...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, May 25, 2018

Yet Another Friday Math-mix

Neither I nor Donald Trump were invited to the big wedding last weekend; Donald stayed busy dismantling America, while I busied myself working on a fresh math potpourri:

1)   Richard Guy, still working and interviewed at age 100:

2)  Excerpt from Deborah Mayo’s upcoming book on statistics’ “severe testing”:

3) White rabbits”… Pat Ballew reruns (and updates) a post he originally wrote 10 years ago:
(…a reminder, me-thinkest, of how timeless, interesting mathematics is)

4)  Of Math Men, Mad Men, and the rest of us via the New Yorker:

5)  Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! Ben Orlin has a book forthcoming (it may be short on plot and character-development, but I hereby advise buying a few copies anyway):

6)  58 authors urge the axing of p-value thresholds in research papers:

7)  Meanwhile, I took note of a few books on my radar at Math-Frolic yesterday:

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

Just a few favorite recent tweets:

A little Duchess of Sussex back story:

A tweet for Paul Simon fans:

And if you enjoy podcasts in general, LOTS of good recommendations here:

Friday, May 18, 2018

Friday Potpourri

Maybe this week’s viral Laurel/Yanny episode can finally help explain how it is that some people listening to a certain Donald hear a purported President speak, while others more correctly hear a venal Demagogue blathering. 
...In any event, a new Friday potpourri:

1)  Michael Harris, interesting as always, on the uses and responsibilities of mathematics:

2)  The 157th “Carnival of Mathematics” here:

3)  Again, a hint of linkage between prime number patterns and physics (via Natalie Wolchover and Quanta):

4)  More physics than math, but I’ll still include it here… The winning essay in FQXi’s latest essay contest asking “”What Is fundamental?”:

All the runner-up essays HERE.

5)  Patrick Honner reflects on the story of his journey in mathematics for Story Collider:

6)  Jim Propp’s latest, for geometry and Madeleine L’Engle fans, on “Time and Tesseracts”:

7)  Walt Hickey is leaving FiveThirtyEight to begin his own daily newsletter, “Numlock,” highlighting "the context and importance of the numbers you read about in the news”:

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

1)  Hey Arachnophobes… don’t kill spiders:

2)  Will just close out the week, as seems appropriate, by rising up off my Laurels to post a favorite old Yanni tune:

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A Few Potpourri Housekeeping Changes

To slightly streamline my own blogging time am making a few changes to the 'Friday Potpourri' that perhaps readers ought be apprised of (way back I originally conceived of the potpourri as a compendium of slightly off-the-beaten-track math bits, and ever since reading/enjoying David Wells’ quirky “Book of Curious and Interesting Mathematics have thought of attempting more of that):

I will no longer routinely include some of the best-known, most prolific/frequent and favorite math writers out there for the Friday listings on the assumption that readers are already following them, and it may be redundant for me to cite them on Friday if they are already well-linked to. (they will still be in my Twitter feed and sometimes in Math-Frolic posts). 

Similarly, the growing arena of videos and podcasts is beyond what I can keep up with and hope readers have by now latched onto their favorites. I continue to love 3Blue1Brown, Mathologer, Numberphile, Infinite Series, and others, but won’t automatically cite them on Fridays, since they get plenty of buzz without me piling on (I may call attention to newer/lesser-known ones that come along).

Statistics (and research methodology) is such a significant branch of math these days that I may(?) continue to cite some of Andrew Gelman’s very prolific posts, because he is so often accessible to a general audience and is one of only a handful of statisticians I follow regularly. 

And I WILL continue to cite, on Fridays, bloggers who, while well-known, are less prolific (generally posting once or less per month). I may also continue to cite pieces from Quanta Magazine which, even though now widely-cited, derive from a stable of fantastic writers, no one of whom is all that frequent (again though, if say an Erica Klarreich post comes out on Tues. and by Friday I've seen it cited innumerable times, I may assume readers here don't need me mentioning it).

All of this will allow me to spend slightly less time on the potpourri, keep it perhaps a little briefer and less redundant, focusing on interesting pieces readers may actually have missed through the week over pieces that get extensively publicized across social media.
None of these are hard-and-fast rules, but just new rough guidelines.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Some Miscellaneous Stuff From the Week

Friday may be money-laundering day at the White House, but at MathTango it’s math-potpourri day. 
(…when I can find time I’ll explain a few changes I’m making to the Friday potpourri):

1)  Possibly a good thread for teachers to contemplate:

2)  Somewhat related, a few, brief teaching “meta-lessons” from Kalid Azad:

3)  Some tidbits from John Cook this week:

“Robust Statistics”:

…applications of “Benford’s Law”:

4)  Not sure exactly why I find palindromic numbers interesting but I do, and Gary Davis has been referencing them lately:
…also, this OEIS entry:

5)  “Robinson Tiles”… some quirkiness from Futility Closet:

6)  Just a little Elon Musk commentary from a statistician… I’m constantly amazed by both Musk’s performance(s) and the opposing viewpoints of him:

7)  ICYMI, my post last weekend that Patrick Honner later pointed out to me was especially appropriate for this official Teacher Appreciation Week:

