398 posts tagged with mathematics.
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“Tell him to do with the $1,000 what I did.”

Charles Krauthammer on Paul Erdős.
posted by dfm500 on Oct 7, 2016 - 17 comments

Not just Phobos and Deimos

Space elevators, ZRVTOs and conic sections (and quite a bit more on the rest of the blog)
posted by Wolfdog on Sep 11, 2016 - 8 comments

Animated math

Essence of linear algebra - "[Grant Sanderson of 3Blue1Brown (now at Khan Academy) animates] the geometric intuitions underlying linear algebra, making the many matrix and vector operations feel less arbitrary." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Sep 11, 2016 - 17 comments


Compass-and-straightedge construction (aka Euclidean construction) is a method of drawing precise geometric figures using only a compass and a straightedge (like a ruler without the markings). MathOpenRef maintains a catalog of many common constructions, each with an explanatory animation and a proof. This YouTube video demonstrates how to construct almost every polygon that can be constructed using these methods. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Sep 8, 2016 - 20 comments

You are worth having coffee with.

Francis Su is a professor of mathematics at Harvey Mudd College and the first non-white president of the Mathematical Association of America. In 2013, he presented his Haimo Teaching Award lecture, The Lesson of Grace in Teaching. For Su, when we learn the lesson of grace—that we have dignity irrespective of accomplishments—and when we impart that lesson to our students, we make good teaching, enthusiastic learning, and honest evaluation possible. [more inside]
posted by J.K. Seazer on Aug 16, 2016 - 20 comments

Monumental Proof to Torment Mathematicians for Years to Come

Nearly four years after Shinichi Mochizuki (previously, previously, previously) unveiled an imposing set of papers (1, 2, 3, 4) that could revolutionize the theory of numbers, other mathematicians have yet to understand his work or agree on its validity — although they have made modest progress. [more inside]
posted by stinkfoot on Aug 5, 2016 - 46 comments

Daddy can you multiply triples?

A group of Science YouTubers got together to perform a tribute to a scientist Hamilton, in the style of his political musical namesake.
posted by divabat on Aug 1, 2016 - 14 comments

So, the unknowable kicks in

Logic hacking - "Writing shorter and shorter computer programs for which it's unknowable whether these programs run forever, or stop... the winner of the Busy Beaver Game for N-state Turing machines becomes unknowable using ordinary math - somewhere between N = 5 and N = 1919." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jul 30, 2016 - 17 comments

Let's hope they're friendly

Bruce Leonard Cathie (1930–2013) [Wikipedia; obituary] was a pilot for the New Zealand National Airways Corporation. After a mysterious aerial encounter in 1952, he spent decades plotting UFO sightings, scrutinising ham radio operators, and developing an esoteric theory of reality involving UFOs, a regular worldwide grid system, anti-gravity [content advisory: gratuitous use of Matrix soundtrack], complex mathematics, and the geometric properties of atomic bomb detonations. [more inside]
posted by Sonny Jim on May 18, 2016 - 17 comments

Physics, math and science toys

Physics Fun is an Instagram account with short videos of physics, math and science 'toys.' An accompanying blog looks at some in more detail.
posted by carter on Apr 8, 2016 - 7 comments

No, really, pi is wrong.

The Tau Manifesto
posted by anotherpanacea on Mar 14, 2016 - 63 comments

"In short, they commuted but didn’t associate."

Happy π Day! And do you know what that means? Math puns today! Every day! In competitions, even. Don't like puns? Try other forms of math humor (or over-explain them to businesspeople)!
posted by metaquarry on Mar 14, 2016 - 16 comments

Hilary Putnam (1926-2016)

Hilary Putnam, one of the most important analytic philosophers of the last hundred years, died today from mesothelioma. [more inside]
posted by Jonathan Livengood on Mar 13, 2016 - 54 comments

When to stop dating and settle down, according to math

Optimal stopping is a math theory that can be used to solve real world decision problems. In the real world, it is often applied to help decide when to stop dating and get married.
posted by reenum on Feb 28, 2016 - 61 comments

"there are ten enthusiastic seconds in 6 weeks"

What is the coolest mathematical fact you know? (SLReddit)
posted by holmesian on Feb 14, 2016 - 50 comments

More kids more math

"You wouldn’t see it in most classrooms, you wouldn’t know it by looking at slumping national test-score averages, but a cadre of American teenagers are reaching world-class heights in math—more of them, more regularly, than ever before." Peg Tyre in The Atlantic covers the new wave of deeper, faster, and hopefully broader math education. [more inside]
posted by escabeche on Feb 8, 2016 - 27 comments

156829? Mass-market. Tacky.

Artisanal Integers - Summer of 2012. Suddenly several “integer-as-a-service-providers” spring from nowhere. They deliver “artisanal integers”. Integers which (they claim) are “hand-crafted and guaranteed to be unique and hella-beautiful”.
posted by Wolfdog on Feb 4, 2016 - 78 comments

Babylonian (Pre)Calculus!

Signs of Modern Astronomy Seen in Ancient Babylon - "Scientists have found a small clay tablet with markings indicating that a sort of precalculus technique was used to track Jupiter's motion in the night sky." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 29, 2016 - 15 comments

0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, ...

Fair sharing, the Thue-Morse sequence, infinitely long chess games, and related ideas. [A light, 10 minute video]
posted by Wolfdog on Jan 28, 2016 - 17 comments

I'm a graph just like you

[In late 2015], László Babai, of the University of Chicago, announced that he had come up with a new algorithm for the “graph isomorphism” problem, one of the most tantalizing mysteries in computer science.
posted by Wolfdog on Jan 24, 2016 - 22 comments

I feel like I’ve finally gotten to know Ada Lovelace

Untangling the Tale of Ada Lovelace - by Stephen Wolfram; a good read, even if you're generally familiar with the story of Lovelace, Babbage, and the Difference Engine.
posted by Wolfdog on Jan 19, 2016 - 13 comments

Let me tell you about the equilibrium of bodies...

Published in 1913, a best-seller in the 1930s and long out of print, Physics for Entertainment was translated from Russian into many languages and influenced science students around the world ... In the foreword, the book’s author describes the contents as “conundrums, brain-teasers, entertaining anecdotes, and unexpected comparisons,” adding, “I have quoted extensively from Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Mark Twain and other writers, because, besides providing entertainment, the fantastic experiments these writers describe may well serve as instructive illustrations at physics classes.”
posted by Wolfdog on Jan 13, 2016 - 6 comments

Maths and physics visualizations

Illustrations, diagrams, and animations, many of maths and physics concepts, created for Wikipedia by Lucas Vieira Barbosa.
posted by carter on Jan 9, 2016 - 13 comments

Memory, Law, and Recording

Sci-Fi Author (and Metafilter's own) Charlie Stross has an interesting thought experiment: Could you get to a technological society without the use of writing? And if so, what would that look like?
posted by The Whelk on Jan 3, 2016 - 58 comments

The emperor was naked, and so is this.

"Respected research math is dominated by men of a certain attitude. Even allowing for individual variation, there is still a tendency towards an oppressive atmosphere, which is carefully maintained and even championed by those who find it conducive to success." Recent Princeton graduate Piper Harron's PhD thesis isn't written for these men. It is very cool number theory, and it is art.
posted by bergamot and vetiver on Dec 8, 2015 - 72 comments

The word algorithm derives from his name.

The word algebra stems from the Arabic word al-jabr, which has its roots in the title of a 9th century manuscript written by the mathematician Al-Khwarizmi. The Kitab al-mukhtasar fi hisab al-jabr wal-muqabala (The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing) was a pioneering piece of work - offering practical answers for land distribution, rules on inheritance and distributing salaries. This treatise also underpins the science of flight and the engineering behind the fastest car in the world. via
posted by infini on Nov 7, 2015 - 15 comments

Because Monty Hall is so last century.

