A Virtual Voyage Around the World
Dr. Richard McNider
Department of Mathematical Sciences
University of Alabama in Huntsville
May 1, 1998
This is a nontraditional seminar that overviews the building of a mathematical model of a sailboat that can be used to take a virtual voyage around the world. The basic mathematical model of a sailboat was developed during several lectures in the graduate mathematical modeling course MA 565. The model is developed as four ordinary differential equations using concepts out of freshman physics. These equations govern the forward motion of the boat, the side slip of the boat, and the heel of the boat. The boat speed then depends on the design factors of the boat, such as waterline length, mass, hull width, etc. In the modeling class, students were asked to design a boat by analyzing the equations, and then raced their boats against each other.
The second part of the seminar discusses the use of this simple mathematical model to build a simulation system that allows one to sail the boat across oceans or around the world, using a unique global weather data set. A simulation program in Visual Basic is described and demonstrated. Come enjoy the voyage--I promise you won't get wet.
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