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A remote tutoring system for algebra enhanced by Mathematica

K. Nakayama
T. Kanaya
Hitoshi Nishizawa
Organization: Toyota National College of Technology
Journal / Anthology

Innovation in Mathematics: Proceedings of the Second International Mathematica Symposium
Year: 1997
Page range: 361-368

A remote tutoring system of algebra, especially for the factorization of polynomials, is described. The system is aimed at improving the calculating ability of students aged between fifteen and seventeen in Kosen (Colleges of Technology in Japan), and serves each student as an effective training opportunity in the field of factorizing polynomials through the well-organized Kosen computer network. The system receives string data sent by the students, determines if the final expression is fully factorized, finds errors in intermediate expressions, and tells the students of the completeness of the factorization and positions of the errors in the given expressions, if they exist. The system consists of a WWW (World Wide Web) server that collaborates with the symbolic computational program Mathematica, both running on a Power Macintosh personal computer, and WWW browsers running on personal computers connected to the server through local area computer network. In this system, a custom function written in the Mathematica language evaluates the input data sent from the students. The function is called by the WWW server through a CGI (Common Gateway Interface) program. It has rules and methods for evaluating the mathematical expressions. With this system, students get more valuable information about their calculating process than from most CAI programs which request the students to fill in the blanks of the prepared expressions or request a selection from several candidates.