A link to writting help from the PSU peer tutoring center.

An article about writing class papers that use mathematics.

An example I've written to show one possible approach to this assignment. The example discusses how we compare trees, and particularly how we differentiate conifers from other kinds of trees.

My first college mathematics paper. It's older than the way-back machine itself ;) Clearly, you should learn from my mistakes.

In lab 1, one of the ideas raise was the importance of color in distinguishing objects. Our understanding of color itself has followed a long and winding path. But one of of the great steps forward was a study by the mathematician and experimentalist Isaac Newton describing how white light could be broken into a spectrum of colors and then reassembled. (Newton was a bit crazy, though. He experimented on his own eyes!)

Look around the web for articles by Ian Stewart or Martin Gardener. They are two of the most successful modern expositors of mathematics, and examples of their writting will give you some ideas about what "good" means for mathematical writting. For instance, Double Bouble, Toil, and Trouble.

Here's a thing we are trying to avoid. For background, Sheila Bair was the former head of the FDIC. She was very powerful, and involved in some very important decision relating to the financial crisis. Recently one reporter said the following about her. "Interviewing her could be an exercise in frustration. She was only too happy to talk about capital requirements, say, but even off the record she wouldn't tread where most journalists, myself included, wanted her to go -- into the boardrooms at Treasury and the Fed where decisions were hashed out. In 2009, The New Yorker published a short profile of her in which she refused to be drawn out about one of the many bureaucratic fights over too-big-to-fail. Her response was classic Bair: 'It's a very difficult task to try to balance all the different perspectives and come up with a package,' she said diplomatically, 'and every compromise is going to have people who are unhappy about various parts of it.' You can almost hear the author sighing." This reporter is a moron. Instead of trying to actually understand the problems at hand and figure out the right answers to America's financial problems, all he wants to do is gossip about non-sensical interpersonal conflict. Part of my hope in asking you to do this writing assignments is that you will gain some better idea of how to distinguish substance from nonsense. In math, we have a very clear idea of which is which.