...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, April 27, 2018

Potpourri Again...

I’ll take a moment out from sticking additional pins into the orange doll that a local voodoo master-artisan provided me, to post a fairly eclectic Friday potpourri:

1)  Latest IntMath Newsletter chockfull of good stuff:

2)  …and more mathy stuff from this math education blog carnival:

3)   “Arithmetic Billiards” via plusMagazine:

4)  Kind of liked this: responding to a tweet this week Ben Orlin wrote: gaze into pretty much any concept in math, and an abyss of analytic philosophy and implicit Platonism gazes back.” 
Ben is sort of a mathematician, philosopher, educator, logician, social commentator, historian, cartoonist all wrapped in one! ;)

5)  Leave it to Evelyn Lamb to expound on the linkage between poetry and mathematics:

6)  Gary Davis’s “Advice to Freshman Mathematics Majors”:

7)  “5 minutes with Vicky Neale” (author of “Closing the Gap”) is from a couple of years back (but I just saw it, h/t Bart Sabbe):

8)  Some current issues in philosophy of mathematics:

10)  Not often that the comments to math Twitterers give me chuckles, but responses to this Matt Parker tweet did:

Lastly, most know by now that I consider Scott Aaronson an American gem, and he has newly-posted a longish, thought-provoking piece on education (a book review actually) that I think everyone should read -- there's no math, but hopefully every reader of this blog is interested in our education system!:

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

1)  Pretty fascinating discussion on NPR last weekend with William Blatty, original director of “The Exorcist”:

2)  There are fun tweets, amusing tweets, touching tweets, hilarious tweets, trolling tweets… and then just absolutely, crazy weird tweets:

[this fellow has a whole YouTube channel here:

Friday, April 20, 2018

Some Math From the Week

My calls to the White House are still going un-returned, so I’ll divvy up some math instead:

1)  Ben Hambrecht on his decision to go work for Grant Sanderson and 3Blue1Brown:

2)  An online “first course” in Galois theory (h/t Gary Davis):

3)  As usual, Jim Propp’s monthly offering intertwines several interesting ideas at once while asking ‘What is a number?’:

4)  A report on the recent 13th “Gathering For (Martin) Gardner” (h/t Egan Chernoff):

5)  ICY somehow missed it, Evelyn Lamb’s first piece for Quanta, on an old graph theory problem and an amateur mathematician:

6)  Another take on the classic “two-envelopes” problem:

7)  Pension math:
8)  At Math-Frolic it was a week of posts (every day) primarily prompted by an old David Wells volume, “The Penguin Book of Curious and Interesting Mathematics” — a gem of a book!  If you missed any of the posts go catch up now.

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

1)  If language perception interests you, a fascinating little piece:

2)  And a couple of Twitter entries to end with:

a)  This long, uplifting Twitter thread (h/t to Keith Devlin for me, though no doubt many passed it around):

b)  And this one, because, well… koalas!:

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday-the-13th Math Potpourri

Your guess is as good as mine as to who Cult-leader Donald might fire first this weekend, but I plan to stay busy catching up on some math morsels:

1)  5 book recommendations for philosophy of mathematics:

2)   A little math history (of the “when-will-I-ever-use-this” form) about Huygens and Leibniz (h/t Evelyn Lamb):

3)  Math, physics, geometry, symmetry… via Kevin Hartnett:

4)  Wonderful interview with Cathy O’Neil on the need for “a hippocratic oath with teeth” in data science; very timely with current Facebook woes (unfortunately, at end, I don’t feel, and she does’t sound, all that optimistic :-/ ):

5)  A follow-up to John Cook’s earlier post that every positive integer is the sum of 3 palindromic numbers (I don’t know, is it a stretch to say this almost has a Fourier transform ‘feel’ to it?):

6)  Natalie Wolchover interviews statistician Donald Richards:

7)  Scott Aaronson on some recent progress regarding a couple of open problems:

8)  Andrew Gelman takes a social psychology study to task over ‘truth versus inference’:

9)  For more math-reads, a wonderful new “Carnival of Mathematics” from Theorem of the Day:

side-note... am currently reading "The Calculus Story" by David Acheson -- new, slim little volume, bought on a whim, but halfway in am enjoying it more than expected as a succinct, clear introduction to basic calculus concepts for the right student or layperson.

