May 20, 2020
Niagara County Community College Mathematics Professor Jerry Truesdell has published a new textbook entitled, “The Mathematics of Virus Spread for Beginners.” This 12-chapter, the 100-page book uses pre-calculus fundamentals to illustrate models for virus spread, including the Susceptible, Infected, and Recovered (SIR) model. When classes at NCCC went virtual during the spring 2020 semester, the book was created to cover the last five units in his pre-calculus course. Truesdell shares, “We do a section on modeling with exponential functions, so I developed this as a substitute during the pandemic.”
In addition to the book being used in Truesdell’s classes, it is also being taught in an NCCC College Acceleration Program (CAP) course by Brother Joseph Wilkowski, Ph.D., at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute. CAP is a cooperative agreement of the State University of New York (SUNY) colleges and high schools. The program allows high school students to take college courses for both high school and college credit. Truesdell made copies of his book available for free for participating CAP partnerships. Wilkowski describes the book as, “A well-designed study of how an epidemiological model is created. Starting with the simple exponential model, the book progresses through more complicated, yet realistic ones and eventually develops a model that is surprisingly accurate. It is an excellent application of pre-calculus to the real world.”
With the hope that students will learn more than pre-calculus theorems from his book, Truesdell also wants to inspire real-life application. He explains, “Students rarely get to do modeling with any degree of sophistication right out of high school.” Within the book, Truesdell breaks down advanced mathematical language and pairs his simplified version with the most culturally relevant topic of 2020: the pandemic. In addition to teaching his students the formulas needed to read and create these virus-related models and graphs, students are simultaneously learning scientific and epidemiological terms.
Along with other published and award-winning instructors, Truesdell is part of the faculty body bringing excellence in education to students at Niagara County Community College. Truesdell’s textbook, “The Mathematics of Virus Spread for Beginners” is expected to be available for purchase by early June through Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com.