The Suan shu shu
(筭數書) is an ancient Chinese collection of writings on mathematics
discovered together with other texts
[Chinese, incl. image of bamboo slips from same excavation
] when in 1983 archaeologists opened a tomb at Zhangjiashan in Hubei believed closed in 186 BCE. Main link includes a downloadable full translation with commentary of this earliest extant Chinese work on mathematics by noted China scholar Dr Christopher Cullen
posted by Abiezer
on Sep 30, 2007 -
Fate, Absolute Life and Death, the Aleph, the Zeitgeist, the sinking of the Atlantis, the World Trade Center
, the formation of the universe...what more could you want from art? There's probably already been a been a post on this guy, Paul Laffoley, but I should hope more people could get a glance at some of this man's work
. Crazy or brilliant, you make your decision. A video
from his website.
posted by moonbizcut
on Aug 31, 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 -
Aptitude Schmaptitude! While the state of mathematical incompetence in this country has been much lamented, most famously in Paulos's brilliant 1988 book Innumeracy, it is still tacitly accepted . . . Being incompetent in math has become not only acceptable in this widely innumerate culture, it has almost become a matter of pride. No one
goes around showing off that he is illiterate, or has no athletic ability, but declarations of innumeracy are constantly made without any embarrassment or shame.
posted by jason's_planet
on May 3, 2007 -
Zelda and the Golden Ratio.
A fascinating examination of the music from Nintendo's Zelda games, and the recurring appearances of 0.618, the bisection point on a line at which the relationship of the shorter segment to the longer one is the same as that of the longer section to the whole line.
posted by jbickers
on Mar 7, 2007 -
Dr James Anderson, from the University of Reading's computer science department, claims to have defined what it means to divide by zero. It's so simple, he claims, that he's even taught it to high school students
[via Digg]. You just have to work with a new number he calls Nullity
(RealPlayer video). According to Anderson's site The Book of Paragon
, the creation, innovation, or discovery of nullity is a step toward describing a "perspective simplex, or perspex [ . . . ] a simple physical thing that is both a mind and a body." Anderson claims that Nullity permits the definition of transreal arithmetic
(pdf), a "total arithmetic . . . with no arithmetical exceptions," thus removing what the fictional dialogue No Zombies, Only Feelies?
identifies as the "homunculus problem" in mathematics: the need for human intervention to sort out "corner cases" which are not defined.
posted by treepour
on Dec 7, 2006 -
Grigory Perelman, awarded the Fields Medal for his work on the Poincare Conjecture, talks
to the New Yorker.
posted by Gyan
on Aug 29, 2006 -
The Zero Saga
contains a great deal of information about the concept of zero, and its relation to other numbers and concepts in mathematics. It was linked in Good Math, Bad Math
; which contains a variety of other informative articles on the numbers
that capture our imaginations
. (Note: You may want to skip past part 4 of the Zero Saga, as it contains replies to the site, and as such should probably be at the bottom of the page. But, to compensate, the comments on Good Math are better than most blogs I've read.)
posted by Eideteker
on Aug 3, 2006 -
Mapping the StarMaze
A tale of mathematical obsession: "Before I can explain my decades-long quest to map the starmaze I must acquaint you with a small puzzle...I have a habit of seeing everything (cities, organizations, computers, networks, brains) as a maze, so I named this puzzle the starmaze....The first problem I ran into was that there were a lot of rooms...I invented wacky names
for each room...But something funny happened...In that instant I finally grasped that the starmaze was arranged on the edges of a nine-dimensional hypercube
posted by vacapinta
on Jun 4, 2006 -
of Algebra: "Gabriela, sooner or later someone's going to tell you that algebra teaches reasoning. This is a lie propagated by, among others, algebra teachers.
posted by daksya
on Feb 16, 2006 -
"To avoide the tediouse repetition of these woordes: is equalle to: I will settle as I doe often in woorke use, a paire of paralleles, or gemowe lines of one lengthe: ======, bicause noe .2. thynges, can be moare equalle."
Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde (1510–1558) invented the equals sign
in his 1557 work The Whetstone of Witte
, which also introduced "Zenzizenzizenzic"
, the eighth power of a number. Recorde had advocated the + and – symbols in his 1540 work The Grounde of Artes
. He died in debtor's prison in 1558. Read, watch, or listen to a recent lecture
that links the equals sign to developments in art, navigation, and astronomy. (Wikipedia
posted by goatdog
on Dec 16, 2005 -