MAA Writing Awards
The World's Biggest Taco
Award: George Pólya
Year of Award: 1999
Publication Information: The College Mathematics Journal, Vol. 29, No. 1, (1998), pp. 2-12
Summary: Using a combination of mathematical savvy and a computer algebra system, calculus students can find a reasonable approximation of the largest possible volume of a taco for a given tortilla.
About the Authors: (from The College Mathematics Journal, Vol. 29, No. 1, (1998))
David Bleecker earned a Ph.D. at U.C. Berkeley with the gracious guidance of S.S. Chern and the inspiration of Blaine Lawson’s differential geometry courses. Dick Gould coached him as an undergraduate on the Stanford tennis team, while Robert Osserman nurtured his interest in geometry. On the University of Hawaii’s faculty for 24 years, he has written articles about the application of geometry to physics and with his current tennis nemesis, George Csordas, recently finished a textbook, Basic PDEs.
Larry Wallen learned the beauty of mathematics from Everett Pitcher at Lehigh, from Witold Hurewicz at MIT (which generously gave him a doctorate), and mainly from Paul Halmos at lots of places. His research has been mostly in operator theory with forays into classical analysis and convexity. Extracurricular passions include natural history (birds, bugs, botany), basketball, badminton, and twentieth-century classical music.