Mathematical Models, Fall 2019
Letters to students of Modeling

Dear Future Math 245 Student,

Let me begin by saying, you will love this class. You may not be very fond of computer science but you will enjoy this class. Do not worry if your computer skills are not up to par, this course is coding beginner friendly. You will enjoy this class because you will be able to model real life issues through computer simulations. This could be anything from determining how much money should be spent on immunization marketing for illness prevention, to saving beehives, or even keeping your protein shake cool for a workout. Once you learn the basics, the choices are endless. This class will allow you to explore topics you are genuinely interested in and let your creativity flow.

One thing I wish I knew at the beginning of this course is that practice is extremely important. You will not learn how to code by simply reading the textbook. You must be willing to test out the methods in the notebook and see what actually works. To make the most out of this class it requires, practice, practice, and more practice. Also take advantage of office hours. The professor is here to help you with any questions you may have and trust me, someone else in the class has the same question you do. There are no stupid questions in this class, be open to help from your professor and other classmates.

If you are a math major, like myself, you are probably are obsessed with getting things right. In this course, it is okay if your model does not do what you expect. It is also okay if the model does not work. Everything you do is a learning process and you should not see it as failure. It may take some time to get used to things not working, but keep pushing.

P.S. never erase your code, it may just need a little fix.

Math 245 is a really enjoyable class. This is truly one of those classes that what you put in is how much you get out of it. If you do the homework and do the online coding exercises you will learn a lot of real life applicable applications. If you do not have a coding background the beginning might be a little more difficult, but it is definitely manageable, especially since Professor Hanusa is always available to help. You can always reach out to him and he will gladly help you.

One thing that you should not expect is always being right. Sometimes your models do not work the way you thought they would. That is okay. In the real world things don’t always happen the way you think they will. That is what can happen in your python simulation.

This class may be a little more difficult because it is not your average math class. You will be exploring how to work in groups, discuss different ideas, present your findings in projects. This is real life experience. If you go into a math field you will definitely have to do this in the future and this is the first time that I was asked to do this. It may be out of your comfort zone in the beginning but with time you will get better at it. It is better to practice presenting and working in teams in school with peers than be thrown into it for the first time at a job. This class is will be a lot of fun! Enjoy and take advantage of getting advice from Professor Hanusa!

Dear Future Students of Math 245,

You are now the world of math modeling. Be open minded, this subject is really cool. As someone who came in with barely any coding experience, I can tell you that this is possible. While it takes some getting used to, you will totally be able to realize your mistakes with some practice. Somethings I personally wished I knew before the beginning of this semester is what the course would entail. I had a different idea of what the content of the course would be, more thinking along the lines of making a model to represent a mathematical theorem. However, I was greatly surprised to find out we were going to use Python to make models by coding.

In this class, you should expect to learn coding and syntax. I recommend that you all make a glossary with the format of each kind of code. It helps a lot when you’re making your own models for the projects. Syntax gave me a lot of errors so be careful and be sure to read the textbook for help. Do the homework and you will never be behind. Most importantly, do not forget to ask questions! The more you participate the more things can be explained to you. Also, go to office hours because that’s where I think things really clicked for me.

Dear Future Math 245 Students,

A little piece of advice to you. Practice, practice, practice. Don't stop messing around with code, even if you don't get it right the first time or ever. The most important thing to remember is that not every model is perfect and it is okay to admit that. Stay organized. The coding can become a little confusing at times, but when you have everything neat and in-order, you can see a lot more clearly. Be open minded. The content of the class is really cool and I'm glad I gave it a chance instead of just brushing it off as another computer science class (I'm a math education major).

It would be helpful in this class to follow along with the textbook, do all the homework's, and work on all the jupyter notebooks available to you. Also, maybe find a glossary of all the terminology used in the code. I had a lot of trouble figuring out why I was getting the error messages I was. And if you're ever in need, just ask for help! Professor Hanusa cares about all of his students and is willing to help everyone. In this class, practice isn't prefect like many say. Instead, practice means progress.

Dear future Math 245 students,

I am writing to you to give you a general idea about Math 245. First of all, if you are worried about not doing well in this class, do not panic. I've never learned any sort of coding before taking this class, and I am honestly not a "computer person" either, but with the steady pace of learning the basics of Python at the beginning of the semester, I quickly got the hang of it.

There really weren't many things that I wish I knew at the beginning of the semester that I do know now. Though, I would advise that you strictly follow Professor Hanusa's timeline for the completion of the tasks for the projects because it keeps you on track. I would also advise that you ask any questions you have while learning the basics of Python because the material throughout the semester builds on each other. When it comes to coding, there are no "stupid questions" because every small detail matters when creating code.

The first project, admittedly, was a bit tough because I was still trying to get used to coding. However, the projects are always done with 2 or 3 people in the group, so having other people to work with definitely benefited us all because we were able to help and learn from each other. I truly think that without working with my group members, creating the models would be even more difficult. Project 3 utilized first-order equations for the models. It seemed like it would be more difficult to implement, but after the coding experience for Project 2, it wasn't as hard as I thought. I also enjoyed project 3 more than the others because I performed a hands-on experiment with my partner to collect data.

Good luck and work hard!

