...a companion blog to "Math-Frolic," specifically for interviews, book reviews, weekly-linkfests, and longer posts or commentary than usually found at the Math-Frolic site.

"Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty – a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show." ---Bertrand Russell (1907) Rob Gluck

"I have come to believe, though very reluctantly, that it [mathematics] consists of tautologies. I fear that, to a mind of sufficient intellectual power, the whole of mathematics would appear trivial, as trivial as the statement that a four-legged animal is an animal." ---Bertrand Russell (1957)

******************************************************************** Rob Gluck

Friday, February 17, 2017

Another Weekly Mix

1)  Already old news, but two giants passed away over a week ago:
Hans Rosling obituaries:

…and for Raymond Smullyan, the NY Times here:

…and “Gödel’s Lost Letter…” memorialized him here:

2)  Penrose tiling and Lior Pachter’s bathroom:

3)  Review here of “A Brief History of Mathematical Thought”:

4)  Mark Chu-Carroll on the “well-ordering theorem” and Cantor diagonalization:

5)  The math behind the bizarre disappearance of Malaysian airline MH370:

6)  Latest from Numberphile:

7)  Cathy O’Neil’s latest on big data, algorithms, alternative facts, reliability etc…:

8)  "The Mathematics of Quantum Computers" from the PBS Infinite series:

9)  Twin primes and the number 8 (from Chalkdust Magazine):

10)  This week's "On Being" episode has Krista Tippett replaying her interesting 2015 interview with physicist Margaret Wertheim:

11)  And hot off the presses, Jim Propp's newest piece, this month on one of math's favorites, pi (in honor of Pi-Day next month):

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest): 

I really got nothing for ya in the way of bonuses this week, so I'll just throw in this old classic funny dog video (...'cuz who doesn't like funny animals, and if I don't laugh I'm gonna cry):

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Week That Was...

1)  One of several posts where Andrew Gelman mulls over the research of a business school professor:

2)  RSA-129 from Numberphile:

3)  RJ Lipton reports on an impressive 5-man panel discussion (including one fool ;) of P vs. NP:

4)  If you’re not too tired of hearing problems with p-values, well here’s a litany:

5)  A John Baez update on science data amidst the world of Trumpian obfuscation:

6)  Futility Closet aired the story of Ramanujan on their podcast this week:

7)  The map of mathematics via YouTube:

8)  Mircea Pitici’s “The Best Writing On Mathematics 2016” is now available:

The “Introduction” here:  http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i10953.pdf

9)  The foundations of symplectic geometry from Quanta:
11)  At Math-Frolic this week I briefly looked at a physics book and yesterday reported the news of Raymond Smullyan’s death.

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest): 

1)  The fellow behind the @TrumpDraws Twitter viral account:

2)  And ICYMI, John Cleese’s letter to the U.S. (though I think perhaps he’s overreached his power a wee bit):

I'll depart on a more divine note from Raymond Smullyan:

Friday, February 3, 2017

Mathy Things From the Week

For your reading weekend:

1)  Looking for distraction, Brian Hayes took on a James Tanton problem here:

2)  Latest video from Grant Sanderson on fractals:

3)  A review of Daniel Levitan’s book, “A Field Guide to Lies,” which I highly recommended awhile back:

4)  Latest “Math Teachers At Play” blog carnival here, with plenty of links:

5)  As if I hadn’t been seeing enough evil this week, Ben Orlin chimed in with ‘evil mathematicians’… and, cracked me up:

(p.s... I think Ben should join up with whoever does the @TrumpDraws account -- would be the greatest cartoon collaboration in world history, BELIEVE ME ;)

6)  Joselle crosses various boundaries (math, biology, physics, information theory), as she often does, in a new post, “Life in the Inanimate”:

You may also want to check out Philip Ball’s first piece for Quanta on life’s complexity:

7)  I’ve covered it a bit previously, but another good piece on the Libratus poker-playing program that just walloped human pros:

8)  New President announced for MAA:

9)  A shame we even need to be thinking about such things, but we do, and Evelyn Lamb presents “A Math Lesson From Hitler’s Germany”:

...I'll also reiterate from earlier in week ICYMI, Dr. Lamb is offering a new email newsletter you can subscribe to by going here:

10)  The latest (Jan.) “Journal of Humanistic Mathematics” online here:

11)  Timing is everything... I was hoping to have an interview up with Francis Su in a few weeks, and now Quanta has beat me to the punch with this wonderful offering:

12)  Another editorial on why mathematical reasoning is a skill worth striving for (h/t Anthony Bonato):

13)  In a largely humor-challenged week, I'll toss in this bit of humor from a tweet and its comments:

14)  Keep up with news of the April 22 "March For Science" here:

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest): 

1)  This week’s This American Life episode was another re-run of a classic, fun show, this time on ‘coincidences’:

2)  There is a nationwide coffeehouse fundraiser for the ACLU this weekend. Check for participants in your area:
And an online petition calling for the impeachment of Emperor Trump:

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Math Potpourri

You’d probably rather read about Donald Trump's spiraling out of control, but instead here’s some mathy readings for the weekend:

1)  On “the declining authority of statistics” from the Guardian (h/t Nalini Joshi):

2)  The surprising success of the “Shanghai maths method” (h/t Dan Finkel):

3)  New video from “Mathologer” (on infinity and axiom of choice):

4)  A quickie salute to Eugenia Cheng, senior liberal arts lecturer at the Art Institute” (h/t to Egan Chernoff):

5)  A short list of “Fundamental Principles of Statistics”:

(from the relatively new blog, “Statistical Thinking.”)

