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Ken Takata

Associate Professor - Mathematics
Work space: St. Paul Main Campus > Drew Science Center > Drew Science Center DSC 123D

Ken Takata received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research interests concern problems in discrete mathematics, particularly regarding the enumeration and listing of structures from graph theory and combinatorics. More recent work has been on listing parse trees to investigate syntactic ambiguities arising in natural language. Possible applications may be in linguistics and literary studies. His teaching has included the programming courses (CSCI 1250/3150) and discrete math (Math 3440).

Professor Takata values each of his students' individualized perception of the curriculum. He tries his best to memorize every student's name within the first two weeks and encourages student to approach problems in their own way. Professor Takata believes that this allows his student to internalize the material and generate more questions. Many of his problems are open-ended and students are encouraged to work in groups in order to reach an answer. The use of such questions sparks students' interest and also prepares them for solving problems in everyday life.

"Consider a deck of cards with an ordering on the suits and also within the suits. We shuffle the cards repeatedly. Now we want a formal, deterministic process to put the cards back in order, and if we're ambitious, we'd like to do this efficiently (for example, using as few comparisons and swaps of 2 cards as possible). What is the best you can do? Can you do better than the students in the other group? How much space or memory does your procedure use? Can you scale this to handle many more than 52 cards? What about 1,000,000?"

- Ken Takata