Two recent graduates have combined their love of sports and math into research that earned them invitations to present their work at MathFest, the annual summer meeting of the Mathematical Association of America, in Tampa, Florida.
Baseball fan Christopher Greve will present a model he created to predict whether a pitch will result in a swing and miss by the batter. To create the model, he tested every pitch that MLB pitchers throw. Based on the speed of the pitch, speed differentials from other pitches, and the amount of pitch movement, the model predicts the rate at which pitches cause batters to swing and miss.
Greve was able to predict results for sliders, cutters, sinkers, and changeups with cutters being the most impactful. He created an "expected whiff percentage" for cutters and predicted that the top two pitchers in this category would be Framber Valdez of the Houston Astros and Sonny Gray of the Minnesota Twins. As of June 12, both hurlers had ERAs under 2.4 and more than nine strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
Oliver DiDonato, who is a black belt in karate, combined interests in math and martial arts to create a predictive model for Shotokan karate matches, employing data collected from dozens of contests. The final model predicted match outcomes with nearly 92 percent accuracy, using only the skills of punches and counterattacks as predictive elements.
Professor Ryan Savitz, who holds a PhD in mathematics, worked with both students on their projects and assisted with the submissions to MathFest, which is scheduled for August 2-5.
A third Neumann student, Elizabeth Shire, will present a paper about successful practices for teaching mathematics at the secondary school level.
The Mathematical Association of America, established in 1915, is the largest professional society that focuses on mathematics at the undergraduate level. Members include university, college, and high school teachers; graduate and undergraduate students; pure and applied mathematicians; computer scientists; statisticians; and many others in academia, government, business, and industry.
According to Savitz, “MathFest is, arguably, the most prestigious math conference in the country.”