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Mathematics and the Great Pyramid

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 - 42 comments

Monte Carlo

The year was 1945. Two earthshaking events took place: the successful test at Alamogordo and the building of the first electronic computer. Their combined impact was to modify qualitatively the nature of global interactions between Russia and the West. No less perturbative were the changes wrought in all of academic research and in applied science. On a less grand scale these events brought about a [renaissance] of a mathematical technique known to the old guard as statistical sampling; in its new surroundings and owing to its nature, there was no denying its new name of the Monte Carlo method (PDF). -N. Metropolis
Conceptually talked about on MeFi previously, some basic Monte Carlo methods include the Inverse Transform Method (PDF) mentioned in the quoted paper, Acceptance-Rejection Sampling (PDFs 1,2), and integration with and without importance sampling (PDF).
posted by JoeXIII007 on Dec 17, 2011 - 13 comments

Two PDFs about PDFs

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 - 17 comments

Applied Ultrafinitism OR Amending a Forgotten Parameter

S. Ekhad , E. Georgiadis, D. Zeilberger"How to Gamble If You're In a Hurry."  arXiv:1112.1645v1 (pdf), 7 Dec 2011. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Dec 14, 2011 - 3 comments

Putting a style in your crimp

Le Crimp (mostly en français) is a French collective that explores organic and abstract geometric [ I | II | III ] (PDFs) approaches to the art of origami. Read the white papers, browse the gallery or watch videos of artworks being made or being used in still-motion animations
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Nov 23, 2011 - 6 comments

That which does not kill us makes us stronger

> comp.basilisk - Frequently Asked Questions :: Is it just an urban legend that the first basilisk destroyed its creator?
Almost everything about the incident at the Cambridge IV supercomputer facility where Berryman conducted his last experiments has been suppressed and classified as highly undesirable knowledge. It's generally believed that Berryman and most of the facility staff died. Subsequently, copies of basilisk B-1 leaked out. This image is famously known as the Parrot for its shape when blurred enough to allow safe viewing. B-1 remains the favorite choice of urban terrorists who use aerosols and stencils to spray basilisk images on walls by night. But others were at work on Berryman's speculations...
[more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Nov 6, 2011 - 88 comments

Knotty Problems

Science through yarn: Wooly Thoughts. The Home of Mathematical Knitting, including knitted klein bottles and hyperbolic planes. The Museum of Scientifically Accurate Fabric Brain Art (previously). Much, much, more on knitting, crochet and quilting used to visualize complex theories in topology, probability, chaos and fractals. [more inside]
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Nov 6, 2011 - 8 comments

Jewish Problems

This is a special collection of problems that were given to select applicants during oral entrance exams to the math department of Moscow State University. These problems were designed to prevent Jews and other undesirables from getting a passing grade. (via Hacker News)
posted by veedubya on Oct 11, 2011 - 48 comments

Museum of Mathematics, NYC

Museum of Mathematics. To open in 2012 on 26th St. [more inside]
posted by skbw on Oct 6, 2011 - 32 comments

Creating the Future of Education and Work

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 - 49 comments

G.H. Hardy reviews Principia Mathematica

"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 - 29 comments

The mathematical sculptures of Henry Segerman

Henry Segerman creates mathematical sculptures using 3D printing: Round Möbius Strip, Hopf Fibration, Half of a 120-cell, Rectified Tesseract, Tesseract and 16-cell, Hilbert Curve, Knotted Cogs, Round Klein Bottle [more inside]
posted by Foci for Analysis on Sep 10, 2011 - 12 comments

I have a burning question, man.

