Michael Sheard | Professor, Chair
Office: 316 Ohlendorf | Phone: (901) 843-3722 | Email: sheardm@rhodes.edu

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Teaching  Over the years, I have been very much a utility fielder in my teaching assignments, taking on whatever courses my department most needs me to teach. This comes less from a sense of duty than from personal preference: I simply find that my teaching remains freshest and most satisfying when there is variety in the challenges I face from semester to semester. As a result, I have taught most of the courses in a typical undergraduate mathematics curriculum: all of calculus, linear algebra, introductory statistics, differential equations, real analysis, group theory and ring theory, a “bridge to higher math” course, and several specialty courses. I have also frequently taught several courses in computer science, where I enjoy teaching from a different perspective. I sometimes compare teaching to climbing a mountain: No matter how many times you climb the same mountain, the climb itself is always demanding. But the view from the top is always rewarding.

Research  My mathematical training is in mathematical logic and set theory. Since the mid-1980s, most of my work has focused on the subject of truth predicates, which sits squarely on the border of mathematics and philosophy. On the one hand, this is a rich area for application of the techniques of mathematical logic, some of which can be quite technical. On the other hand, there is extensive interest among some philosophers in the application of these ideas to some central philosophical questions. I have also co-authored several papers in a niche area of graph theory--the study of the wonderful family of graphs that are uniquely Hamiltonian-connected from a vertex. Finally, I enjoy playing around with quirky mathematical questions which arise from teaching, such as finding obscure alternative methods to compute integrals. 

Outside the classroom  Depending on the season, I like to spend my time canoeing, cross-country skiing, reading detective novels, cooking, or traveling, to name just a few of the activities that capture my enthusiasm from time to time. I am a political junkie, and like most mathematicians, I love both music and mountains. For the past twenty years, though, the diversion that has most absorbed my spare time has been birding. On a warm spring or autumn day--or even when it’s 20 degrees below zero in the middle of winter--there are few more rewarding family activities than going out just to see what mix of familiar and unexpected bird life may show up today.

 


Education

B.A.,  Mathematics, Yale University, 1976.
M.A., Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley, 1978.
Ph.D., Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley, 1982.


Courses

Mathematics 111 - Introduction to Statistics
Mathematics 115 - Applied Calculus
Mathematics 121 - Calculus I
Mathematics 122 - Calculus II
Mathematics 251 - Differential Equations
Computer Science 172 - Discrete Math
Computer Science 350 - Theory of Computation