Splash Biography



RACHEL LAWRENCE, Yale Applied Math and CS




Major: Applied Math / CS Theory

College/Employer: Yale University / UC Berkeley

Year of Graduation: 2016

Picture of Rachel Lawrence

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Splash administrator; chocolate enthusiast; organic machine for turning tea into theorems.



Past Classes

  (Clicking a class title will bring you to the course's section of the corresponding course catalog)

M2778: Animation Mathemation in Splash Spring 17 (Apr. 08, 2017)
Frozen. The Incredibles. Up. And...trigonometry? In this class, we'll explore the collision of two (not-so-)unlikely subjects: animated movies and good old fashioned geometry. With some help from the mathematicians at Pixar, we'll put familiar concepts to work in understanding how animators rely on mathematical ideas to create the movies we know and love.


A2780: Animation: Behind the Scenes! in Splash Spring 17 (Apr. 08, 2017)
Ever wondered how your favorite PIxar or Disney movies were made? Want to find out what animators mean when they talk about rendering, rigging, or simulation? Interested in what goes on at the intersection of art, storytelling, math, physics, and computer science? Join me for a whirlwind tour through the life of an animated movie!


M2367: The Election Game: Paradoxes of Democracy in Splash Fall 16 (Nov. 05, 2016)
Election day is around the corner! In a democratic election like the one this year, Americans use our votes to convert individual preferences into The Democratic Will of the People. Or do we? Our election system is not without some glaring flaws (think: third party candidates who take votes away from exactly those candidates who most agree them! Polarizing candidates with high disapproval rates!) But surely there must be a better system, right? Maybe not, if Arrow's Impossibility Theorem gets anything to say about it. In this class, we'll talk about the paradoxes inherent to democratic elections, including some startling mathematical results about how there might not even be such a thing as a perfectly fair election.


M1982: A Mad Tea Party in Splash Spring 16 (Apr. 02, 2016)
Join us for tea and cookies, accompanied by brain-bending logic puzzles inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll. We will draw heavily on puzzles from the book "Alice in Puzzle-Land" by Raymond Smullyan, with some of my own favorites thrown in. Bring your best brainteasers to share, and you'll leave with enough perplexing puzzles to frustrate you for the rest of the week!


A1983: Figure Drawing: A Crash Course in Splash Spring 16 (Apr. 02, 2016)
Stuck on stick figures? Baffled by bone structure? Perplexed by proportion? Have no fear! We'll learn a little bit of theory about anatomy and proportion, and then jump right in to drawing the human figure in all its gory detail.


X1821: Experiments in Cookie Science in Splash Fall 15 (Nov. 14, 2015)
The perfect chocolate chip cookie is a magical thing, but not all cookies are created equal. We'll find out exactly what goes into making a cookie on the molecular level, and then do some experimental baking to determine how slightly different recipes can lead to surprising results.


E1715: Hard Problems in Sprout Fall 15 (Oct. 03 - 17, 2015)
It sounds simple: some problems are easy to solve (like how to win Tic-Tac-Toe), and some are hard (like how to win Chess). But how can we measure just how hard a problem or a game really is? Could we build a computer to find quick solutions to even the hardest problems? And what is that P vs. NP thing everyone's talking about? We'll investigate these questions and more, taking a beginner's tour through the wild and weird world of computational complexity.


M1660: Points and Lines in Splash Summer 15 (Jul. 25 - 26, 2015)
Ever heard of graph theory? It's a branch of math that looks at how objects are related to each other by boiling them down to just a bunch of points and lines. Sound simple? Yet there's so much cool math going on beneath the surface! Join us to hear about how graphs are related to Facebook and ancient bridges, and maybe even prove a theorem or two!


X1557: Cheesin' in Splash Spring 15 (Apr. 04, 2015)
Here's the thing about cheese: it's delicious. But how did it get that way? And what's the difference between Gouda and Gruyere, anyway? Via a combination of science and taste-testing, we'll try to find out!


A1566: Drawing Games in Splash Spring 15 (Apr. 04, 2015)
If you've ever wanted to practice drawing and then realized you have no idea what to draw, this is the class for you! We'll play surrealist drawing games to create strange, fabulous, and frequently hilarious drawing creations -- no prior art skills required.


