...a companion blog to "Math-Frolic," specifically for interviews, book reviews, weekly-linkfests, and longer posts or commentary than usually found at the Math-Frolic site.

"Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty – a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show." ---Bertrand Russell (1907) Rob Gluck

"I have come to believe, though very reluctantly, that it [mathematics] consists of tautologies. I fear that, to a mind of sufficient intellectual power, the whole of mathematics would appear trivial, as trivial as the statement that a four-legged animal is an animal." ---Bertrand Russell (1957)

******************************************************************** Rob Gluck

Friday, September 15, 2017

Some Mathy Reading for the Weekend

The nation presses on through week 32 of Trumpian antics… and the math bits continue coming:

1)  Mathologer, covering a lot of ground in 15 minutes:

2)  A compendium of math games (h/t Sherri Burroughs):

3)  Two doses of Ben Orlin in a single week (I feel like a glutton):

4)  NY Times obituary for the father of ‘fuzzy logic’ (h/t Steve Strogatz):

5)  The latest London Mathematical Society Newsletter available online here (h/t Peter Cameron):

…and latest issue of “The Variable” from the Saskatchewan Mathematics Teachers’ Society (h/t Egan Chernoff):

6)  H/T to Keith Devlin for tweeting out “please read” this March post by Tracy Zager (read the comments as well) on the interplay of math and language:

7)  Taxicab geometry via Futility Closet:

8)  Robert Talbert’s one-year plan for converting to flipped learning:

9)  An introduction, from Deborah Mayo, to Charles Peirce’s take on induction:
[p.s… for anyone deeply interested in Peirce’s work, Jon Awbrey’s blog often addresses it:

10)  The one-and-only Jordan Ellenberg is featured this week on the “My Favorite Theorem” podcast, and he explains a linkage between Fermat's Little Theorem and Pascal's Triangle:

11)  Brian Hayes' latest book of essays, "Foolproof, and Other Mathematical Meditations" should start showing up in bookstores any day now.

On a side note, lest anyone hasn't heard, by the time you read this, and after a 13-year journey of discovery, the Cassini spacecraft will have crashed into planet Saturn this morning, with a lot of coverage on the Web (not of the actual crash event).

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest): 

1)  Well, this Twitter thread gave me waaay more laughs than I was expecting:

2)  For sheer entertainment, a Japanese Rube Goldberg machine on steroids:

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Math Potpourri Before the Storm

Having pressed through week 32 of Trumpian antics, the math bits continue coming:

1)  A Gödelian primer:

2)  Evelyn Lamb on “Public Domain Math”:

3)  Popularity of baby names:

4)  Only a little math amongst a slew of cognitive topics brought together in this long Scott Alexander book review of “Surfing Uncertainty”:

5)  Peter Cameron on p-values and Bayes:

6)  Ben Orlin’s great tribute to his own colleagues (…while also making an important point about math education):

7)  H/T to Steve Strogatz for citing this instructive old algebraic Quora post:

8)  For those who enjoy such things John Urschel is doing a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" edition TODAY at 2pm EDT.

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest): 

1)  By now most of you have probably seen the letter left by President Obama for the incoming president before Donny Trump turned the Oval Office into a tawdry caricature of what it once was:

2)  For pickleball fans, a compilation of some great rallies:

[...And lastly, good luck to all of you in Irma's path in the days immediately ahead.]

Friday, September 1, 2017

First Potpourri of September

Assuming by now that you’ve dried your eyes over the loss of Sebastian Gorka from this White House after 31 despotic weeks (...Sad), I’ll pass along a few miscellaneous math reads:

1)  Steve Strogatz’s lectures on “Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos” available here:

2)  A primer on quantum computing:

3)  Journals (including math journals) ‘behaving badly’:

4)  Anthony Bonato offers a quick introduction to P vs. NP:
(p.s...: for anyone who didn't hear, the recent claim to a proof has been retracted)

5)  I was writing a post about the absurdity (or at least misunderstanding) of phrases like “1 in a 100-year flood” or now “1 in a 500-year flood” — but then Maggie Koerth-Baker covered it at FiveThirtyEight (though I’d be even harsher than she about phrases where the variables can’t even be adequately catalogued or defined, let alone measured):

6)  A new episode from the “Relatively Prime” podcast:

7)  Cool!... going live with "An #MTBoS Story" in front of 80 colleagues:

8)  Mathematical mutants and self-organization via "Mathematics Rising":

9)  On Tuesday I asked about the Collatz conjecture, and am still interested in any further ‘backstory’ if anyone has something to pass along.

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest): 

1)  A long, wonderful read from Scott Alexander on research and IRBs:
(...and a bunch of followup comments/stories to his post HERE.)

2)  And finally, in the category of ‘things-I-stumbled-upon-while-bopping-around-the-web-that-I’d-never-heard-of-before’ this performance on a “Chapman stick”:

p.s…: If any math communicator out there would like to be interviewed here let me know. Maybe you have a book or project to promote, or just want to further publicize a blog or website, or you just have a story you’d like to tell; whatever! Contact me at SheckyR{AT}gmail…

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Weekly Math-mix

Week 30 with our now Bannon-less President has come & gone.
The math keeps on coming:

1)  Ilona Vaschyshyn is “sick of viral math”:

2)  Math isn't just useful, it’s also amazing, fun, exhilarating, fascinating, beautiful (via Eugenia Cheng):

3)  Podcast #3 from Evelyn Lamb and Kevin Knudson available at Evelyn’s blog here:

4)  Emily Riehl is interviewed, in part on category theory:

5)  Andrew Gelman with a research/analysis proposal, separating data-reporting and analysis:

6)  Cathy O’Neil’s 13-min. TED Talk on big data has now been posted:

7)  Here’s a nice collection of classroom management posts:

8)  New 3-part series on math and the brain from PBS’sInfinite Series” begins here:

9)  Over at Math-Frolic I did 4 quickie posts in a row this week: a Sunday reflection, a puzzle, a parody, and a musing over statues.

10) Wonderful AMS interview with Kelsey Houston-Edwards, host of the PBS’s “Infinite Series,” mentioned above:

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest): 

1)  If you missed the eclipse totality, National Geographic & Cara Santa Maria were there to share it with you:

2)  And speaking of the eclipse, see Americans really ARE interested in science (h/t Jennifer Ouellette):


p.s…: Did ya all notice this week that a couple of those who resigned from Trump's Administration (…such as it is), ‘encrypted’ messages into their letters of resignation. Seems like something we might all start doing, even in blog posts…

Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday Helping of Potpourri

It’s August 2017 and I’m being distracted by Nazis in America… who’d-a-thunk-it! 
Anyway, a little bit of math, after week 29 under our Aryan President:

1)  Another new mathy podcast:

2) Of ants and math… who knew!:

3)  Fawn Nguyen talks classroom management:

4)  John Baez’s initial comments on a new P vs. NP proof (that's not expected to survive scrutiny):
…a longer take on it here:

5)  At least two new popular math books worth a mention:
Significant Figures” from Ian Stewart
…and “Arithmetic” from Paul Lockhart

6)  Brand-spanking new from James Propp, in case your knowledge of Arthur Engel and ‘chip firings’ is a bit shallow: 
…see also his ‘Barefoot MathYouTube site:

7)  Patrick Honner offers a primer on symmetry via Quanta Magazine:

8)  Need more to read?… Peter Cameron recently pointed out the latest edition (June) of the European Mathematical Society’s newsletter:
(...includes a longish, somewhat different take on "Mathematics and Music" beginning on pg. 41)

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest): 

1)  Timely: folks have been passing around Annie Dillard’s 1982 essay, “Total Eclipse”:

2)  I don’t generally read older philosophers anymore, but Scott Aaronson recently recommended that everyone read John Stuart Mill’s “The Subjection of Women” (60 pgs.), saying  “Everyone should read it carefully and reflect on it if they haven’t already.” So maybe I’ll try to get to it this weekend:

HAPPY eclipse-watching everybody!, and ohh, maybe just one last thing for the week:

Friday, August 11, 2017

Some Math Bits

Week #28 of the Trumpocalypse came and went, and so far not a single nuclear exchange has transpired… so on with some math:

1) Explaining Gödel to lay folks:

2)  From Will Gervais one of the more fun, entertaining, and thoughtful reads I’ve come across since the whole psychology-replication issue hit the fan:

3)  If you love baseball… and Paul Erdös, you’ll love this Numberphile episode from a few days back:

4)  Kevin Hartnett reports on two new ‘rare mathematical jewels’:

5)  An interview with always-exuberant James Grime:
(…it reminded me of one of my earliest interviews which was also with James:

6)  A rough year for a math teacher:
…I wish I felt more confident that the next 3 will be any better :(

8)  I offered up a quick list of my favorite books for a desert isle… or, more likely a Trump-induced exile:

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest): 

1) Last weekend, NPR’s RadioLab re-ran their incredible story of Lucy… the chimp… but by the end have some kleenex ready:

2) Peter Woit worries over the current state of physics/cosmology/science:

Friday, August 4, 2017

A Few Picks From the Week

Some math I looked at whildst surviving week #27 of the Trumpian cesspool (now headed to a grand jury):

1) John Baez is turning his sights on biology, and in turn chemistry:

2)  A little bit on graph theory and Ramsey numbers:

3)  A lot of cool responses/comments to a question Grant Sanderson posed on Twitter this week:

4)  A relatively new (couple months old) statistics blog here:

5)  Tim Gowers’ efforts to “flip” journals, paying off:

6)  Patrick Honner recaps the problems with the NY State Regents Math Exam:

7)  Okay, not much math here, but I just enjoy statistician Gelman when he’s peeved at psychology:

8)  Episode 2 of Kevin Knudson/EvelynLamb's "My Favorite Theorem" podcast, with Dave Richeson:

9)  Need more math enjoyment?:
Evelyn Lamb’s monthly reading suggestions for your pleasure here:

…and the new “Carnival of Mathematics” here:

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest): 

1)  Yet another science podcast debuted this week (“Methods”) with 3 episodes right off the bat:

2)  A new map of the Universe's dark matter:

Friday, July 28, 2017

Math-mix For the Week Ending

Some varied math bits that caught my eye amidst week #26 of Trumpocalypse:

1)  Interesting interview with educator Alan Schoenfeld:

2)  The latest from Brian Hayes:

3)  A statistical talk on YouTube I haven’t found time to watch all of yet, but was recommended on Gelman’s blog:

4)  Erica Klarreich on game theory, John Nash, and economics:

5)  Popsci report on a Chinese “Good Will Hunting” working with Carmichael numbers:

6)  Grothendieck lives on, sort of:

7)  For teachers, parents, mathematicians, an interesting Twitter thread here (related to what’s often called ‘teaching to the test’):

8) And speaking of testing, if you haven’t already been following along you might want to check out the issues (again) Patrick Honner finds with the latest NY State Regents Math Exam:

9)  Like I don’t have enough podcasts to listen to… dang if Kevin Knudson & Evelyn Lamb haven't started a new one:

…and speaking of podcasts, the latest from Sam Hansen’s “Relatively Prime”:

10)  Benjamin, Berger, Ioannidis, Nosek, et.al. argue for lowering p-values to 0.005 for the social and biomedical sciences:

11)  Prime number enthusiasts may find this paper of interest:

12) John Baez on ‘the geometry of music’:

13)  Slime molds as mathematicians, via Joselle at “Mathematics Rising”:

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest): 

1)  Oh those predatory journals! (getting stung):

2)  Meanwhile, the below avian well-expresses my own feelings every time I hear Donald Trump’s name arise in conversation:

Friday, July 21, 2017

Some Reads From the Week...

Week #25 of America’s Trumpian nightmare, but at least there's some wonderful math to distract us (including some more pieces I noted over at Math-Frolic yesterday):

1)  Another ‘math-is-beautiful’ article, starting off with Maryam Mirzakhani  (h/t Keith Devlin):

2)  Neurons use linear algebra to recognize faces:

3)  Sara Vanderwerf (who hasn’t used a math textbook for her students in the last 4 years) recommends some Web resources for the classroom:

4)  I love profiles of mathematicians, and this has been a banner week for them…
a) If you haven’t already read enough about Maryam Mirzakhani I added several more links at the end of the initial post I did upon her death:

b) h/t to Nalini Joshi for pointing out this long, fascinating piece on Grothendieck:

c)  If you don’t already know of it, Holly Krieger pointed out this “Women in maths” Facebook page (where she is currently profiled) a couple days ago:

d) and I’ll repeat mention of the piece I linked to earlier at Math-Frolic on the great Robert Langlands:

These are all great reads if you’re into biographical portraits!

