Associate Professor Lew Ludwig and his son loaded more than 45 pumpkins in their station wagon last Wednesday and hauled them onto campus. The next day, Ludwig distributed them to math students who were ready to start carving.
It was all part of the department’s annual pumpkin carving contest, in which students team up and create jack-o-lanterns with themes rooted in math or computer science in hopes of winning a $10 Chipotle gift card.
A week later, the second floor of Olin was a pumpkin haven, awaiting judgment by the faculty. Ordinary pumpkins took on a slew of new personalities including an “Emot-O’-Lantern” that looked kind of like this ; -); a formula—√-1<3π—which roughly translates into “I love (pumpkin) pie”; tributes to Java, Apple, and Steve Jobs himself; and a cannibalistic pumpkin looking for a meal out of his smaller brethren.
That last one came with an explanation from its creators: “These pumpkins are displaying the cruel reality of the relations between cardinalities in the number world.” We’re not sure about cardinalities when it comes to pumpkins or numbers, but we do know a creative group of students when we see them.
In the end, one pumpkin had to be declared the winner, and this year that honor went to a gourd titled “Hello World,” submitted by Jiacheng Liu ’15, Shuwei Zhang ’15, and Lingbo Li ’15.
To the Emot-O’-Lantern, we say: smile on.