The Sleeping Beauty Problem is a problem in probability (rumored to have originated at MIT) that appears trivially simple, yet has inspired some rather sophisticated arguments. [more inside]
posted by Obscure Reference on Nov 1, 2015 - 131 comments

Can an iPad run Drug Wars? Oh... it can?

The TI-83 graphic calculator is still a standby for mathematics education in America. This Mic.com article looks at some of the causes and effects of that fact. [more inside]
posted by codacorolla on Oct 18, 2015 - 99 comments

The likelihood that there's interesting or important math is pretty high

Shinichi Mochizuki and the impenetrable proof - "Fesenko has studied Mochizuki's work in detail over the past year, visited him at RIMS again in the autumn of 2014 and says that he has now verified the proof. (The other three mathematicians who say they have corroborated it have also spent considerable time working alongside Mochizuki in Japan.) The overarching theme of inter-universal geometry, as Fesenko describes it, is that one must look at whole numbers in a different light — leaving addition aside and seeing the multiplication structure as something malleable and deformable. Standard multiplication would then be just one particular case of a family of structures, just as a circle is a special case of an ellipse." (previously: 1,2; via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Oct 16, 2015 - 33 comments

Fun math for kids

Unsolved problems with the common core. Computational biologist (and occasional curmudgeon) Lior Pachter pairs unsolved problems in mathematics to common core math standards.
posted by quaking fajita on Sep 20, 2015 - 18 comments

“Please, may I cry?”

Martin Gardner, sprouts, the game of Life, and much more - John Conway's lifetime in games.
posted by Chrysostom on Sep 1, 2015 - 4 comments

Flowetry in motion

2009 UK Slam Poetry Champion Hollie McNish, aka Hollie Poetry, questions our attitudes on immigration with Mathematics. [more inside]
posted by urbanwhaleshark on Aug 20, 2015 - 11 comments

“Writing is healing. Writing is art. Writing is learning.”

The Role of Writers in a STEM Obsessed Society
“As writers, it’s easy to think of how we matter to literature classrooms, but what the appointment of writers-in-residence in hospitals, history classrooms, foreign language learning spaces, and cooking schools reminds us is that we are relevant wherever there is humanity—which is to say, wherever humans are with their stories. Writing is healing. Writing is art. Writing is learning. As such, writing across the disciplines matters. Many models of artist residencies depend upon the retreat model, wherein the artist sequesters herself away with a small community of other artists. While these models have value, especially when considering how solitude relates to the creative process, it’s heartening to me to see more models catch on that value the place of the writer in society, rather than hidden away from it.”
posted by Fizz on Jul 30, 2015 - 44 comments

Famous Fluid Equations Are Incomplete

The Singular Mind of Terry Tao - "Imagine, he said, that someone awfully clever could construct a machine out of pure water. It would be built not of rods and gears but from a pattern of interacting currents." (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jul 29, 2015 - 17 comments

HoTT Coq

Univalent Foundations Redefines Mathematics - "When a legendary mathematician found a mistake in his own work, he embarked on a computer-aided quest to eliminate human error. To succeed, he has to rewrite the century-old rules underlying all of mathematics." (previously) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jun 9, 2015 - 13 comments

3Blue1Brown: Reminding the world that math makes sense

Understanding e to the pi i - "An intuitive explanation as to why e to the pi i equals -1 without a hint of calculus. This is not your usual Taylor series nonsense." (via via; reddit; previously) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jun 6, 2015 - 28 comments

The toilet seat: up or down?

"I amused myself for over a year thinking about the impacts of different toilet seat administration policies and how to measure them – doing calculations in my head, considering ratios of Standing events to Sitting events, and I slowly began to understand some of the specific differences in the basic policies that know to be administered most often. Finally, I decided to perform a probabilistic analysis". Essential Toilet Seat Analytics.
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Jun 4, 2015 - 73 comments

It's true because pictures

(1 + 2 + … + n)2 = (13 + 23 + … + n3) [animated GIF]
(unanimated version)
posted by Wolfdog on May 26, 2015 - 48 comments

In mathematics, you don’t understand things. You just get used to them.

