Monday, January 25, 2016

Elementary Abstract Algebra: Examples and Applications

Elementary Abstract Algebra: Examples and Applications is a new open-source abstract algebra text by a number of contributors: Justin Hill, Chris Thron (eds), Thomas Judson, Dave Witte Morris, Joy Morris, A. J. Hildebrand, Holly Webb, Johnny Watts and David Weathers. 

According to editor Chris Thron:
"The treatment is far more elementary than any other book on abstract algebra that we've seen. The text is designed for students who are planning to become secondary-school teachers. We particularly emphasize material that has relevance to high-school math, as well as practical applications."
The link above will lead to both on-line (html) and pdf versions of the text.  Print-on-demand copies are available through Lulu.  There is also a series of supporting YouTube videos.

If you have used the text in its current form, please consider writing a review for the MAA Reviews website.  The previous blog posting describes best practices for doing so.

As a follow up to this blog posting, I hope to get some insight into how this large number of collaborators managed to work together.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

MAA Reviews of Open Source Texts

The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) maintains a book review site called MAA Reviews where volunteers review math-related texts.  The site hosts reviews of traditionally published texts, but also accepts reviews of open-source texts.  For example, Vic Reiner and I wrote a review of Guichard's Calculus text a while back.

The editor of MAA Reviews, Fernando GouvĂȘa, is quite supportive of including reviews of open-source texts on the site.  Though he lightly lamented in an email exchange with me:
We are definitely willing and interested. The difficulty is that
usually the only reward I can offer my reviewers is a free copy of the
book they are to review; as a result, it is always harder to find
reviewers for open-source texts.
For a while, I went on a one-man mission to recruit reviews of open-source texts for the site.  My self-imposed best practice was that the reviewer not be an author of the text and had to have taught at least one class using the text.  Here's a list of some of the MAA Reviews I "recruited" during this period:
I had a process where I'd identify a candidate text, usually through word of mouth.  Then I'd reach out to the author(s) and see if they knew of someone using the text that I could solicit a review from.  Then I'd reach out to the recommended reviewer and solicit the review for MAA Reviews.

After a while, other things made claims on my time, leaving me less active in this pursuit.  However, this is a good way to get open-source texts some exposure.  Further, a favorable review in MAA Reviews might help the author(s) get some credit for their work at their home institutions.