6)  RJ Lipton & KW Regan on checking difficult proofs:

7)  New autobiographical volume on Edward O. Thorp now out:

8)  Ben Orlin with another smile-inducer, inventing words mathematicians can hardly live without:

9)  A transcribed interview with Ian Stewart:

10)  Finally, I haven't attempted to comprehend this, but Colm Mulcahy points out a "New Geometrical Proof of Fermat's Last Theorem" that surely will be of interest to some, reported briefly on here:

==> ADDENDUM:  a respected mathematician writes me to disapprove of including this in the potpourri saying it is “almost certainly… crank mathematics,” and indeed I’ve seen nothing on the Web lending it credence, but leave it here if only for entertainment value. If anyone cares to further comment on it feel free to.

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest):

1)  ICYMI, Dave Barry’s review of a year most of us would prefer to forget:

2)  As most readers here probably already know, in the aftermath and success of the Women’s March on Washington, a science march on Washington is now being planned for all those with a strong interest in the methods/integrity/conduct of science for the good of society. You can follow the progress/planning here:

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Grab-bag

A few readings for ya, on this day that may live in infamy:

1)  Lover of prime numbers, Evelyn Lamb, gets trolled by Wilson’s Theorem:

2)  Erica Klarreich’s followup on graph isomorphism (via Quanta):

3)  Another quickie introduction to category theory:

4)  Jim Propp’s monthly posting, fascinating as always, this time on the “Prouhet/Thue/Morse sequence":

5) If Venn Diagrams bored you in school, you need to consider these from Ben Orlin:

6)  Another rock-paper-scissors twist from Presh Talwalkar:

7)  For fans of the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” who also happen to be mathematicians, well, Evelyn Lamb has the post for you:

8)  Markov chains and a chess knight (from PBS's "Infinite Series"):

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest):

1)  Natalie Wolchover (for Quanta) on a new theory of life's origins:

2)  This is from last year but I just saw it for the first time going around this week; delightful, if you missed it:

Friday, January 13, 2017

Potpourri Time

A few from the week:

1)  Andrew Gelman back on p-values:

2)  The Riemann Hypothesis gets wonderful exposure to a wider lay audience with this great Medium piece:

3)  Another month, and another “Carnival of Mathematics” here:

4)  John McGowan looks at a career in data science:

5)  Pi in different metrics from PBS’s “Infinite Series”:

6)  Ben Orlin on mathematics and arithmetic:

7)  Steven Strogatz on eigenvectors and eigenvalues... and Google:

8) Tracy Zager has a book out “Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had.” Read about it here:
…and she has an ongoing project collecting autobiographical sketches of math teachers as well, you can keep up with here:

10)  ICYMI, a busy week at Math-Frolic touching upon interviews, a puzzle, student loan debtFrancis Su, and some news in AI.

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest):

1)  The always-interesting Ed Yong on some not-so-modern medical devices:

2)  Daniel Everett on “Chomsky, Wolfe, and Me”:

Friday, January 6, 2017

It's Friday Potpourri Time

Some weeks I worry about coming up with enough Friday links to pass along... this wasn't one of those weeks:

1)  For fans of prime numbers, Evelyn Lamb delivers this fun post:

2)  The “happy ending” problem via Lior Pachter:

3)  Joselle at “Mathematics Rising” relays some thoughts from Andrew Wiles:

4)  A Keith Devlin week!:

 ...on his updated MOOC course:

…on “Number Sense” here:

5)  Sudoku becomes even more fun when you tie it to symmetries, courtesy of always-entertaining Ben Orlin:

6)  Marcus du Sautoy lectures about his latest book, "What We Cannot Know":

7)  For education bloggers/tweeters, the “MTBoS 2017 Blogging Initiative” has begun; read all about it here (and take part!):

8)  Jo Boaler briefly interviewed on the 'math wars':

9)  Erica Klarreich begins the year reporting on a retraction in complexity theory:

10)  One report on the popular "Hidden Figures" talk at the Joint Math Meetings conference in Atlanta this week:

11)  Do you ever get tired of hearing Steve Strogatz talk about math or education... I didn't think so (the last ~40 mins. is especially good stuff):

12)  Richard Schoen awarded the prestigious Wolf Prize in mathematics:

13)  ICYMI, posts at Math-Frolic this week were on the number 7 and Eric Weinstein.

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest):

1)  If you enjoy podcasts, this list of 50 from Atlantic Magazine looks interesting (many I’m not familiar with):

2)  Gary Taubes continues his battle against sugar:

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Readings To Start the Year

First, some New Years resolutions (you know, just in case, stating them publicly makes sticking to them any more likely ;):

1)  More exercise and fiber, less sugar, sodium, & carbs
2)  More pickleball, birding, hiking, music, flossing (just kidding)
3)  #Resist, resist, resist


Anyway, some nice readings to start the new year with, courtesy of John Brockman’s Edge group. Every year they respond to some broad science-tinged question, and this year’s query was:
What scientific term or concept ought to be more widely known?

Doesn't sound all that scintillating, but I'm very much enjoying the responses. Haven’t seen the book version in stores yet, but the online version has 204 contributors, and looks to me to be one of the best such Edge volumes in recent years because of the sheer number, diversity, and succinctness of thoughtful, fun nuggets written. Here are just some of the more mathematically-tinged replies, and there are of course a great many interesting, non-mathematics ones as well:

Keith Devlin on Number Sense

Sean M. Carroll on Bayes’s Theorem

Bart Kosko on Negative Evidence

Jason Wilkes on Functional Equations

Lawrence Krauss on Uncertainty

Siobhan Roberts on Surreal Numbers

Ashvin Chhabra on Scaling

Kai Krause On Average

Simon Baron-Cohen on Boolean Logic

Clifford Pickover on the Menger Sponge

Much good stuff!
Scott Aaronson also took part and posted about the Edge essays at his blog with more details, so check out his take:

Lastly, I’ll note Eric Weinstein’s entry on “Russell Conjugation,” having to do with our emotional/visceral, rather than cerebral, reaction to words/language -- this is a topic that comes up in General Semantics (a subject I’ve been emphasizing of late) and which impinges on our current political scene

Friday, December 30, 2016

Close-out Potpourri of 2016

Good-bye (riddance) to 2016, but not before pointing to a few more math reads:

1)  Ben Orlin’s round-faced friends took a closer look at the (not-so) boring number line this week:

2)  “Flowing Data” called attention to this video introduction to Bayesian thinking:

3)  This Nikola Tesla bit of history almost reads like a Martin Gardner prank, but is apparently real:

4) “Ethics and Statistics” (…or is that an oxymoron? ;-) via Andrew Gelman:

5)  God-only-knows what scientific data will be destroyed once Donald Trump and his minions take reins in the White House, so John Baez continues his campaign to save climate data for posterity (…you know, just in case the Earth is worth saving):

6)  A relatively new blog for educators that I’d not seen before and David Wees pointed out yesterday:

7)  Mike Lawler posted a year-end review citing some of his favorite 2016 math projects with his sons; so many great ideas and projects:

8) And couple days back, I felt compelled to write about the inmates running the asylum (sorry, but this truly is the most depressing New Years of my entire lifetime):

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest):

End the year with just some relaxing music once again:

Friday, December 23, 2016

Unwrapping a Few Math Reads From the Week

Math just keeps coming:

1)  Jim Propp’s latest monthly offering is on David Kelly’s “Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics” program.  If, like me, you’ve never heard of it (and perhaps even moreso if you have) fascinating stuff, with lots of good links:

2)  Dylan Kane on using instructional visual patterns:

3)  Andrew Gelman revisits the “hot hand” discussion yet one more time:
(…wonder if ‘hot hands’ apply to bloggers, ‘cuz Andrew has been on a tear lately putting up blog posts ;)

4)  Just in time for Christmas, new from James Grime & Numberphile on Euler’s number ‘e’:

5)  “Solve My Maths” keeps putting up great geometry problems week after week:

…and I only recently realized (“DOH!”) the site also has a separate blog with interesting posts:

6)  The “Christmaths edition” of the “Math Teachers At Play” blog carnival is up here:

9)  It's the giving time of year, so I'll just mention that Greg Ross who runs "Futility Closet," a favorite eclectic site for 11 years (with many science/math bits) is always in need of monetary support:

10)  Welcome to your new algorithm-overlords... Cathy O'Neil points to this Wall St. Journal piece hinting at our superlative future:

11)  ICYMI, my final interview of the year, last weekend, was with Grant Sanderson of the amazing 3Blue1Brown website:

12)  And one last piece I'm throwing in just because I found it oddball and difficult/confusing to follow — don’t know if that’s just me, or if it really is poorly composed — it’s Stephen Senn on placebos in research, in a guest post at Deborah Mayo’s site, where I usually find more clearly written statistics posts:
(p.s… I’m not necessarily commenting on the merits of what he’s written, only on the confusion of it)

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest):

1)  Last weekend’s “This American Life” was a rerun of one of their classics about how children perceive the world. Even if you’ve heard it before worth hearing again at this season of children’s dreams:

2)  Speaking of children, and sorry to be a downer, but hope everyone keeps the children of every God-forsaken war-torn place on this planet in your thoughts at this time of year… will close out with some (somber) Mary Chapin Carpenter holiday music: