Monthly Archives: June 2013

Sammi Smith: The Choking Index: An Analysis of Performance Under Pressure on the PGA Tour

In nearly all sports, athletes are frequently placed in pressure-filled situations. The way the athlete responds to that stress is a key determinant of whether the competition is won or lost. As a result, athletes often gain a positive or negative reputation based on their past performances in this type of situation. An athlete who handles the pressure well and who actually performs in a manner that is better than his typical performance is cast as a clutch performer. One who lets the pressure impact him in a negative way is referred to as a choker. In this paper, we wish to examine this phenomenon in the sport of golf, specifically regarding the professional golfers on the PGA Tour. There are three main pressure scenarios that we will consider: the pressure of the last round of a tournament, the additional pressure of the last round of a tournament when in contention, and the pressure of being near the cut line. In an attempt to classify each golfer as a clutch performer or a choker, we considered creating both a function and an index for each player. Upon examining the advantages and disadvantages of each, we determined that the index approach was best. Three choking indices were created for each player, one that details a golfers tendency in the last round of a tournament and two that detail a golfers tendency when in contention going into the last round of a tournament. A choking index that describes a player’s performance near the cut line was left for future consideration. All three indices were generated using various types of hypothesis testing. Proposals for additional future work are also included.

S. Smith Proposal (PDF)

Nikki Holtzer: A Theoretical Warp Drive: The Mathematics of Faster Than Light Travel

Previously, work by Miguel Acubierre has shown the possibility of a spacecraft traveling faster than the speed of light. His 1994 paper developed a novel metric motivated by the Einstein field equations. Instead of travelling within normal space-time, which inhibits an acceleration faster than the speed of light, Acubierres spacecraft would travel across distances by contracting space in front and dilating the space behind the spacecraft. In theory, this change in space can be accomplished by placing a spherical object between two regions of space-time creating a warp bubble. Although this metric is mathematically consistent with the field equations it requires a negative energy density and thus cannot be constructed. Recently, Harold White has attempted to extend Acubierres research in hopes of creating something physically meaningful. He attempts to perturb the geometry of the warp bubble (i.e. the object altering space) to minimize the amount of energy and mass required. In this project, we propose that a utilization of optimization techniques will provide the appropriate geometry of the warp bubble that effectively minimizes both the energy and mass required. Thus far, we have comprehensively analyzed the Schwarzschild Metric and the Alcubierre Metric that will provide the basis for our future work.

N. Holtzer Proposal (PDF)