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

1)  Errol Morris, Hilary Putnam, Noam Chomsky, Thomas Kuhn… interesting piece for the philosophically-inclined:

2)  The still-interesting-at-94 Freeman Dyson, via John Horgan:

…while I’m at it, many tributes to Feynman this week of his 100th birthday (here are 2):
From Tom Siegfried:

3)  Finally, h/t to Derren Brown for passing this incredible bit along:

And this fellow has a YouTube channel here:

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Teachers In Our Lives

                            "Reach out and touch someone...
                                              -- old AT&T ad slogan

I attended (long enough ago that a 50-year reunion is coming up!) a private secondary school where the phrase “in loco parentis” was oft-discussed. In case any don’t know, it translates to ‘in place of the parent’ which carried one meaning, or at least set of applications, for our school administrators, and rather different interpretations favored by we students. At a private boarding school teachers/administrators, as the primary adults that students see each-and-every day, really must take on the partial role of substitute parent. But even in the public school system almost all students will experience at least a few teachers who partly play that role.

I won’t claim that I had very many teachers who had a strong or major impact on my life or career, but there were probably a couple. Moreover, there were teachers who even without impacting my career I simply enjoyed learning from; who made education what it should be: something to relish and look forward to.
Two years ago in an idle moment I looked up my favorite teacher from 7th grade on the internet only to discover he had just passed away a few months prior.  I think at the time I had him for class he knew how much I enjoyed him… but in the 50+ years since I had no contact with him.
I look back now with some regret of how few of these educators I ever re-touched base with after taking their class; and the few I did, how infrequently; realizing only later in life how much it probably meant to them to hear positively from former students; even just a small note of appreciation, a Christmas card, a phone call, an acknowledgement that they were fondly remembered or had an impact…

I bring this all up now because of a poignant, personal entry Patrick Honner posted about a recent experience he had relating to the challenge of teaching and the "constant struggle to find... the balance between expectations and patience; between being tough and being understanding; between pushing a young person and letting them be":

...And one of the reasons I savor (and suspect we all do!) Fawn Nguyen’s writings about teaching, is because of the love for her students that shines through her musings (even when she's employing 4-letter words!), and that delicate dance teachers do between being teacher/parent/friend/disciplinarian, pulling students in close while still maintaining a distance… and never knowing if, once they leave your school, you will ever hear from them again.
Almost exactly 4 years ago I had occasion to ask Fawn (via email) what her favorite post on her blog was and she cited one. I don’t know for sure if 4 years later it’s still her top pick, and until the very end it doesn’t even have that much to do with the teacher/student relationship, but it’s still one I’ll offer up here (and if you can reach the end without a tear in your eye, well….):

Finally, I’m reminded too of a favorite timeless volume occasionally touted here for any who have missed it:  Steve Strogatz’s “The Calculus of Friendship,” about his lifetime relationship with a high school math teacher; on one level based upon a shared love of calculus, but of course at a different level much more (…and by the way there’s real math in it as well).

Anyway, readers here probably all know of Patrick, Fawn, and Steve… I don’t need to draw any more attention their way. What I do hope to do though is maybe make you think, amidst this season of graduations, about the teachers in your own lives who were somehow special or inspiring or supportive, who perhaps parented you along the way a bit even if you only realized it much later.  Get in touch, let them know, drop an email; it’s only too late if they pass from this Earth never knowing.


Addendum:  In a bit of coincidence, Patrick Honner informs me that (unbeknownst to me) this week is national “Teacher Appreciation Week” ….sometimes the world operates in mysterious ways ;)

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Friday Mixed-bag...

Am trying something ever-so-slightly different this week and next, for the potpourri (you may well notice no difference), and will explain later, if I decide to make the change permanent.
In any event, with or without any changes, you have assurances from my personal physician Vinnie Boom-Bornstein, that this blog will continue to be “astonishingly excellent,” and he also notes that at a slim & trim 6’6” and 175 lbs. of taut, lean, striated musculature I am likely the healthiest blogger in the blog-o-sphere (though adding a little Propecia to my daily routine might be in order)….

1)  Some math inspiration:

2)  Always interesting how certain math puzzles go viral:

3)  A few recent stats items from Thomas Lumley:

4) The Fluency of Geometry” from “Mathematics Rising”:

5)  2015 stats on math majors:

6)  I dare you to ask what Graham’s Number equals:

7)  Keith Devlin once again fleshing out math-understanding versus math-calculating:

8)  A nice tribute to Stan Ulam:

9) “Robust perfect adaptation”… perhaps the math behind the biology of cells:

10)  Kevin Hartnett on zeta values and mirror symmetry:

11)  A couple dozen math jokes that, surprisingly, were mostly new to me:

12)  "The Incredible Palindromic Hat-trick" from Christian Lawson-Perfect:

13)  WHOOOOAAA!!!:
(WWRD... What Would Riemann Do with this!? ;)

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

1)  Last weekend, NPR’s “On Being re-played the episode with near-poetic physicist Carl Rovelli:

2)  Strictly for you cat-lovers out there, a favorite tweet from the week: