Cumberland Times-News


December 3, 2009

Professor motivates math students with technology


Demonstrations Wednesday evening proved Barnet’s experiment to be a success. It took the cluster computer 36 seconds to compute a complex math problem to the billionth degree, meaning it performed about 162 million operations per second. And that was using only four of its 28 processors.

“That’s not too great, actually,” Barnet said. “It’s good. It’s probably about double a typical desktop from four to five years ago. ... Hopefully I will be getting better. I’m pretty convinced it has a lot of potential, and if I add one or two more nodes it actually could do something very interesting from a graphical point of view.”

Barnet plans to use the cluster computer in the classroom with graphics and animations to demonstrate mathematical principles.

“You can compute something algebraically and get some kind of understanding, but if you can visualize it too, you can bet a better understanding of it,” Barnet said.

Fourteen-year-old Daniel Wojnar didn’t have trouble catching on to the concept of the cluster.

“He’s told me about it before, and I looked at it on the Web,” Wojnar said after Wednesday’s presentation. “It’s basically when you have a bunch of processors and running them all together and making this one do this chunk, this one do this chunk, et cetera.”

Former FSU math department instructor Roberta White said Barnet is known for his enthusiasm about technology.

“He does a lot of the interactive, computer graphics displays,” White said. “He’s always trying to bring the technology edge into the upper-level classes and motivate the students beyond just the mathematics involved.”

Contact Kristin Harty Barkley at

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