Calculating the Speed of Light Using a Microwave and PEEPS (or other melty things) from National Geographic's Education Blog and NPR's Skunk Bear videos (showing some history of calculating the speed of light... with peeps as historical scientists, of course)
posted by oneswellfoop on Apr 21, 2015 - 16 comments

The golden ratio has spawned a beautiful new curve: the Harriss spiral

is a new fractal discovered by mathematician Edmund Harriss.
posted by boo_radley on Apr 18, 2015 - 29 comments

"You blew it, and you blew it big!"

The Time Everyone “Corrected” the World’s Smartest Woman
posted by brundlefly on Feb 20, 2015 - 295 comments

The Man Who Tried to Redeem the World with Logic

Walter Pitts rose from the streets to MIT, but couldn’t escape himself. Pitts was used to being bullied. He’d been born into a tough family in Prohibition-era Detroit, where his father, a boiler-maker, had no trouble raising his fists to get his way. The neighborhood boys weren’t much better. One afternoon in 1935, they chased him through the streets until he ducked into the local library to hide. The library was familiar ground, where he had taught himself Greek, Latin, logic, and mathematics—better than home, where his father insisted he drop out of school and go to work. Outside, the world was messy. Inside, it all made sense. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Feb 10, 2015 - 24 comments

Islamic Astropolitik

Despite Western anxieties over Muslim conquest, traditions of Islamic astronomy and the portability of ritual space in Islam find Muslims at home among the stars. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Feb 1, 2015 - 1 comment

Thanks, Common Core.

Thanks, Common Core. Physics blogger Chad Orzel writes about the way kids do math now. (Spoiler: he likes it.) [more inside]
posted by escabeche on Jan 15, 2015 - 65 comments

No Pentagons

Imperfect Congruence - It is a curious fact that no edge-to-edge regular polygon tiling of the plane can include a pentagon ... This website explains the basic mathematics of a particular class of tilings of the plane, those involving regular polygons such as triangles or hexagons. As will be shown, certain combinations of regular polygons cannot be extended to a full tiling of the plane without involving additional shapes, such as rhombs. The site contains some commentary on Renaissance research on this subject carried out by two renowned figures, the mathematician-astronomer Johannes Kepler and the artist Albrecht Dürer. [more inside]
posted by Wolfdog on Jan 14, 2015 - 16 comments

Fake 3D Until You Make 3D

Louis Gorenfeld lovingly explores the mathematics and techniques behind early, pseudo-3D games. [more inside]
posted by gilrain on Jan 9, 2015 - 16 comments

"Science is when you think a lot."

Two enjoyable chapters [PDF, 33 pages] from the book Math from Three to Seven: The Story of a Mathematical Circle for Preschoolers. "This book does not purport to show you how to create precocious high achievers. It is just one person's story about things he tried with a half-dozen young children."
posted by Wolfdog on Dec 29, 2014 - 11 comments

Professor and the boomerang

Professor Yutaka Nishiyama is a mathematician and a boomerang enthusiast. His Boomerang International Project page contains instructions in multiple languages for making your own paper boomerang and several videos of the boomerang in action. [more inside]
posted by tykky on Nov 24, 2014 - 2 comments

It's pretty obscure, you probably haven't--wait, what?

The mathematician who proved why hipsters all look alike

Jonathan Touboul is a mathematician and a neuroscientist. Recently, he has been thinking about hipsters. Specifically, why hipsters all seem to dress alike. In his line of work, there are neurons that also behave like hipsters. They fire when every neuron around them is quiet; or they fall silent when every neuron around them is chattering. [more inside]
posted by Johnny Wallflower on Nov 16, 2014 - 43 comments

Alexander Grothendieck

Alexander Grothendieck, who brought much of contemporary mathematics into being with the force of his uncompromising vision, is dead at 86, some twenty-five years after leaving academic mathematics and retreating into a spiritual seclusion in the countryside. "As if summoned from the void," a two-part account of Grothendieck's life, from the Notices of the American Math Society: part I, part II. [more inside]
posted by escabeche on Nov 13, 2014 - 33 comments

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