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Mathematical Sciences

Math meets Art

April 29, 2011

Century High School, Hillsboro, Oregon

Lauren Taylor, an art teacher at Century High School in Hillsboro, OR, contacted our department for help with a class project. She was building a stringed musical instrument. The strings connected pegs on a board. Each peg represented a student in the senior class, with strings connecting them to their two closest friends. The problem: how to arrange the pegs to minimize the number of crossed strings? Lewis & Clark students in Peter Drake’s Artificial Intelligence course applied two techniques, genetic algorithms and hill climbing, to figure out how to arrange the pegs. Ms. Taylor’s class then built the instrument, shown (with high school students Mary, Linda, and Dorothy Her) at right.