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 - 42 comments

What is up with Noises? (SLYT)

What is up with Noises? A fascinating explanation of why we hear sounds and music the way we do. It's a long video, but it's worth it!
posted by fzx101 on Aug 25, 2011 - 37 comments

Math interview podcast

Strongly Connected Components is a podcast of interviews with mathematicians. Hear complexity theorist Scott Aaronson (of Shtetl-Optimized), Tom Henderson (of Punk Mathematics) algebraist Olga Holtz of UC-Berkeley, master combinatorist Richard Stanley of MIT, and many more.
posted by escabeche on Aug 5, 2011 - 5 comments

Technically elegant but nearly forgotten

Ron Doerfler's Dead Reckonings - Lost Art in the Mathematical Sciences is a collection of essays, in weblog format, on historical techniques in mathematical sciences, antique scientific instruments and other related topics. [more inside]
posted by tykky on Aug 1, 2011 - 21 comments

Beaded Beads

Beaded PolyhedraMore beadwork (mathematical and otherwise) by Gwen Fisher ❂ Still more beadwork galleries at beAdinfinitumThree-dimensional finite point groups and the symmetry of beaded beads [pdf - some algebra, but lots of illustrations]
posted by Wolfdog on Jul 19, 2011 - 6 comments

i + e = δ

144 sites for online education. Categories include science and health, business and money, history and culture, law, computer science, mathematics, and languages. [more inside]
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Jul 18, 2011 - 19 comments

Then you wouldn't have to say "QED", 'cause I'd already know

A thread full of proofs without words at MathOverflow and quite a lot more of them courtesy of Google Books.
posted by Wolfdog on Jul 18, 2011 - 22 comments

Transcendental Music

Happy Tau Day! τ (2 × π, that is, 6.28...) is the number of radians in a turn. Translating the digits to notes even makes beautiful music. (By comparison, what pi sounds like). Previously.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Jun 28, 2011 - 37 comments

What is the title of this post?

92 years young, the delightful Raymond Smullyan is a mathematician, logician, magician, concert pianist, and Taoist philosopher - who also pioneered retrograde chess problems.
posted by Trurl on Jun 26, 2011 - 22 comments

Microsoft Mathematics CAS

Microsoft Mathematics 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 - 56 comments

Is teacher evaluation statistical voodoo?

"Value-added modeling is promoted because it has the right pedigree -- because it is based on "sophisticated mathematics." As a consequence, mathematics that ought to be used to illuminate ends up being used to intimidate." John Ewing, president of Math for America and former executive director of the American Mathematical Society, criticizes the "value-added modeling" approach used as a proxy for teacher quality, most famously in a Los Angeles Times story that called out low-scoring teachers by name. A Brookings Institution paper says value-added modeling is flawed but the best measure we have of teacher value, arguing that the metric's wide fluctuations from year to year are no worse than those of batting averages in baseball. (Though the weakness of that correlation is mostly a BABIP issue.) Can we assign a numerical value to teacher quality? If so, how?
posted by escabeche on Apr 27, 2011 - 62 comments

Not a cryptic FPP

Vortex-based mathematics is the most advanced ever known to mankind. Don't have time for a time cube? Time need no longer limit us. Here, Marco Rodin (inventor of the Rodin Coil) gives us the background.
posted by Obscure Reference on Apr 27, 2011 - 45 comments

Nature Special Issue on the Future of the PhD

Mark Taylor. Reform the PhD system or close it down. Nature 472, 261 (2011) [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Apr 26, 2011 - 54 comments

Villians spotted at Melbourne University!

The annual Melbourne University Puzzle Hunt is back - and this time they need your help fending off villians with your puzzle-solving abilities. Anyone from anywhere in the world can compete in teams of 1 to 10 people (or you can see the puzzles for yourself and play at home). [more inside]
posted by divabat on Apr 10, 2011 - 7 comments

Dear NASA, Your Mom thought I was big enough. Love, Pluto

Following in the footsteps of prestigious publications like the Annals of Improbable Research, NCBI ROFL, Rejecta Mathematica, the Journal of Universal Rejection, and the Journal of Unpublished Results, comes the Journal of Are You Fucking Kidding. Previous, previously, and previouslier. h/t to Retraction Watch
posted by Minus215Cee on Apr 4, 2011 - 15 comments

J programming language

The J programming language is kind of like a super calculator (it’s been described as executable mathematical notation). It was developed by Ken Iverson and Roger Hui and is a successor to APL (and there’s no need to buy a new keyboard). The language is free and open source, and works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. A series of books and articles on using J are also available to download. To whet your appetite, here’s an article on using J to find the eighth ten-digit prime number that appears among the digits of pi.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear on Mar 26, 2011 - 79 comments

MathML and LaTeX users rejoice

"MathJax is an open source JavaScript display engine for mathematics that works in all modern browsers." Displaying math and equations in web pages has been a pretty consistent problem. MathJax allows you to use either MathML or TeX/LaTeX as input and then formats it into beautiful, scalable HTML.
posted by Deathalicious on Mar 14, 2011 - 24 comments

pi-winning

Happy half-τ day! What's a half-τ? You know it as π, but π is wrong. (via)
posted by DU on Mar 14, 2011 - 100 comments

Talking fast and making cool videos does not mean learning is happening

So you're me and you're in math class and you're learning about graph theory, a subject too interesting to be included in most grade school's curricula so maybe you're in some special program or maybe you're in college and were somehow not scarred for life by your grade school math teachers. [more inside]
posted by achmorrison on Feb 22, 2011 - 32 comments

Finite formula found for partition numbers

New math theories reveal the nature of numbers [1,2] - "We prove that partition numbers are 'fractal' for every prime. These numbers, in a way we make precise, are self-similar in a shocking way. Our 'zooming' procedure resolves several open conjectures, and it will change how mathematicians study partitions." (/.|via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 22, 2011 - 45 comments

Explorations of a Recreational Mathematician

Let's say you're me and you're in math class, and you're supposed to be learning about factoring. Trouble is, your teacher is too busy trying to convince you that factoring is a useful skill for the average person to know with real-world applications ranging from passing your state exams all the way to getting a higher SAT score and unfortunately does not have the time to show you why factoring is actually interesting. It's perfectly reasonable for you to get bored in this situation. So like any reasonable person, you start doodling. [more inside]
posted by ErWenn on Dec 3, 2010 - 27 comments

Teen Mathletes Do Battle at Algorithm Olympics

In today's example of kids smarter than you and I, Wired follows the exploits of two teens competing at the International Olympiad in Informatics.
posted by reenum on Dec 2, 2010 - 14 comments

A Brief History of Mathematics

A Brief History of Mathematics is a BBC series of ten fifteen-minute podcasts by Professor Marcus du Sautoy about the history of mathematics from Newton and Leibniz to Nicolas Bourbaki, the pseudonym of a group of French 20th Century mathematicians. Among those covered by Professor du Sautoy are Euler, Fourier and Poincaré. The podcasts also include short interviews with people such as Brian Eno and Roger Penrose.
posted by Kattullus on Dec 1, 2010 - 11 comments

from complexity, universality

A brief tour of the mysteriously universal laws of mathematics and nature. [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Oct 24, 2010 - 33 comments

Logical literacy is essential to mathematical fluency.

Logical literacy is an awareness and understanding of the metalanguage in which propositions, conjectures, lemmas and theorems are written.
posted by jjray on Oct 12, 2010 - 44 comments

Q to the E to the D

Futurama has always been a haven for geek humor, but last week's episode "The Prisoner of Benda" pushed things to the next level. First hinted at in an American Physical Society interview with showrunner David X. Cohen (previously), staff writer and mathematics Ph.D. Ken Keeler devised a novel mathematical proof based on group theory to resolve the logic puzzle spawned by the episode's brain-swapping (but no backsies!) conceit. Curious how it works? Read the proof (in the show or in plain text), then see it in action using this handy chart. Too much math for a lazy Sunday? Then entertain your brain with lengthy clips from the episode -- including two of the funniest moments in the series in the span of two minutes.
posted by Rhaomi on Aug 22, 2010 - 130 comments