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

1)  Last weekend Krista Tippett replayed her delightful “On Being” episode (from a few years back) with Helen Fisher on love, sex, relationships, the human brain:

2)  Occasionally, believe-it-or-not, Twitter can help restore one's hope in humanity:

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Weird Math

A book blurb today. Usually I’ve heard/read some buzz about books I receive review copies of in the mail, and then have built-in expectations. Occasionally though a volume shows up I’ve heard nothing about, nor even seen the authors names before. “Weird Math” arrived recently as such a book. The authors, David Darling and Agnijo Banerjee are a science writer and math prodigy pair bringing forth another compendium of some of math’s most interesting/intriguing topics for a general readership. 
The subtitle for the book reads, “A teenage genius and his teacher reveal the strange connections between math and everyday life.” Many of the topics involve pure or abstract math, so I question whether readers will see the connection to “everyday life” in many instances, though that doesn’t detract from the appeal of the topics.  

The chapters generally get more complex or deeper as they go along, the final chapter being on Gödel’s work, and the subjects are ones often covered in this potpourri type of math book: dimensions, probability, chaos, infinity, prime numbers, AI, topology, paradoxes, number theory, proofs… Each chapter is more-or-less self-contained, though you may want to read them in order just to follow the progression from easier to tougher material, and I personally enjoyed the second half of the book more than the first half.

The volume’s style/format very much reminds me of Matt Parker’s wonderful/successful Things To Make and Do In the Fourth Dimension,” a favorite offering from 2014 (I don’t really like the title of either book, but that’s a minor side-note). Parker’s fun volume is a longer, more engaging, better-illustrated, and more mathematical read, with the added benefit of Parker’s British wit/humor! — I especially recommend it for young people already enticed by, and comfortable with, mathematics (also splendid for teachers). “Weird Math” is a perfectly satisfactory volume, especially to introduce the uninitiated to this set of curious math topics without the intrusion of very much required math. Also, it has one distinct advantage being new enough that it includes information missing in older volumes: for example, coverage of recent artificial intelligence news around chess, poker, and GO playing robots. Or in a chapter on large numbers it includes several much larger than ‘Graham’s number’ (which, perhaps in my ignorance, I still thought of as the "largest" number).

More and better illustrations and a livelier writing style would have made this volume a more enticing read (though it’s hard to compete against Matt Parker), but as is, it’s still a fine volume to add to your math library shelf or to introduce a young person (or layperson) to this set of always-intriguing math topics if they're not already familiar with them.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Soooo Much Winning...

While our Aryan President was busy (in-between rounds of golf) consulting with his ass-kissing, rubber-stamping sycophants, er I mean, staff, I toiled alone authoring another weekly math potpourri:

1)  Math as a bedrock to life… this is a few weeks old, but I only came across it last weekend:

2)  Mathematical proofs and the mind, via “Mathematics Rising”:

3) The Conversation” looks at prime numbers:

4)  Rock-paper-scissors and game theory via Patrick Honner and Quanta:

5)  Catch up with Evelyn Lamb via latest issue of her monthly newsletter:

…she also has a new post on books here:

6)  A simple tutorial on statistical correlation:

7)  Some in-the-classroom thoughts:

8)  Andrew Gelman’s post for April 1, was dead serious:

9)  In case you didn’t get enough math tomfoolery on April 1, Nalini Joshi pointed out this older page where you can get plenty more:

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

1)  ICYMI, there appear to be 1000s of black holes at the center of our Milky Way galaxy:

2)  And from Twitter, no idea what this is exactly, but felt the need to pass it on: