369 posts tagged with Mathematics.
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MacTutor History of Mathematics archive

The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive is an astounding collection of historical material on mathematics, especially biographies. (Previously: 1 2 3 4.)
posted by parudox on Feb 28, 2009 - 5 comments

A vote for "The Indefatigable Frog" is a vote for posterity.

"Do you like fiction and mathematics? Are you interested in what our society thinks about mathematicians?" [more inside]
posted by Minus215Cee on Feb 27, 2009 - 15 comments

Homework Helper

World of Science contains budding encyclopedias of astronomy, scientific biography, chemistry, and physics. This resource has been assembled over more than a decade by internet encyclopedist Eric Weisstein with assistance from the internet community. MeFi visited Weisstein's Mathworld a couple years ago.
posted by netbros on Feb 18, 2009 - 6 comments

Real mathematics is (or at least should be) algorithmic. The axiomatic method is like machine language or a Turing machine or a Tuxedo. It is very stifling.

One night, very late, I was browsing the internet, using my current computer, Shalosh B. Ekhad, III. I was searching for "Ekhad". All of a sudden, to my amazement, I chanced on a website whose last update was Sept. 30, 2050, and found this little Elementary Geometry textbook. This text may seem a bit strange to 2001 humans. It appears that there are no proofs, only statements, in Maple, using English-based names for the definitions and theorems. But THE STATEMENT IS THE PROOF, ready to be run on Maple, that will output "true" if the proof-statement is correct, and "false" otherwise. [more inside]
posted by orthogonality on Feb 18, 2009 - 42 comments

All Things Mathematical

Somewhere between 538 and xkcd, Ask Doctor Math is an advice column for practical math questions. [more inside]
posted by piers on Feb 16, 2009 - 25 comments

The Spherical Wave Structure of Matter in Space

On Truth and Reality. Despite several thousand years of failure to correctly understand physical reality (hence the current postmodern view that this is impossible) it is actually very simple to work out how matter exists and moves about in Space. The rules of Science (Occam's Razor / Simplicity) and Metaphysics (Dynamic Unity of Reality) require that reality be described from only one single source existing, as Leibniz wrote: "because of the interconnection of all things with one another." [more inside]
posted by netbros on Jan 30, 2009 - 46 comments

Exponential, what it do?

Division: Work it out! - these girls be spittin the math.
posted by madamjujujive on Jan 17, 2009 - 40 comments

You and Your Research

You and Your Research was a talk given by Richard Hamming in 1986. Read it if you have an interest in doing first-class work.
posted by parudox on Jan 4, 2009 - 24 comments

art and science folded together

MetaFilter's Eric Gjerde has just come out with a book, Origami Tessellations: Awe-Inspiring Geometric Designs. Eric also makes really unusual, complex and mathematically interesting origami. His site has all kinds of cool things to look at and explore, like Owen Jones' The Grammar of Ornament, Joel Cooper's amazing paper sculptures and Ernst Haeckel's awesome book, Kunst-Formen der Natur. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Dec 16, 2008 - 8 comments

Droste Effect Video

You might have seen the Droste Effect before, perhaps even the animated version. But here's a new iteration - a music video.
posted by le morte de bea arthur on Nov 25, 2008 - 28 comments

you really should watch this.

Hunting the Hidden Dimension. You may be familiar with fractals, but in this PBS Nova episode, divided online into 5 parts, fractals go beyond the impossible zoom of the Mandelbrot set. Scientists are using fractals to describe complex natural occurrences, like lava, capillaries, and rain forests. In part 5, scientists measure one tree in the rain forests, and the distribution of small and large branches mirror the distribution of small and large trees. Fractals, it seems, are nature.
posted by plexi on Nov 2, 2008 - 43 comments

Data-Driven Enhancement of Facial Attractiveness

Data-Driven Enhancement of Facial Attractiveness
posted by phrontist on Sep 8, 2008 - 39 comments

Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth

Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth. How children learn (or: don't learn) math today. [more inside]
posted by davar on Sep 6, 2008 - 130 comments

Seeing in four dimensions

Mathematicians create videos that help in visualizing four-dimensional objects. Science News writes about it: seeing in four dimensions.
posted by Surfin' Bird on Aug 24, 2008 - 26 comments

Who is Alexander Grothendieck?

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 - 31 comments

It's more free maths!

Online Encyclopedia of Mathematics Edited by Michiel Hazewinkel (CWI, Amsterdam), and originaly published in dead tree form in 2002, now free to browse and poke into. [more inside]
posted by Iosephus on Aug 2, 2008 - 7 comments

Bite me, Larry Summers.

