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Evelyn Boyd Granville was one of the first African American women to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics. She recently turned 90, and I wrote a post here to celebrate.
September 5, 2014


Roots of Unity

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As I told my class on Thursday, the theme of the first week of our math history course was "easy algebra is hard in base 60." We started the semester in ancient Mesopotamia, trying to understand Babylonian* mathematical notation and decipher Plimpton 322, an enigmatic tablet from about 1800 BCE.
August 31, 2014


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If you don't know what to do, do something. That's one of my mottos when I teach math (and it's probably good life advice too). Last year, I taught introductory analysis (basically calculus with the juicy bits left in), one of the first prooforiented classes students take.
August 28, 2014


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I'll be teaching a math history class for the first time this semester. I'm excited to be teaching it, but I've noticed that preparing for this class has been very different from preparing for other classes I've taught, which have all been math content courses.
August 22, 2014


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On Wednesday, four mathematicians will receive the prestigious Fields Medal at the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) in Seoul.
August 11, 2014


Roots of Unity

Technology
In the course of being a math person on Twitter, I have run across some mathrelated Twitter bots and feeds. It would just be mean to grade my human tweeps, but I have no qualms about rating the bots!
July 28, 2014


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I spent about a month in the UK earlier this summer, and that meant I took a lot of train trips. I love riding trains: the feeling of endless possibility I get when I look at the departure boards, the countryside rolling by, the fantastic peoplewatching, the twohour delay between Edinburgh and Manchester because a [...]
July 23, 2014


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Warning: contains minor spoilers for The Fault in Our Stars. I recently read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, now a major motion picture that has led to theft in Amsterdam and a shortage of dry eyes in movie theaters around the world.
July 10, 2014


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As I wrap up a trip to the UK, I reflect on the many objects of constant width I encountered here. I’ll let Numberphile tell you a little more about objects of constant width.
July 4, 2014


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"Now and then we pluck numbers from the blur...numbers which have no names except the ones we might now give them...souvenirs from alien, unknowable worlds." Really Big Numbers by Richard Evan Schwartz Really Big Numbers by Richard Schwartz, a mathematician at Brown University, is the first children’s book published by the American Mathematical Society.
June 30, 2014


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Whether you write it 6/28 or 28/6, today is a perfect day. A perfect number is a number that is the sum of its factors besides itself, and 6 (1+2+3) and 28 (1+2+4+7+14) are the first two perfect numbers.
June 28, 2014


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Last month, I wrote about group theory via monkeys, and it got me thinking about the associative property. A mathematical group consists of a collection of stuff: integers, or rational numbers, or even something more abstract; and an operation that combines any two elements of your stuff into another element of stuff.
June 23, 2014


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What does math taste like? Andrea Hawksley recently posted a recipe for Fibonacci lemonade, a drink that is inspired by the famous Fibonacci sequence: 1,1,2,3,5,8, and so on.
June 16, 2014


Roots of Unity
How Not to Be Wrong by Jordan Ellenberg. Image courtesy of Penguin Press. How Not to Be Wrong, the first popular math book by University of WisconsinMadison math professor Jordan Ellenberg, just hit the shelves.
May 31, 2014


Roots of Unity
Today on the radio, I heard an announcer say, “Chicago has a higher murder rate than New York and Los Angeles combined.” The compassionate human being in me cringed, and the statistical pedant in me also cringed.
May 27, 2014


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I was in New York City earlier this month, and in addition to finally having an excuse to ride the Staten Island Ferry (I gave a talk there), I managed to make it to a few of the excellent museums in the city.
May 23, 2014


Roots of Unity
Monkeys! Mathematical groups! 4dimensional geometry! Together at last! This sculpture, called More Fun than a Hypercube of Monkeys, answers an open question: has the quaternion group ever appeared as the symmetry group of an object?
May 19, 2014


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Evelyn Boyd Granville, the second African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics, turns 90 today (May 1, 2014). I first heard her name in a talk by Patricia Kenschaft about African American mathematicians.
May 1, 2014


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In February, I wrote about Euclid’s parallel postulate, the black sheep of the big, happy family of definitions, postulates, and axioms that make up the foundations of Euclidean geometry.
April 21, 2014


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We all know a lot of measurements about ourselves. You are some number of feet or meters tall. You weigh some number of pounds, kilograms, or stone.
April 11, 2014


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Last month, I went to a talk by mathematician Annalisa Crannell of Franklin and Marshall College called Math and Art: the good, the bad, and the pretty.
April 7, 2014


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I was going to write an April Fool’s Day post with the title “Mathematicians Declare Graham’s Number Equal to Infinity.” Graham’s number is really big, but of course, it’s precisely 0% as big as infinity.
April 1, 2014


Roots of Unity
“We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.” from Little Gidding by T.S.
March 21, 2014


Roots of Unity
Warren Buffett’s Bracket Challenge* has put even more of a spotlight than usual on March Madness, the annual NCAA basketball tournament.
March 17, 2014


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The symbol is overloaded in math: depending on context and capitalization, could be the constant we all know and love (or hate), a projection, a product, or a function.
March 14, 2014
