September 12, 2007

The CMJ Hit Parade

Among the three mathematics journals published by the Mathematical Association of America, The College Mathematics Journal (CMJ) has the shortest history. It started in 1970 as The Two-Year College Mathematics Journal, published by Prindle, Weber & Schmidt in collaboration with the MAA. Issues initially appeared twice a year. As the title suggests, its focus was on the teaching of mathematics in two-year colleges. It was meant to be a forum for mathematicians interested in the special curricular and pedagogical challenges presented by such institutions.

In 1984, the publication became The College Mathematics Journal, published five times per year. Instead of focusing solely on the concerns of two-year colleges, the renamed journal was to serve all who were interested in the earlier years of college-level mathematics, especially the first two years. Editors looked for lively articles to enrich instruction and enhance classroom learning. Articles highlighted history, people, philosophy, problem-solving, applications, and more. And there was room for proofs without words, poetry, quotations, cartoons, and other such items.

All CMJ issues, as long as they are more than three years old, are now available on the Web through the JSTOR archive, a database to which many college libraries and other institutions subscribe.

Use of the JSTOR archive has been increasing steadily over the years since CMJ first became available in this form in 2002, and it's now possible to see which of its hundreds of articles have been particularly appealing or useful. Here are the fifteen most frequently viewed articles to date:
  1. "Learning Mathematics Through Writing: Some Guidelines" by J.J. Price. November 1989, 20:393-401.
  2. "Misconceptions about the Golden Ratio" by George Markowsky. January 1992, 23:2-19.
  3. "The History of the Calculus" by Carl B. Boyer. Spring 1970, 1:60-86.
  4. "Isaac Newton: Man, Myth, and Mathematics" by V. Frederick Rickey. November 1987, 18:362-389.
  5. "Studying Students Studying Calculus: A Look at the Lives of Minority Mathematics Students in College" by Uri Treisman. November 1992, 23:362-372.
  6. "Math Anxiety: Some Suggested Causes and Cures: Part 1" by Peter Hilton. June 1980, 11:174-188.
  7. "Evolution of the Function Concept: A Brief Survey" by Israel Kleiner. September 1989, 20:282-300.
  8. "The Fractal Geometry of Mandelbrot" by Anthony Barcellos. March 1984, 15:98-114.
  9. "Cryptology: From Caesar Ciphers to Public-Key Cryptosystems" by Dennis Luciano and Gordon Prichett. January 1987, 18:2-17.
  10. "Collegiate Mathematics Education Research: What Would That Be Like?" by Annie Selden and John Selden. November 1993, 24:431-445.
  11. "The Volume and Centroid of the Step Pyramid of Zoser" by Anthony Lo Bello. September 1991, 22:318-322.
  12. "Women Mathematicians" by Debra Charpentier. March 1977, 8:73-79.
  13. "The Growing Importance of Linear Algebra in Undergraduate Mathematics" by Alan Tucker. January 1993, 24:3-9.
  14. "Pascal's Triangle" by Karl J. Smith. Winter 1973, 4:1-13.
  15. "The Derivative of Arctan x" by Norman Schaumberger. September 1982, 13:274-276.

I was very pleased to see one of my favorite articles on the list: George Markowsky's debunking of various myths commonly associated with the golden ratio. Like the list of top articles for Mathematics Magazine, the CMJ list also suggests a strong interest in history. Authors Israel Kleiner and Carl B. Boyer have articles on both lists. Boyer's account of the history of calculus, published in the first issue of The Two-Year College Mathematics Journal, is a reprint of an article that originally appeared in 1969 in Historical Topics for the Classroom (Thirty-First Yearbook of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics).

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