A math professor
was explaining a particularly complicated calculus concept to his class when a frustrated pre-med student interrupts him. "Why do we have to learn this stuff?" the pre-med blurts out. The professor pauses, and answers matter-of-factly: "Because math saves lives." "How?" demanded the student. "How on Earth does calculus save lives?" "Because," replied the professor, "it keeps certain people out of medical school."
posted by cthuljew
on Nov 9, 2008 -
is a series of challenging mathematical/computer programming problems that will require more than just mathematical insights to solve. Although mathematics will help you arrive at elegant and efficient methods, the use of a computer and programming skills will be required to solve most problems."
Started in 2001 as a sub-section of Maths Challenge
, it has since grown large enough to become its own entity. It now boasts over 200 problems, many of them insanely difficult. [more inside]
posted by mystyk
on Oct 13, 2008 -
Who is Alexander Grothendieck?
[PDF] This lecture is concerned not with Grothendieck's mathematics but with his very unusual life on the fringes of human society. In particular, there is, on the one hand, the question of why at the age of forty-two Grothendieck first of all resigned his professorship at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (IHES); then withdrew from mathematics completely; and finally broke off all connections to his colleagues, students, acquaintances, friends, as well as his own family, to live as a hermit in an unknown place. On the other hand, one would like to know what has occupied this restless and creative spirit since his withdrawal from mathematics.
posted by Wolfdog
on Aug 17, 2008 -
-- or as O'Reilly might term the Social Graph
-- sort of mirrors the debate on 'brute force' algorithmic proofs
(that are "true for no reason
.) in which "computers can extract patterns in this ocean of data that no human could ever possibly detect. These patterns are correlations. They may or may not be causative
, but we can learn new things. Therefore they accomplish what science does, although not in the traditional manner... In this part of science, we may get answers that work, but which we don't understand. Is this partial understanding? Or a different kind
?" Of course, say some in the scientific community: hogwash
; it's just a fabrication of scientifically/statistically illiterate pundits, like whilst new techniques in data analysis
are being developed to help keep ahead of the deluge...
posted by kliuless
on Jul 21, 2008 -
Whether you want to learn to lace shoes, tie shoelaces, stop shoelaces from coming undone, calculate shoelace lengths or even repair aglets, Ian's Shoelace Site
has the answer!
posted by Blazecock Pileon
on Jun 27, 2008 -
is a new CD being marketed to teachers that takes the beats from popular rap songs and rewrites them to the multiplication tables, with the intent of improving kids' math skills. Forbes has a nice roundup on it's history
, and NPR has done a featurette on it as well
At the very least, it's certainly worth a listen for the chuckle potential, but in addition to that, it's an interesting example of the now-booming Edutainment
industry, something that not only spans CD's
, but also computer games
and even standalone video game consoles
also, Smart Shorties is certainly not the only
"Hip-hop in the classroom" product out there, nor is it the first.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew
on Jun 8, 2008 -
On May 13, security advisories published by Debian
revealed that, for over a year, their OpenSSL libraries have had a major flaw in their CSPRNG
, which is used by key generation
functions in many widely-used applications, which caused the "random" numbers produced to be extremely predictable. [lolcat summary] [more inside]
posted by finite
on May 16, 2008 -
A new study in Science claims that teaching math is better done by teaching the abstract concepts rather than using concrete examples
. From an article
by the study authors in Science Mag (requires subscription):
If a goal of teaching mathematics is to produce knowledge that students can apply to multiple situations, then presenting mathematical concepts through generic instantiations, such as traditional symbolic notation, may be more effective than a series of "good examples." This is not to say that educational design should not incorporate contextualized examples. What we are suggesting is that grounding mathematics deeply in concrete contexts can potentially limit its applicability. Students might be better able to generalize mathematical concepts to various situations if the concepts have been introduced with the use of generic instantiations.
posted by peacheater
on Apr 26, 2008 -
If you could use a great big free handbook of discrete math and algorithms, Jörg Arndt's fxtbook
wants to be your friend. Plain text table of contents
to whet your appetite.
posted by Wolfdog
on Mar 5, 2008 -
No, I'm sorry, it does.
There are some arguments that never end. John or Paul? "Another thing coming" or "Another think coming?" But none has the staying power of "Is 0.999999...., with the 9s repeating forever, equal to 1?" A high school math teacher takes on all doubters. Round 2. Round 3. Refutations of some popular "They're not equal" arguments. Refutations, round 2.
You don't have to a mathematician to get in on the fun: .99999=1 discussed on a conspiracy theory website, an Ayn Rand website
(where it is accused to violating the "law of identity"), and a World of Warcraft forum.
But never, as far as I can tell, on MetaFilter.
posted by escabeche
on Sep 30, 2007 -
The Marquis de Condorcet
and Admiral Jean-Charles de Borda
were two men of the French Enlightenment who struggled with how to design voting systems that accurately reflected voters' preferences. Condorcet favored a method
that required the winner in a multiparty election to win a series of head-to-head contests, but he also discovered that his method easily led to a paradoxes
that produced no clear winners. The Borda method
avoids the Condorcet paradox by requiring voters to rank choices numerically in order of preference, but this method is flawed because the withdrawal of a last-place candidate can reverse the election results
. Mathematicians in the 19th century attempted to design better voting systems, including Lewis Carroll
, who favored an early form of proportional representation
. Economist Kenneth Arrow argued that designing a perfect voting system was futile, because his "impossibility theorem"
proved that it's impossible to design a non-dictatorial voting system that fulfills five basic criteria of fairness
. (more inside)
posted by jonp72
on Aug 27, 2007 -