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Brian P. Beaudrie and Barbara Boschmans

Three transformation activities are completed by eighth-grade students who do not have access to a computer but can access handheld technology. Three activity sheets are included.

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Younhee Lee, Qi Lu, and Woong Lim

Translation by a vector in the coordinate plane is first introduced in precalculus and connects to the basic theory of vector spaces in linear algebra. In this article, we explore the topic of collision detection in which the idea of a translation vector plays a significant role. Because collision detection has various applications in video games, virtual simulations, and robotics (Garcia-Alonso, Serrano, and Flaquer 1994; Rodrigue 2012), using it as a motivator in the study of translation vectors can be helpful. For example, students might be interested in the question, “How does the computer recognize when a player's character gets hit by a fireball?” Computer science provides a rich context for real-life applications of mathematics-programmers use mathematics for coding an algorithm in which the computer recognizes two objects nearing each other or colliding. The Minkowski difference, named after the nineteenth century German mathematician Hermann Minkowski, is used to solve collision detection problems (Ericson 2004). Applying the Minkowski difference to collision detection is based on translation vectors, and programmers use the algorithm as a method for detecting collision in video games.

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Stephen Phelps

Edited by Anna F. DeJarnette

A monthly set of problems targets a variety of ability levels.