Maths Resource of the Week 33

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Minimum Connector Program

• An interactive way of looking at Prim’s and Kruskal’s algorithms.
• What is it? - As I have mentioned before when describing a Resource of the Week, I am somewhat in awe of people who can do fancy things using Excel. The reason a good resource built using Excel can prove such an invaluable teaching tool is often they can be used to generate an infinite number of questions, which can then be solved in a dynamic way. That is exactly the case here where we have an Excel worksheet designed to tackle the matrix formulation of the two minimum connector algorithms from the Decision 1 A Level Module. Both Prim’s and Kruskal’s are presented by means of fully worked examples followed by an infinite number of practice questions. The solutions are then dynamically presented in a clear and colourful manner.
• How could it be used? - I think this resource is ideally suited to whole class teaching. Students can be walked trough how to use each of the algorithms using the practice example. Then, print off a load of blank grids for the students which they can fill in as each new example appears. Students can then test their answers against the computer. Best of all, if any students are struggling to grasp the concept, simply email them a copy of this file for their use at home. Now, if only the author could write me a nicely little program to tackle the Simplex Algorithm…
PLEASE NOTE: As ever with Excel there is the issue of Macros! This worksheet needs them to be enabled, so if using a networked computer in school, go and speak to the lovely technicians!
• How have you used this resource? - Please share your ideas below.