That Was the This Week's Finds That Was

The 300th issue of This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics will be the last. It is not an exaggeration to say that when John Baez started publishing TWF in 1993, he invented the science blog, and an (academic) generation has now grown up reading his thoughts on higher category theory, zeta functions, quantum gravity, crazy pictures of roots of polynomials, science fiction, and everything else that can loosely be called either "mathematical" or "physics." Baez continues to blog actively at n-category cafe and the associated nLab (an intriguingly fermented commune of mathematicians, physicists, and philosophers.) He is now starting a new blog, Azimuth, "centered around the theme of what scientists can do to help save the planet."
posted by escabeche on Aug 14, 2010 - 17 comments

Complex matters for the millenium

I am pleased to announce a proof that P is not equal to NP. In this paper, Vinay Deolalikar (HP Labs) proposes a proof to answer the most important problem in its field of mathematics. [more inside]
posted by knz on Aug 8, 2010 - 113 comments

The Philosophers' Game

Rithmomachia: the Philosophers' Game. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jun 28, 2010 - 14 comments

Pixel Pickle

Editors of the pop-culture magazine Wired provided the title "iPhone 4’s ‘Retina’ Display Claims Are False Marketing" to a highly critical article about the new iPhone's high-resolution "Retina" display, so-called as the human eye cannot resolve individual pixels when viewing it. A technician who worked on the Hubble telescope disagreed with the Wired editors' choice of rhetoric in very strong technical terms and issued less stringent disagreement with Raymond Soneira, the writer of the piece. Neuroscientist and photographer Bryan Jones published his own highly readable technical analysis of the display's pixel arrangement, that helped him decide whether Apple's claims were truthful or not.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Jun 26, 2010 - 64 comments

R.I.P. Arnol'd

The great[pdf] Russian mathematican Vladimir Igorevich Arnol'd, foremost modern practitioner of classical mechanics, influential teacher, namesake of a minor planet, and semi-nude cross-country skier has died.
posted by ennui.bz on Jun 11, 2010 - 10 comments

Magic numbers: A meeting of mathemagical tricksters

"Gary Foshee, a collector and designer of puzzles from Issaquah near Seattle walked to the lectern to present his talk. It consisted of the following three sentences: "I have two children. One is a boy born on a Tuesday. What is the probability I have two boys?"" [more inside]
posted by andoatnp on May 25, 2010 - 233 comments

Sentimental dynamics

Mathematical model explains marital breakups.
posted by twoleftfeet on May 18, 2010 - 20 comments

I don't know much about math, but I know what I like.

Plus magazine has compiled all their articles on mathematics and the arts into one handy-dandy page full of highly enjoyable articles ranging from limericks and screeching violins to the restoration of frescoes.
posted by Wolfdog on May 16, 2010 - 3 comments

Teaching and caring are inextricably linked. But: only one of them is difficult.

Dan Meyer is a high school math teacher with a clever idea: make math about the real world. On his blog, he writes about classroom management, the real skills of teaching, labels, information design, and assessment.
posted by l33tpolicywonk on May 14, 2010 - 30 comments

Digital Library of Mathematical Functions

Since its first printing in 1964, Abramowitz and Stegun's Handbook of Mathematical Functions has been a standard (and public domain) reference manual for special functions and applied mathematics. This week, NIST released its successor, the Digital Library of Mathematical Functions, online to the public.
posted by Upton O'Good on May 13, 2010 - 29 comments

If politicians were mathematicians

If politicians were mathematicians. "I would like to suggest two systems for parliamentary votes, one that would weaken the party system but without killing it off entirely, and one that would protect large minorities. Neither has the slightest chance of being adopted, because they are both too complicated to be taken seriously. But mathematicians wouldn’t find them complicated at all — hence the title of this post." Fields medalist Tim Gowers messes around with political axioms.
posted by escabeche on May 12, 2010 - 18 comments

The quantum mechanics of the waggle dance.

Mathematician Barbara Shipman speculates that a honey bee's sense of the quantum world could be as important to their perception of the world as sight, sound or smell: "the mathematics implies that bees are doing something with quarks."
posted by jardinier on May 7, 2010 - 46 comments

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