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest): 

1)  Who knew!? The best song of all time is “Africa” by Toto:
(hey, DON’T write me, write Gizmodo)

2)  The wonderful story of checkers, Marion Tinsley, and Chinook (h/t Jordan Ellenberg):

Friday, July 14, 2017

Some End-of-Week Picks

Week #24 of Trump dismantling America while the GOP watches & smirks….

1) Andrew Gelman once again takes a look at psychology replication:

2) Still confused by Bitcoin... Grant Sanderson’s latest 2 videos (3Blue1Brown) have been on cryptocurrencies:

3)  Math and music:

4)  Thanks to Martin Gardner many of you know of Marjorie Rice who gave hope to amateur mathematicians everywhere; now dead at 97:

5)  And more elaborately discussing all the convex pentagons/polygons that tile the plane (via Quanta): 

6)  The latest issue of the online Journal of Humanistic Mathematics:

7)  A prestigious math journal retracts a 16-year-old paper:

8)  Another followup to the prior Anna Haensch “refrain-from-discussing-mathematics” viral story from a couple weeks back:

9)  The latest from Keith Devlin on 'representations,' learning, and 'exploding dots':

10)  "Category Theory for Normal Humans" (podcast) with Eugenia Cheng:
(p.s. Cheng also has her own YouTube channel HERE.)

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest): 

1)  Last week, NPR’s TED Radio Hour re-ran a fascinating prior episode titled “Hidden”:
(The first segment is especially mind-blowing about translating the vibrations of everyday objects into sound.)

2) Longish, interesting piece, via FiveThirtyEight on AI and chess and other games:

Friday, July 7, 2017

Short Potpourri

Week #23 of the hijacking of America…

…sorry, a short potpourri this week, as I’ve had too much summer busy-ness this week, while also remaining glued to the Yingying Zhang case in Illinois, where the accused has now been imprisoned, not in Champaign-Urbana, but in my own original hometown of Decatur!

1)  Plenty more math to read in latest “Math Teachers At Play” blog:

2)  I’ve already instructed all of you to subscribe to Evelyn Lamb’s monthly “TinyLetter,” so I’m not even going to inform you that this month’s edition is here. ;)

3)  The best way to play “Hangman” (h/t Dave Richeson):

4)  Alex Bellos’ Monday puzzle (he knows you always get more hits if you put a cat in the puzzle ;):

5)  More math gems from Jo Morgan:

6)  And to take up the rest of your time, another wonderful post from Brian Hayes, this time exploring the pecking-chickens-in-a-circle problem that went around recently:

ADDENDUM:  The newest "Carnival of Mathematics" came out after I posted the potpourri, so don't mind adding it here:

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest): 

1)  Last week’s TED Radio Hour was all about space (with Brian Greene, Phil Plait, and Jill Tarter):

2) …and keeping with a sciencey theme, plenty of cool essays from the FQXi Essay Contest winners:

Friday, June 30, 2017


It's week #22 of America-as-a-global-laughingstock, and, here's a li'l math:

1)  Interview with Aussie mathematician David Roberts:

2)  A former child prodigy writes about the movie “Gifted” and being a math prodigy (h/t Jordan Ellenberg):

3)  Recommended books on game theory (h/t Emmanuel Derman):

4)  The Futility Closet podcast this week paid tribute to Paul Erdös:

5)  Confidence intervals and other statistical ranges:

6) John Baez reports on “Cleo”:

7)  Another wonderful math profile (from Quanta):

8) Robert Talbert on problems with the definition of “flipped learning”:

9)  New from Numberphile, mathematics vs. physics:

10)  Latest "Bulletin of the AMS" here (h/t Steve Strogatz):

11)  Gelman on Ioannidis and published research findings:
...and his own followup post here:

12)  Latest podcast from "Relatively Prime" is all about communicating mathematics:

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest): 

1)  I've been rather distracted this week by a likely June 9th abduction case in central Illinois (near my original hometown) that gets odder as time goes on: