey Gao, and Henry Schaefer – are learning the mathematical concepts for encoding and decoding information and will review a selection of historical and modern encryption techniques. The group recently visited the International Museum of World War II as part of their lesson on Alan Turing who cracked codes produced by the German military.

"The material is tough but fun to work through," says Beretta who wants to study applied mathematics in college. "At PCD, I've been able to take several college-level math courses and it's in these classes where a greater level of thought is required. Writing a complicated proof using linear algebra or cracking Enigma is more intense than taking a derivative in calculus and I find that it's as exciting as it is demanding."

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