...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.

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"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, April 28, 2017

Some Friday Math Picks


1)  James Tanton interviewed:

...and here, an experiment proposed with logarithms from by Dr. Tanton:

2)  Colm Mulcahy on the “Mathematics Genealogy Project”:

3)  Mark Chu-Carroll offers up an intro to “type theory”:

4)  Anna Haensch writes about “Gifted,” the movie and the trait:

5)  Series, as only Ben Orlin could explain them:

6)  Mike Lawler offered up a challenge to “everyone in and around math.” Care to take him up on it:
https://mikesmathpage.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/a-challenge-to-everyone-in-and-around-math/

...Mike's been on fire this week with interesting posts/problems, so check 'em out if you get the chance.

7)  "What Is a Manifold?":
http://blogs.ams.org/mathgradblog/2017/04/27/manifold-66/

8)  Andrew Gelman (and a lot of commenters) on "evidence-based design":
http://andrewgelman.com/2017/04/27/whole-fleet-wansinks-architecture-design-trillion-dollar-industry-founded-pseudoscience/


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

1)  In case you've somehow missed it, Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia is launching a new project to fight fake news, called “Wikitribune”:

2)  John Horgan interviews Peter Woit (mostly on physics):
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/why-string-theory-is-still-not-even-wrong/



Friday, April 21, 2017

Potpourri



1)  I admit it; I rarely tire of essays on the beauty of math:

2)  Presh Talwalkar on the United Airline fiasco and "Vickrey auctions":

3)  Ben Orlin’s post this week highlight’s Cornell’s John Hopcroft… and China:

4) “Maths Anxiety”:

5)  New provocative essay on mathematics from irascible Doron Zeilberger (dedicated to Reuben Hersh):
https://arxiv.org/pdf/1704.05560.pdf

6)  Andrew Gelman has found a statistics book he actually likes ;) :
http://andrewgelman.com/2017/04/20/teaching-statistics-bag-tricks-second-edition/

7)  Long, nice tribute to Bill Thurston (h/t S. Strogatz):
http://www.ams.org/samplings/feature-column/fc-2017-04

8)  Those interested, no doubt already know all about it, but just a reminder that the “March For Science” takes place tomorrow in Wash. D.C. (and all across the nation):

AND, it coincides with the National Math Festival in Wash. D.C. as well:


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

1)  Philosopher David Chalmers interviewed by John Horgan:

2)  Love and sex researcher Helen Fisher on this week’s episode of Krista Tippett’s “On Being”:


Monday, April 17, 2017

"The Calculus of Happiness"





Oscar Fernandez’s slim “The Calculus of Happiness” is a somewhat quirky popular math entry focusing on using math (very little calculus involved) as an aid to one’s health, wealth, and love life. No doubt some will find the book entertaining and enlightening depending on your interest in these 3 topic areas. And it’s nice to see a book devoted to showing the public how basic math applies directly to common areas of the public’s interest.

Part 1 deals with diet/eating/nutrition. Of course entire (and large) tomes have been written on these topics that Fernandez is devoting less than 40 pages to. Still, Fernandez distills much helpful, practical info into a small space, touching on several different subjects. 
In a similar way, I think the last (3rd) part on dating and relationships is a succinct, entertaining treatment, reducing some human complexity to algorithms and modeling.
Part 2 of the book, on the mathematics of financial matters was the one of most interest to me. The interesting take-home argument of the second part is that, overall, a portfolio of investments split about 50/50 between stocks and bonds is best for the long haul. That’s a more conservative approach than most argue in favor of, but Fernandez makes a strong case that if you’re not interested in trading or following your investments closely, than such a buy-and-hold approach with 50% stocks/bonds makes sense (it’s essentially a sort of turtle versus hare approach; sacrificing some gains in the best years to guard against major losses in the bad years, and sleep better at night!).
Each chapter of the book (there are 2 chapters to each Part) ends with a helpful little summary of the main mathematical and non-mathematical take-home points from the chapter, as well as some 'bonus practical tips.'

Your interest in this book will be largely determined by your interest in the 3 subject areas… on the one hand these are three areas that are already well-covered elsewhere to the point of overkill… on the other hand, they are covered so much, specifically because they are areas of continuing interest to so many people.
At less than 150 pages the volume is a quick read, and the Parts need not be read in the order given if your inclination is otherwise.
There are also 6 Appendices which flesh out more of the math that is touched on in the body of the book.

MAA review of the volume is here:

...and the author is interviewed at the Publisher's page here:
http://blog.press.princeton.edu/2017/03/22/oscar-e-fernandez-on-the-calculus-of-happiness/



Friday, April 14, 2017

This Friday's Mix


1)  Ramsey Theory progresses:

2)  Are you a math teacher who missed NCTM in San Antonio? Cathy Yenca will make you wish you’d been there:

…also for teachers, Jo Morgan regularly offers up “gems” for the classroom:

…and perhaps taking one more step Mike Lawler offered up a long post with 10 “complex, rich tasks” for students:

3) The “Linus Sequence” via Futility Closet:

4)  Alex Bellos explaining a slice of a Menger Sponge:

5) plus.maths.org has an ongoing “Women of Mathematics” series:

6)  Another amazing posting from Brian Hayes (factorials, patterns, number theory and more):

7)  Fawn Nguyen is incapable of writing an average post… she just opts to blow you away every time:


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

1)  This week’s This American Life re-ran a segment they’d run earlier on the Dunning-Kruger effect (which has received a lot of extra focus since Nov. 8, 2016):

[The entire show, 3 segments, is once again fascinating.]





Friday, April 7, 2017

For Your Weekend Browsing


1)  A new Carnival of Mathematics:

2)  “Yes, But Why?”… book for math teachers:

3)  “Aronson’s sequence” from Futility Closet:

4)  Erica Klarreich explains why state gerrymandering is more difficult for the courts to recognize than the rest of us:

5)  Nice intro to some basic probability paradoxes from “The Conversation”:

6)  Keith Devlin promoting a book and respectability for Fibonacci, while debunking legend:

7)  “The Improbability Principle”… an overview of a David Hand book:

8)  Andrew Gelman has Cornell on his mind (long post/rant):


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

1)  Teaching 5th graders to recognize fake news:

2)  Speaking of fakery, must-reading for fans of science and Seinfeld: