The Mathematics Local-Area Network

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The Mathematics Local-Area Network (MathLAN) was created in 1987 to provide Grinnell College students in mathematics and computer science courses with a modern, accessible, well-stocked computing environment. It comprises about sixty-five workstations and four servers, running the GNU/Linux operating system. (Most, including all of the workstations, run the Debian distribution of GNU/Linux.) MathLAN supports a large variety of software for mathematics (notably MATLAB, Maple, Magma, and Mathematica), computing (various programming-language translators, the DrScheme programming environment, the Java 2 Platform, etc.), and document creation and display (such as Emacs, TEX, and Mozilla Firefox).

MathLAN has been developed to meet a broad range of curricular needs of both students and faculty:

About 1000 students, faculty, staff members, and recent graduates of Grinnell College currently maintain accounts on MathLAN.

Most of MathLAN is located in the southeast wing of the Science Building. Each of the classrooms on the top floor of this wing is equipped with a MathLAN workstation linked to a Proxima projection system, for presentations and demonstrations. In addition, the largest of the classrooms contains sixteen workstations for students to use during class activities, laboratory sessions, and workshops.

The MathLAN laboratory contains eighteen workstations, one of which can be similarly linked to a projection system when the lab is used for a class. A printing area at one end of the laboratory contains three printers: two Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 4200ns and an Hewlett-Packard Color LaserJet 4500DN.

The laboratory, the computer-equipped classroom, and the study room are open for student use from 8 a.m. to midnight on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays, from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and from noon to midnight on Sundays. In the evenings and on weekends, a user consultant is present in the laboratory to answer questions and provide general assistance.

Additional workstations are in the Mathematics and Science Center (Science 2012), the Modern/Waves lab (Science 1133), and the Atomic Physics lab (Science 1332). Most of the other workstations that compose MathLAN are located in faculty and staff offices. Servers for home-directory files, third-party software, computation, remote login, e-mail, the department's Web, ftp, and CVS sites, databases, authentication, and domain name resolution are in a utility room in the basement of the Science building (Science 0235).

MathLAN was originally constructed with funds provided in part by the National Science Foundation, the Charles E. Culpeper Foundation, and the W. M. Keck Foundation, and was subsequently funded in part by the Instrumentation and Laboratory Improvement program of the National Science Foundation and by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

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