Digital Math Used to be Funky. Not Anymore with Columbia and MIT Undergraduates’ New Company

by / 1 Comment / 265 View / March 19, 2017

Writing digital math is difficult. Either you learn a tough markup language like LaTeX or you use a funky drag and drop editor. A group of undergraduates have set out to change that.

Parsegon is a company founded by undergraduates Mathew Pregasen (Columbia ’18), Anuke Ganegoda (Columbia ’18), Sahir Jaggi (Columbia ’17), and Rikhav Shah (MIT ’19).  Parsegon invented a way, patent provisional, to translate English descriptions of math into digital typeset mathematical notation. To provide an example, Parsegon’s technology could take a sentence “integral from 0 to 10 in region D of 2x squared + 3x cubed – the square root of x” and convert it into visual, textbook-formatted math.

The platform is advantageous for math and STEM teachers in two ways: (a) writing assignments is easier and more accessible than alternates and (b) students can show work on digital assignments and receive partial credit. This makes digital math competitive with traditional pencil and paper approaches.  Previously, digital math required intensive understanding of markup languages like LaTeX or compromising flexibility with the use of drag and drop editors.

Photo: Mathew Pregasen, one of the team’s co-founders, started Parsegon out of his Dorm Room.

The company is working with pilot high schools from states of New York, New Jersey, Texas, and Florida.

Parsegon’s technology supports virtually all forms of math, including calculus, discrete math, matrices, and graphs. Parsegon released its flagship education product  in January 2017 that allows teachers to write homework assignments and exams effortlessly using just English descriptions of math. Parsegon also affords full customizability to teachers to write, modify, and specify the answer method for any question.

The full team alongside co-founders is made up entirely of undergraduates. The team consists additionally of  Talia Pelts (MIT ’21), Austin Hopkins (JHU ’18), Neha Pai (NYU ’21), and Simon Dharmakirthi (Valencia ’20).

Parsegon’s technology has been backed by Columbia University including Columbia Entrepreneurship and administrators from the Math and Engineering Departments. Parsegon has also received financial backing from Rough Draft Ventures and DRF. Parsegon won the Columbia Venture Competition $25,000 grand prize and received an additional $20,000 ignition grant from the university.

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