Mathematical Communication is a developing collection of resources for engaging students in writing and speaking about mathematics, whether for the purpose of learning mathematics or of learning to communicate as mathematicians.

Physical Applied Mathematics–Pedro Reis

The aim of this undergraduate seminar at M.I.T. is to expose students with an interest in the modeling of physical systems to recent developments in the literature. Topics will include, but are not restricted to, fluid mechanics, elasticity, fluid-structure interactions, soft matter physics and applications to biological systems. The backbone of the course will be to gain acquaintance with the process  of scientific production, namely: reading of recent literature, oral presentation of material, writing of a journal-like paper and refereeing of other’s work.


Each student will give 4 presentations throughout the semester, with increasing length and depth of coverage:

a) Presentation 1: Sound bite (5min) — Summary of proposed topic of study,

b) Presentation 2 (30 min + 5 min Q&A),

c) Presentation 3 (30 min + 5 min Q&A),

d) Presentation 4 (50min + 10 min Q&A) — Final Seminar.

A topic proposal paper (1 page) and a bibliography list (minimum 15 references) will be DUE ON Thursday, September 24th.

A first paper (4 pages, double-column), covering topic of choice will be DUE ON October 29th. Physical Review Letters journal format.

A final paper (10 pages, double-column), covering the material of all in-class presentations will be DUE ON December 10th. Physical Review E journal format.

Papers will be typeset in LaTeX  and templates will be provided. Further guidelines will be given in class.


10% : Presentation 2 (30min);

15% : Presentation 3 (30min);

25% : Presentation 4 (50min): Final Seminar;

10% : Summary-feedback sheets after each presentation;

10% : Class participation;

10% : First paper (due October 29th);

20% : Final paper (due December 10th).


There is no required text for the course. Papers of interest will be distributed as the class proceeds and posted in the Materials and Links pages.


There are three communication workshops during the term:

  • Presentation workshop: Critique a practice presentation by the instructor and generate a list of criteria of an effective presentation.
  • Writing workshop: Read two drafts of a paper by the instructor, answering questions about the drafts. During the workshop we discuss the drafts and various topics of math writing, including connectivity.
  • Peer critique workshop: Read a peer’s draft before the workshop; the purpose of the workshop is to provide feedback on the writing.

Materials for this course are available at the lower-left corner of this page, under the head “Related Media Folders.”

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