This is a very interactive class. You work in groups to approach questions in various ways. You should expect to learn how to address real world problems by properly posing questions, making assumptions, understanding key mathematical concepts, and turning ideas into code. You should expect to learn how to read and write basic code in python, and the various ways we model real-world problems in computer code. The class is engaging and very useful, especially if you plan working in mathematical fields. Keep up with the material as it is presented and stay up to date with the exercises. You should also expect to present your findings in a useful way. The key take away from this class is that this is a course on understanding how to think of a model, create the model, and present the model's finding; not a course based on the fundamental understanding the mathematical concepts behind the models.

From my own experience, I was not prepared to work in groups but it proved useful as it provided new ways to pose and address problems. I was very familiar with the concepts of math that were utilized but they are only secondary to understanding how to create models of systems. I came in with no knowledge of how to code. This class more than adequately provided the tools and understanding necessary to be able to create your own code. I learned that coding is more flexible than it appears and it is the creative approach to solving problems that provides the rigidity that i came in expecting from this course. I also came in not expecting to present my findings but it proved valuable in learning to present key pieces of information and the important aspects behind the making of a model. The key component of our projects is understanding what makes some models better than others and how to critique our own models even after we get results.

Professor Hanusa is very friendly, helpful, and can tell that he cares about the students. I feel he is one of the best professors that I have so far, not only because that he does not give exams but he is very approachable and willing to help you in your project in the last minutes (I did not ask for help, but I saw many of my classmates did it). If I am going to retake this class, I wish I will pay more attention to the lecture and participate more in the class.

I have a few suggestions: First, try to learn python and don't give up so easily because it is not as hard as it looks. Second, pay attention to basic skills / code in python, you will find it useful when you write your project. Third, do your homework and don't copy the work from your classmates because it will not help you in the future, especially it will be related to the future project. Finally, read the textbook before the class so you will understand the topic better.

Mathematical modeling is definitely one of the more interesting math classes I have taken at Queens College. We as students get used to the professor speaking about the material for 95% of the class and then taking a few exams. This class allows you to explore pretty much whatever you’re interested in. Professor Hanusa is also right there with you helping you refine your project and assisting with just about anything along the way. There is coding involved but I think most students will be able to handle it.

As for suggestions, I would say get started thinking about your projects early. I personally was thrown off by the amount of freedom we had in this class and I found myself jumping around picking different project topics. I would say I am a person who has a lot of interests so it was hard for me to pick one and stick to it. If I received this advice before taking the class, I could’ve thought about a few ideas earlier just to get the ball rolling. I would also say stay up to date with the homework and readings. There isn’t much homework but in class, Professor will build on the homework and you will also have the opportunity to ask about things that weren't clear. Overall, I’d definitely recommend this class to friends just be prepared for the freedom!

Dear Future Students,

I came into this class being a perfectionist. I used to get very discouraged when something did not go the way I expected it to. In this class, we did a lot of projects. For the first group, we choose our partners. For the second group, our partners was chosen for us, but with our preference in consideration. With these two projects, I believe I struggled a lot because I wanted our projects to work. Again, I would get very discouraged when something does not go the way I expect it to; so when our models did not work, I felt very discouraged. However, Professor Hanusa constantly reassured the class that it is okay if the models did not work. Not everything is going to work the way we want it to. Everyone would always tell you it is okay to make mistakes, however, with me, even if I make a mistake, I feel bad. In this class, if I make a mistake, I feel like the mistake was fine. I did not feel dumb.

If anyone takes this class, I just want them to know that this class is all about progress. It is okay to be mistakes as long as you are trying. Professor Hanusa’s office is always open and is always, ALWAYS willing to help. Although for the second project, our group was chosen and sometimes we may not get the people that we want, I believe Professor Hanusa paired up the groups really well. For this class, ask questions, participate, and just try. This is the main thing I love about this class, as long as I try my best, I won’t fail.

To start off with, Math Modeling is a very interesting class. We get to see how diseases, populations and other life activities can be coded in Python. At the beginning of the semester I wish I would have known that it was going to be mostly coding. I thought the class was going to be more of a lecture where we learn about math applications in the real world. I did not expect to be learning about Python and actually modeling real life situations in a computer program.

To be honest, this class is difficult if you are not very good at coding. Expect to read a lot of pages in the textbook to better your understanding of coding. Be sure to ask questions in the daily question; this will help Professor Hanusa know what your problems are and what he needs to go over I class to help you better understand. Also, take advantage of Professor Hanusa’s office hours. He is very helpful with the projects that we have to complete for his class (also his office is very cool!).

Good luck in your semester and in his class!

Dear future students,

When I first registered this class, I actually didn't know this class is about programming. Therefore, the first day of class I was kind of nervous because I know nothing about the programming. However, as the class goes along, I feel like it was not as bad as what I thought it would be. At the end of the semester when I think back, I think it would be much easier for me if I read the book after the class when I get home. Because I think it will help me to strengthen the memory of the content that the professor talks about during the class.

This class is about modeling and simulation in python. Don't worry if you have never programmed before, this class suitable for the beginner. The book is very easy to interpret and during the class, professor Hanusa also provides a very clear explanation for each part. It is very important that you ask help or go to professor's office hour when you feel like kind of lost or you don't understand some of the content in the class. And also, for the homework, it is better to work with someone in the class than you do the homework yourself because when you work with other people, you will learn a different perspective on one thing; also, it helps a lot when you don't know how to solve some of the problems. During the semesters, you guys will have to complete two group projects. They are very interesting and during the process, you will also learn a lot of stuff from your partner.

Enjoy the class and good luck!