E1422: Fractals, Demystified in Sprout Spring 15 (Feb. 14 - 28, 2015)
Fractals…you know what they look like, but do you have any idea what they really are? We'll break fractals down into their simplest (self-similar) parts in order to understand how a coastline could be of infinite length, why it makes sense for a shape to be log(3) dimensional, what any of this has to do with snowflakes. And then we'll build our own!


E1357: Chemotaxis: Bacterial Motors and Random Walks in Splash Fall 14 (Nov. 08, 2014)
How can bacteria successfully navigate towards food or away from toxins with only the most basic tools? What makes them go? And where does math come into it? We'll answer these questions while taking a look at the fascinating chemical mechanisms and mathematical principles driving some of nature's simplest creatures!


M1358: Fractals, Demystified in Splash Fall 14 (Nov. 08, 2014)
Fractals…you know what they look like, but do you have any idea what they really are? We'll break fractals down into their simplest (self-similar) parts in order to understand how a coastline could be of infinite length, why it makes sense for a shape to be log(3) dimensional, what any of this has to do with snowflakes. And then we'll build our own!


S1167: Do it Faster!: An Introduction to Algorithms in Sprout Summer 2014 (Jul. 12 - Aug. 02, 2014)
Algorithms are just lists of instructions to tell someone (usually, a computer) how to solve a problem. But what makes an algorithm good? And how do you come up with one? We will look at some simple algorithms for solving everyday problems, including sorting and finding common factors, and then throw caution to the wind and create our own algorithms for some interesting situations.


S1169: Plein Air Drawing in Sprout Summer 2014 (Jul. 12 - Aug. 02, 2014)
From the French term "plein air" (meaning "in the open air"), and the English term "drawing" (meaning, "drawing"), plein air drawings are art that happens outside. Hillhouse Avenue, described by both Charles Dickens and Mark Twain as "the most beautiful street in America", is probably a decent place to make a drawing, if you like that kind of thing.


M1055: Tic Tac WHOA! in Splash Spring 14 (Mar. 29, 2014)
So you've played tic tac toe before--and I bet you think you've got it all figured out. But what if your tic tac toe board suddenly mutated into a 3 dimensional monstrosity? What if each move had a price?? What if the whole game suddenly became infinitely large??? We'll analyze some of the hidden complexities of traditional tic tac toe before moving on to learning (and playing!) some more extreme variations.


M1088: The Wonders of Color: How Graph Coloring Solves Qualitative Problems in Splash Spring 14 (Mar. 29, 2014)
Experience the insights and the mathematics behind map-making, scheduling, solving Sudoku, and more!


S909: Cool Areas of Math You've Never Considered in Sprout Spring 14 (Feb. 15 - Mar. 01, 2014)
We'll dabble a bit in graph theory, game theory, and probability theory. This class will be primarily designed so that you get a very basic idea of the problems you can solve with these areas of math. We'll outline some fundamental principles in each area through interesting examples (we will actually play a few games when we get to game theory).


S910: Word Art: Typography and Illusion in Sprout Spring 14 (Feb. 15 - Mar. 01, 2014)
This is not your grandmother's typography. Join us to find out what makes fonts so unreasonably important, why you should care about "serifs" or "kerning", and how to harness the power of illusion to convert a variety of little squiggles into real, live words! We will then use some of the principles we've learned to create word-art illusions inspired by the work of illustrious lettering ninja Scott Kim.


M796: Fractals: the Infinite Frontier in Splash Fall 13 (Nov. 09, 2013)
Fractals…you know what they look like, but do you have any idea what they really are? Come join us to find out how a coastline could be of infinite length, a shape can be log(3) dimensional, and infinite cats can turn into…well, I won’t spoil it for you, but I promise it’s awesome.


S583: Fractals: the Infinite Frontier in Sprout Fall 13 (Oct. 05 - 19, 2013)
Fractals...you know what they look like, but do you have any idea what they really are? Come join us to find out how a coastline could be of infinite length, a shape can be log(3) dimensional, and infinite cats can turn into...well, I won't spoil it for you, but I promise it's awesome.


M381: Logic Puzzles! in Splash Spring 13 (Apr. 06, 2013)
What would happen on a mysterious island where nobody tells the truth? How could a blind man figure out the color of his hat? And how could a crafty prisoner subjected to a diabolical set of rules successfully free the jail? We'll look at these puzzles and more, both interactively and from a mathematical perspective. So come join us to do some math, eat some snacks, and find out how useful it is to know what you don't know!