No gender differences found in math performance. None. Not on average, at least in countries where the sexes are treated equally. And no, not at the highest, outlier levels of mathematical ability, either, despite what some believe. And not in number of undergrad math degrees earned. And not in terms of complex problem solving ability. Just plain not.
posted by kyrademon on Jul 24, 2008 - 103 comments

Rock the streets

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 - 22 comments

A "Harmonious" Path

Accidental Astrophysicists: "They started with algebra and ended up learning about gravitational lensing (PDF)." [Via linkfilter]
posted by homunculus on Jun 17, 2008 - 22 comments

A Woolen Reef

The hyperbolic crochet coral reef has come to London. [more inside]
posted by chuckdarwin on Jun 17, 2008 - 14 comments


The Reality Tests. "A team of physicists in Vienna has devised experiments that may answer one of the enduring riddles of science: Do we create the world just by looking at it?"
posted by homunculus on Jun 4, 2008 - 82 comments

Behind Door Number One...

The Monty Hall Problem has struck again, and this time it’s not merely embarrassing mathematicians. If the calculations of a Yale economist are correct, there’s a sneaky logical fallacy in some of the most famous experiments in psychology." The NY Times' John Tierney reports on new research into cognitive dissonance as examined through the famous Monty Hall Problem. [A previous MetaFilter thread about the Monty Hall Problem: Let's Make A Deal!]
posted by amyms on Apr 8, 2008 - 119 comments

Would you like to play a game?

Fun and games with mathematics and mathematical puzzles (e.g. heart basket, Rubik's Cube, Rubik's Magic, hypercubes, and more) in both English and (with yet more content in) German.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Feb 18, 2008 - 6 comments

Adventures in Balrog Math

Some Thoughts On Balrogs.
posted by homunculus on Feb 15, 2008 - 45 comments

Cut The Knot

Interactive mathematics miscellany and puzzles, including 75 proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem, an interactive column using Java applets, and eye-opening demonstrations. (Actually, much more.)
posted by parudox on Dec 1, 2007 - 11 comments


From Ants to People, an Instinct to Swarm. Carl Zimmer looks at the work of Iain Couzin. [Via The Loom.]
posted by homunculus on Nov 13, 2007 - 17 comments

The Pope with the Robotic Head

Gerbert D'Aurillac: mathemetician and engineer, Pope, ghost, and meddler with dark forces. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Nov 1, 2007 - 17 comments

Why did Sumerians use base 60 mathematics?

An hour has 60 minutes and a minute has 60 seconds because the Sumerians used a base 60 counting system. Why 60? A plausible explanation is that they could count to 12 with one hand, and to 60 with both hands. Alternate explanations from the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive.
posted by russilwvong on Oct 21, 2007 - 47 comments

Exotic Names for Exotic Shapes.

The Johnson Solids are a set of 92 semi-regular polyhedra, all of which are uniquely named and numbered. Except for the familiar square pyramid they all have exotic names like the Hebesphenomegacorona. A Hebesphenomegacorona in space. Number 26, the Gyrobifastigium, is unique in that if copies of itself are properly stacked together they will leave no gaps, thus making it the only space filling Johnson Solid.
posted by Tube on Oct 3, 2007 - 28 comments

Writings on Reckoning

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 - 9 comments

Life is complex: it has both real and imaginary components

More than fifty selected articles from The Princeton Companion of Mathematics (username: Guest, password: PCM) — a thematically-organized compendium of mathematics and mathematicians from Fields Medal-winner Tim Gowers. [via, previously]
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Sep 27, 2007 - 8 comments

A Map of the Cat

Richard P. Feynman { Information Junkie PhD Atomic Bomber Professor/Lecturer on Physics + Mathematical Artist [DIY] + Nanotech Knowledgist 33.3% Nobel laureate + QEDynamic Speaker + Tiny Machinist + Challenger of Conclusions + Best-Selling WriterXBusted [outside Tuva] Star Trek TNG Shuttlecraft Pepsi Black/Blue U.S. Postage Stamp }
posted by Poolio on Sep 16, 2007 - 51 comments

driven mad by paradoxes

Dangerous Knowledge, BBC. In this one-off documentary, David Malone looks at four brilliant mathematicians - Georg Cantor, Ludwig Boltzmann, Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing - whose genius has profoundly affected us, but which tragically drove them insane and eventually led to them all committing suicide.
posted by nickyskye on Sep 4, 2007 - 39 comments

art with a lot of concept

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 - 24 comments

Mathematics vs. Democracy: A Clear Winner or a Tie Game?

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 - 43 comments

Evolution and Cooperation

In Games, an Insight Into the Rules of Evolution. Carl Zimmer writes about Martin Nowak (previously mentioned here), a mathematical biologist who uses games to understand how cooperation evolved. [Via MindHacks.]
posted by homunculus on Aug 11, 2007 - 4 comments

You say Viagra, I say \/!@&2^

How Many Ways Can You Spell V1@gra? Building on previous research (Cockerham, 2004), Brian Hayes attempts to find the limits of Viagra-spammer ingenuity.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jun 27, 2007 - 17 comments

Math + Vishnu = Really Fast Math

What is the square of 85? In an instant, a 17-year-old boy said without blinking, "7,225." Kamlesh Shetty had used a trick from a quaint concept called Vedic math, a compilation of arithmetic shortcuts believed to have been written by ancient Indians who lived centuries before Christ, during a glorious period in Indian history called the Vedic Age. More on Vedic math. Still more. And there's a similar system called the Trachtenberg system, invented in a Nazi concentration camp. Where were these guys when I was in the third grade struggling with my times tables?
posted by frogan on May 28, 2007 - 29 comments

Mathematics in Movies

Mathematics in Movies.
posted by nthdegx on May 6, 2007 - 28 comments

Aptitude Schmaptitude!: innumeracy in America

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 - 140 comments

The Narrow Road

The Narrow Road : in which a professional mathematician guides you through pure mathematics (and touches on tangential issues).
posted by phrontist on May 1, 2007 - 10 comments

Chinese chemists will eat us all

Win £500 from the Royal Society of Chemistry (or a place on a Chinese science undergraduate course) if your math skills are up to it.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water on Apr 25, 2007 - 25 comments

E8 Structure Decoded

Math Team Solves the Unsolvable E8
"If you thought writing calculations to describe 3-D objects in math class was hard, consider doing the same for one with 248 dimensions. Mathematicians call such an object E8, a symmetrical structure whose mathematical calculation has long been considered an unsolvable problem. Yet an international team of math whizzes cracked E8's symmetrical code in a large-scale computing project, which produced about 60 gigabytes of data. If they were to show their handiwork on paper, the written equation would cover an area the size of Manhattan."
posted by ericb on Mar 19, 2007 - 67 comments

Images of Aggregation

Images of Aggregation "These works come from a study of organic natural forms and their relationship to simple mathematical rules." See videos, and also, Images of Flow. [via]
posted by dhruva on Mar 11, 2007 - 9 comments

My blog is smarter than your blog.

Alain Connes has a blog. Terry Tao also has a blog. Two Fields medalists blog on open problems, their views on mathematics, and Tomb Raider. Timothy Gowers doesn't have a blog, but does have a compendium of informal essays on topics like Why is multiplication commutative? If you prefer pictures to words: Faces of Mathematics.
posted by escabeche on Mar 10, 2007 - 15 comments

Music of golden proportions

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 - 24 comments

The scholarship on whether Pythagoras wrote "Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit" remains inconclusive.

Everything you know about Pythagoras is wrong (except the bit about the beans). Less the golden-thighed Einstein of the Ancient World and more the L. Ron Hubbard of Magna Graecia. [Last link has some rude words]
posted by Kattullus on Feb 22, 2007 - 41 comments


What if Euclid had been Japanese? There are traditionally stated and proved theorems about origami. And MetaFilter has previously explored modular origami (as well as the boring old artistic kind), which has a geometric foundation. However, origami itself is a powerful mathematical framework that allows one to, for instance, solve the famously insoluable problem of trisecting an angle. More generally: Traditional geometry solves quadratic equations, origami solves cubic ones. (Many more mathematical items about and using origami can be found in the excellent mathematics teachers' book: Project Origami: Activities for Exploring Mathematics, most of which are unfortunately not findable online).
posted by DU on Feb 13, 2007 - 9 comments

In Soviet Russia, sponge soaks you

Dr. Jeannine Mosely finishes building a level-3 Menger sponge from business cards. You can also build your own, though Dr. Mosely warns, "[a] level 4 sponge would require almost a million cards and weigh over a ton. I do not believe it could support its own weight — so a level 3 is the biggest sponge we can hope to build." (related)
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Feb 2, 2007 - 19 comments

Let them eat cake... fairly.

Mathematicians in the 1940s became curious about Fair Division, thus birthing an entire branch of mathematics concerned with cutting cakes. Recently, this man came up with a new method, purported to be the most fair yet. Hard to disbelieve, coming from the topologist who has mastered shoelaces, although arguably he's missing the point.
posted by eparchos on Jan 15, 2007 - 28 comments

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