Robert MacPherson interviewed
as part of the Simons Foundation's Science Lives
series. MacPherson is among the founders of the modern theory of singularities
, points like a kink in a curve where the geometry of a space stops being smooth and starts behaving badly. In the interview, MacPherson talks about cultural differences between math and music, his frustration with high school math, growing up gay in the South and life as a gay man in the scientific community, smuggling $23,000 in cash into post-Soviet Russia to help mathematicians there keep the lights on, catastrophe theory, perverse sheaves, how to be a successful graduate student, stuttering, and of course the development of the intersection homology theory for which he is most well-known.
posted by escabeche
on Sep 12, 2012 -
Morton and Vicary on the Categorified Heisenberg Algebra
- "In quantum mechanics, position times momentum does not equal momentum times position! This sounds weird, but it's connected to a very simple fact. Suppose you have a box with some balls in it, and you have the magical ability to create and annihilate balls. Then there's one more way to create a ball and then annihilate one, than to annihilate one and then create one. Huh? Yes: if there are, say, 3 balls in the box to start with, there are 4 balls you can choose to annihilate after you've created one but only 3 before you create one..." [more inside]
posted by kliuless
on Jul 21, 2012 -
Free online graph paper generators: variations of squares
, triangle, rhombus, and hexagonal
, circular and polar
, for drawing, gaming, writing, note-taking
and much more
. Blank Sheet Music
(Flash) for all arrangements
(PDF). Create and edit your own grids
and logarithmic graphs
, petri-dish inserts
. Also, multilingual monthly
and yearly calendars
. Plus, more than you ever wanted to know about ISO paper dimensions
and printable paper models of polyhedra
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul
on May 28, 2012 -
The trend of mathematics and physics towards unification provides the physicist with a powerful new method of research into the foundations of his subject, a method which has not yet been applied successfully, but which I feel confident will prove its value in the future. The method is to begin by choosing that branch of mathematics which one thinks will form the basis of the new theory. One should be influenced very much in this choice by considerations of mathematical beauty.
 [more inside]
posted by smcg
on Apr 28, 2012 -
The Hacker Shelf
is nice crowd-sourced guide to (legally) free books on various computational and mathematical subjects. The topics
page gives you an idea of the breadth of material available.
posted by philipy
on Mar 15, 2012 -
What is the minimal number of clues necessary to create a uniquely solvable Sudoku puzzle? It turns out to be 17
, though it took fancy symmetry arguments and nearly a year of computer time to prove it. But no need to read the paper when you can watch the video.
posted by Obscure Reference
on Mar 14, 2012 -
This is a radical statement about the Pyramid, especially on the internet because all web pages that I have been able to find that deal with the Pyramid, maintain that it was built and/or inspired by either God or space aliens. Most don't even consider that it could be a rational structure designed and built by normal people.
posted by troll
on Dec 30, 2011 -
An "Exciting Guide to Probability Distributions" from the University of Oxford: part 1
, part 2
. (Two links to PDFs)
posted by JoeXIII007
on Dec 15, 2011 -
In February 2011, every teacher in Providence, Rhode Island was pink slipped. Not all 1,926 of them got fired, of course, but with the district facing a $40 million deficit, anything is possible. The district says it needs flexibility, just in case. Every school district in the United States faces its own version of what’s happening in Providence. However, “IMAGINATION: Creating the Future of Education and Work
” is focused not on how we got here but rather how we can move forward from here immediately even as the education system continues to struggle. [more inside]
posted by netbros
on Sep 15, 2011 -
"Perhaps twenty or thirty people in England may be expected to read this book."
G.H. Hardy's review of Whitehead and Russell's Principia Mathematica
, published in the Times Literary Supplement 100 years ago last week. "The time has passed when a philosopher can afford to be ignorant of mathematics, and a little perseverance will be well rewarded. It will be something to learn how many of the spectres that have haunted philosophers modern mathematics has finally laid to rest."
posted by escabeche
on Sep 12, 2011 -
Before it was a website, Ask A Mathematician / Ask A Physicist was two guys sitting in the desert at Burning Man, presuming to answer (almost) any question that happened to occur to whomever happened to appear at our stand. [more inside]
posted by Obscure Reference
on Aug 27, 2011 -
is a free Computer Algebra System
(CAS) available from Microsoft. A CAS is a program
that can solve purely symbolic mathematical equations. For example, the program can tell you that the derivative of 6x^2 + 12x is 12x + 12. The program has functions for calculus, statistics, linear algebra, and graphing. One interesting feature of the program is that in some cases it can show and describe the intermediate steps involved in solving an equation. Here’s a 16 page tutorial
(in MS Word docx format) showing how to use the program. The program can be downloaded from the Microsoft download page
. Thirty-two and sixty-four bit versions are available. The program only works on XP/Vista/Windows 7.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear
on May 23, 2011 -