Core Curriculum

Analytic Reasoning


In Dr. Panos Linos's Robot Programming course, students learn how to write computer programs using a small personal robot called "Scribbler," who can be programmed to detect light, avoid obstacles, play songs, take photos, and even make movies.  "Most students understand the importance of computing," Linos notes, "and realize that it is ubiquitous."  The hands-on and interactive nature of the course allows students to "learn by watching their programs in action performed by their personal robots." 

In Dr. Karen Holmes's Win, Lose, or Draw, students play games-literally.  Building their understanding and skills of critical analysis and reasoning, Holmes helps students see the real-life ramifications of behaviors, based on their work in the mathematics of probability.  It is a course, Holmes notes, that "has lasting effects on students," since they "get better at logically thinking problems through by working logic puzzles, including problems on graduate entrance exams for law or graduate school."  Plus, Holmes notes, once they complete the course, "students can do sudokus for the rest of their lives."

This commitment to active student engagement is also evident in Lacey Echol's Statistically Speaking, a course designed to help students see "how prevalent statistics is in their world" and in their major field of study.  "Students work with real data from Indiana Youth Institute (IYI)," a non-profit organization that studies and works with young people in Indiana, Echols explains, "Butler students perform statistical analysis with the variables of interest from the organization and we hope that our analyses will help them see issues and trends in our state."

Course Structure: A menu of three-hour courses to be taken in the first or second year.

Learning Objectives:

  • To develop capacities for quantitative and analytic reasoning.
  • To understand the centrality of these capacities to the natural and social sciences.
  • To recognize the applications of such capacities to matters of personal and public life.

Some examples of Analytical Reasoning courses currently being taught include:

Codes & Secret Messages
Codes & Secret Messages: How can sensitive information such as credit card numbers or military strategy be exchanged between two people without being intercepted by a third party? Are there ways to detect and correct errors resulting from a mistyped identification number or a scratched CD? Can information be exchanged securely among multiple individuals without anyone revealing his or her own decryption scheme? In this course, students will investigate various strategies for storing and transmitting information accurately, efficiently, and securely. Students will design several types of ciphers for sending secret messages, construct various error detecting and error-correcting codes, and implement secure public-key cryptosystems for exchanging messages with classmates. As these issues are explored, students will discover the need for mathematical notions such as modular arithmetic, permutations and combinations, probability and statistics, vectors and matrices, and formal logic.

Win, Lose or Draw
Win, Lose or Draw: Why do we play games? Whatever the reason, games are a big piece of life. The world has played games for a long, long time- every time period, every culture. We will study games and gambling in our culture as well as those in other cultures. To better understand games, the students will study probability theory and its application to gaming. Applications include casino games, lotteries, racing, wagering systems, as well as other games. Some analytical tools that will arise during the course are counting methods, expected value, trees, gambler's ruin, and distributions.

Robot Programming
This introductory programming course features personal robots that can move, draw, and take digital pictures. Robot behaviors are programmed and controlled remotely using a high-level language such as Python from a desktop or laptop computer. Topics include conditional execution, repetition, defining functions, and using arrays.





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Core Curriculum

Jordan Hall RM 209
Administrative Specialist:
Laura Cobb
(317) 940-9480