Animating Complex Mathematical Concepts Using MATLAB Home

"Thanks to MATLAB programming and visualization features, I was able to observe my animations step by step and quickly modify and update them whenever necessary. MATLAB really does accelerate the pace of engineering and science."

Mehmet Yavuz, Ph.D

Mehmet Yavuz is a research scientist in the semiconductor industry with a Ph.D in electrical engineering. In his spare time, Mehmet uses MATLAB Home™ to create educational animations, which he posts for free online, continuing a project that he started during his visiting professorship at the American University of Sharjah. Yavuz's simple, open-access videos help students visualize complex mathematical concepts, and have been viewed in more than 180 countries.

After I finished my Ph.D., I spent a year teaching electromagnetics to undergraduates and graduates. My courses covered a lot of complex mathematics formulations, and I realized that students often had difficulty connecting the math to the actual physical behavior of electromagnetic phenomena. I wanted my students to be able to clearly visualize these concepts, so I decided to create animations that show how mathematical formulations translate into phenomena like wave propagation and polarization.

The Work

I chose to use MATLAB® for this project because it’s fast and flexible. MATLAB allows me to create, modify, view, and update my animations quickly and easily. It’s a very powerful and adaptable program. I’ve also benefited a lot from the rich tools available on MATLAB Central File Exchange. The libraries submitted by fellow MATLAB users made dealing with graphics much faster and easier.

The Results

My students gave me such positive feedback that I decided to post the animations on YouTube. Since then, my videos have been viewed all over the world. I gain from this work, too, deepening my understanding of the concepts as I try to figure out the best way to explain or visualize a given phenomenon.

The Future

Although I left teaching in 2010 to start my career as a research scientist, I want to continue contributing to the education of students worldwide. I design and code new videos whenever I have the time, and I also started to include some of my own code on File Exchange. While I concentrate mostly on optical and electromagnetics topics, I recently prepared several animations for basic signal processing concepts. I also talk with engineering peers and students whenever I can, in order to get new ideas and feedback on the quality of my work. I have a long list of ideas that I want to implement.

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