Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible


Wild About Math bloggers 1/28/11

[ The current edition is at Equalis. ]

Here's the end-of-January edition of Wild About Math Bloggers! Enjoy.

Math Teachers at Play Carnival #34 is up at Math4allages.

One post in the Carnival that particularly got my attention was by John Cook telling us about an amazing lightning computing calendar produced by Ron D and available at the Dead Reckonings blog. It's free as a PDF download or you can buy a printed copy at Lulu.

Jon McLoone has a really fun article on using Mathematica for cracking ciphers using frequency analysis techniques.

NPR has an interview with Keith Devlin, the Math Guy, about a fun new book for kids on factoring integers into primes.

The book is based on this great poster.

Stephen Wolfram writes about Jeopardy, IBM, and Wolfram|Alpha. Here's a snippet:

About a month before Wolfram|Alpha launched, I was on the phone with a group from IBM, talking about our vision for computable knowledge in Wolfram|Alpha. A few weeks later, the group announced that they were going to use what they had done in natural language processing to try to make a system to compete on Jeopardy.

I thought it was a brilliant way to showcase their work—and IBM’s capabilities in general. And now, a year and a half later, IBM has built an impressive level of anticipation for their upcoming Jeopardy television event. Whatever happens (and IBM’s system certainly should be able to win), one thing is clear: what IBM is doing will have an important effect in changing peoples’ expectations for how they might be able to interact with computers.

Science 2.0 has an amazing article: Partition Numbers Behave Like Fractals, Says Mathematician.

Emory mathematician Ken Ono says he will unveil new theories that answer the famous questions about partition numbers and prove that partition numbers behave like fractals, which you may know as those gimmicky random things so popular in the 1990s. They say they have unlocked the divisibility properties of partitions, and developed a mathematical theory for "seeing" their infinitely repeating superstructure - and that they have devised the first finite formula to calculate the partitions of any number.
"Ken Ono has achieved absolutely breathtaking breakthroughs in the theory of partitions," says George Andrews, professor at Pennsylvania State University and president of the American Mathematical Society. "He proved divisibility properties of the basic partition function that are astounding. He went on to provide a superstructure that no one anticipated just a few years ago. He is a phenomenon."

Hat tip to Shecky.

Steven Colyer at Current Issues in Mathematical Physics has a really nice introduction to Euler's formula and identity.

I'll leave you today with a very elegant problem posted by Patrick at Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks.

Three points are randomly chosen along the perimeter of a square. What is the probability that the center of the square will be contained within the triangle formed by these three points?

Patrick's solution is very elegant. If you want to cheat (or give up) the solution is here.

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  1. I like this proof. I was thinking to solve the exact same way.

  2. I quibbled with the solution to Patrick’s points on a square problem.

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