...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, January 27, 2017

Friday Math Potpourri


You’d probably rather read about Donald Trump's spiraling out of control, but instead here’s some mathy readings for the weekend:

1)  On “the declining authority of statistics” from the Guardian (h/t Nalini Joshi):

2)  The surprising success of the “Shanghai maths method” (h/t Dan Finkel):

3)  New video from “Mathologer” (on infinity and axiom of choice):

4)  A quickie salute to Eugenia Cheng, senior liberal arts lecturer at the Art Institute” (h/t to Egan Chernoff):

5)  A short list of “Fundamental Principles of Statistics”:

(from the relatively new blog, “Statistical Thinking.”)

6)  RJ Lipton & KW Regan on checking difficult proofs:

7)  New autobiographical volume on Edward O. Thorp now out:

8)  Ben Orlin with another smile-inducer, inventing words mathematicians can hardly live without:

9)  A transcribed interview with Ian Stewart:
https://www.timeshighereducation.com/people/interview-ian-stewart-university-of-warwick

10)  Finally, I haven't attempted to comprehend this, but Colm Mulcahy points out a "New Geometrical Proof of Fermat's Last Theorem" that surely will be of interest to some, reported briefly on here:
http://interestingengineering.com/geometrical-proof-fermats-theorem/

==> ADDENDUM:  a respected mathematician writes me to disapprove of including this in the potpourri saying it is “almost certainly… crank mathematics,” and indeed I’ve seen nothing on the Web lending it credence, but leave it here if only for entertainment value. If anyone cares to further comment on it feel free to.

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

1)  ICYMI, Dave Barry’s review of a year most of us would prefer to forget:

2)  As most readers here probably already know, in the aftermath and success of the Women’s March on Washington, a science march on Washington is now being planned for all those with a strong interest in the methods/integrity/conduct of science for the good of society. You can follow the progress/planning here:



Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Grab-bag


A few readings for ya, on this day that may live in infamy:

1)  Lover of prime numbers, Evelyn Lamb, gets trolled by Wilson’s Theorem:

2)  Erica Klarreich’s followup on graph isomorphism (via Quanta):

3)  Another quickie introduction to category theory:

4)  Jim Propp’s monthly posting, fascinating as always, this time on the “Prouhet/Thue/Morse sequence":

5) If Venn Diagrams bored you in school, you need to consider these from Ben Orlin:

6)  Another rock-paper-scissors twist from Presh Talwalkar:

7)  For fans of the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” who also happen to be mathematicians, well, Evelyn Lamb has the post for you:

8)  Markov chains and a chess knight (from PBS's "Infinite Series"):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63HHmjlh794 

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

1)  Natalie Wolchover (for Quanta) on a new theory of life's origins:
https://www.quantamagazine.org/20170119-active-droplets-cell-division/

2)  This is from last year but I just saw it for the first time going around this week; delightful, if you missed it:




Friday, January 13, 2017

Potpourri Time


A few from the week:


1)  Andrew Gelman back on p-values:


2)  The Riemann Hypothesis gets wonderful exposure to a wider lay audience with this great Medium piece:

3)  Another month, and another “Carnival of Mathematics” here:

4)  John McGowan looks at a career in data science:

5)  Pi in different metrics from PBS’s “Infinite Series”:

6)  Ben Orlin on mathematics and arithmetic:

7)  Steven Strogatz on eigenvectors and eigenvalues... and Google:

8) Tracy Zager has a book out “Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had.” Read about it here:
…and she has an ongoing project collecting autobiographical sketches of math teachers as well, you can keep up with here:

10)  ICYMI, a busy week at Math-Frolic touching upon interviews, a puzzle, student loan debtFrancis Su, and some news in AI.

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

1)  The always-interesting Ed Yong on some not-so-modern medical devices:

2)  Daniel Everett on “Chomsky, Wolfe, and Me”:



Friday, January 6, 2017

It's Friday Potpourri Time

Some weeks I worry about coming up with enough Friday links to pass along... this wasn't one of those weeks:

1)  For fans of prime numbers, Evelyn Lamb delivers this fun post:

2)  The “happy ending” problem via Lior Pachter:

3)  Joselle at “Mathematics Rising” relays some thoughts from Andrew Wiles:

4)  A Keith Devlin week!:

 ...on his updated MOOC course:

…on “Number Sense” here:

5)  Sudoku becomes even more fun when you tie it to symmetries, courtesy of always-entertaining Ben Orlin:

6)  Marcus du Sautoy lectures about his latest book, "What We Cannot Know":

7)  For education bloggers/tweeters, the “MTBoS 2017 Blogging Initiative” has begun; read all about it here (and take part!):
https://exploremtbos.wordpress.com/2017/01/05/new-year-new-blog/

8)  Jo Boaler briefly interviewed on the 'math wars':
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ilaina-edison/women-in-the-math-wars-jo_b_13628010.html

9)  Erica Klarreich begins the year reporting on a retraction in complexity theory:
https://www.quantamagazine.org/20170105-graph-isomorphism-retraction/

10)  One report on the popular "Hidden Figures" talk at the Joint Math Meetings conference in Atlanta this week:
https://sinews.siam.org/Details-Page/hidden-figures-rock-joint-math-meetings

11)  Do you ever get tired of hearing Steve Strogatz talk about math or education... I didn't think so (the last ~40 mins. is especially good stuff):
http://teachbetter.co/blog/2017/01/02/tbp-episode-45/

12)  Richard Schoen awarded the prestigious Wolf Prize in mathematics:
https://news.uci.edu/faculty/richard-schoen-to-receive-2017-wolf-prize-in-mathematics/

13)  ICYMI, posts at Math-Frolic this week were on the number 7 and Eric Weinstein.

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

1)  If you enjoy podcasts, this list of 50 from Atlantic Magazine looks interesting (many I’m not familiar with):

2)  Gary Taubes continues his battle against sugar:



Sunday, January 1, 2017

Readings To Start the Year



First, some New Years resolutions (you know, just in case, stating them publicly makes sticking to them any more likely ;):

1)  More exercise and fiber, less sugar, sodium, & carbs
2)  More pickleball, birding, hiking, music, flossing (just kidding)
3)  #Resist, resist, resist

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Anyway, some nice readings to start the new year with, courtesy of John Brockman’s Edge group. Every year they respond to some broad science-tinged question, and this year’s query was:
What scientific term or concept ought to be more widely known?

Doesn't sound all that scintillating, but I'm very much enjoying the responses. Haven’t seen the book version in stores yet, but the online version has 204 contributors, and looks to me to be one of the best such Edge volumes in recent years because of the sheer number, diversity, and succinctness of thoughtful, fun nuggets written. Here are just some of the more mathematically-tinged replies, and there are of course a great many interesting, non-mathematics ones as well:

Keith Devlin on Number Sense

Sean M. Carroll on Bayes’s Theorem

Bart Kosko on Negative Evidence

Jason Wilkes on Functional Equations

Lawrence Krauss on Uncertainty

Siobhan Roberts on Surreal Numbers

Ashvin Chhabra on Scaling

Kai Krause On Average

Simon Baron-Cohen on Boolean Logic

Clifford Pickover on the Menger Sponge

Much good stuff!
Scott Aaronson also took part and posted about the Edge essays at his blog with more details, so check out his take:

Lastly, I’ll note Eric Weinstein’s entry on “Russell Conjugation,” having to do with our emotional/visceral, rather than cerebral, reaction to words/language -- this is a topic that comes up in General Semantics (a subject I’ve been emphasizing of late) and which impinges on our current political scene