Bridging Mathematics and Computer Science Through Threshold Concepts

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


Contribution: Using threshold concepts as the framework for curriculum design, a project on neural network methods for solving differential equations is presented, with a rich set of transformative concepts from mathematics and computer science. Projects of this kind complement a typical curriculum with expertise that is crucial for critique and fundamental development of modern machine learning. Background: The curricula of many schools of mathematics and computer science present a relatively shallow introduction to the other subject. Student projects, on the other hand, provide an effective environment for interdisciplinary research between the two disciplines. Intended Outcomes: Providing students from computer science and mathematics the opportunity to obtain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the other subject, beyond the confines of the school curriculum. Application Design: The project contains tasks that require acquisition, not just of knowledge, but also of effective strategies and mental models, relevant to a set of transformative concepts from both disciplines. The tasks require a spectrum of activities, ranging from rigorous theoretical work to coding. Findings: Although the theory of threshold concepts needs further development, the existing paradigms provide a helpful framework for curriculum design. The continuous formative assessment proved effective in monitoring the participants’ journeys through the liminal state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Education
Early online date1 Sep 2022
Publication statusPublished Online - 1 Sep 2022


  • Cognitive science
  • Differential equation
  • Differential equations
  • Machine learning
  • mathematical foundations of computer science
  • Mathematical models
  • Mathematics
  • neural network
  • Neural networks
  • summer project
  • Task analysis
  • threshold concept

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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