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extended essay math ideas

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International Baccalaureate (IB)

Mathematics Education


What are good topics for IB math EE?

3 Answers

Tumul Kumar

Tumul Kumar , IB alum, class of 2017

First of all, I must say you are brave for doing your EE in Maths. Most people in my school warned me not to do it as it usually results in a low grade, but I did it anyways (and got a good score) so, I think I can write a decent answer.

  • If you are interested in discrete mathematics then, you can easily write your EE on real-life applications of any topic in number theory (or even graph theory). For instance, I wrote about the applications of continued fractions in approximating the values of real number. You can do similar EE on diophantine equations, fermat’s little theorem, euclidean division algorithms etc.
  • If you are into cryptography then, your EE can be about either the development and mathematics behind elliptical curve cryptography (used by NSA) or Vigenere Ciphers. I am not that familiar with cryptography so, I can’t give out more ideas but I am sure talking to your advisor you can get a good EE question out of crytography.
  • If you are interested in CS (computer science) then, your EE can be about quaternions. Quaternions is not studied at IB level so, even a bit elementary treatment of quaternions and their applications should make for a good maths EE. (A friend of mine did his on quaternions and it’s application to rotation of 3-d solids and got an A!)
  • If you are into natural sciences, then finding the application of mathematics in any field of natural sciences could result in a good Maths EE. For instance, go for the use of calculus ( a bit advanced) or modular arithmetic, and find some good applications of it. But mind you, your focus should be the maths behind the phenomenon not the phenomenon itself!

There are many more exciting possibilites for EE topics and I hope you will find a great one. Best of luck with your Maths EE topic hunt!

PS- here are some websites that might be useful:

  1. Extended Essay Exemplars – International Baccalaureate Program at MHS
  2. http://repository.cmu.edu/cgi/vi…
  3. IB Maths Resources from British International School Phuket

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Jack Thomas

Jack Thomas

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Ranen Po

Ranen Po , IB Diploma from International Baccalaureate

First off, before we begin, are you SURE that you want to do your EE in Math? Don’t just be somewhat interested, you have to be passionate or really knowledgeable about mathematics, or else you will lose interest/ and or grow to hate your EE. Not to mention your final mark won’t be as good as if you did something you are engaged and interested in.

That being said, I did my EE on History, I really have no advice to give apart from general generic advices. I know someone who did his Math EE on Rubik’s Cube, so maybe that’s something you can consider?

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