Math

Category archives for Math

The Diagonal Parking Theorem

(With apologies to Georg Cantor) Theorem: There are an infinite number of stupid ways to park. Definition: We define as stupid any parking method that places any fender of a car outside the legal lines bounding the space. Proof:Consider a line L through the center of a legal parking space, parallel to the lines bounding…

Calculus Saves the Economy!

I’m taking a bit of flak in comments to my silly Bob Dylan post from Sunday, with various right-wingers spontaneously popping in to tell me that JFK cut taxes. My initial reaction to this is to think that supposing a perfect equivalence between JFK cutting the top rate from 90% to 70% during a time…

I finished Jennifer Ouellette’s new book a few weeks ago, shortly after my trip to Alabama, but it’s taken me a long time to get around to reviewing it due to a combination of too much work and being a Bad Person. There’s finally a tiny break in the storm of work, though, so here’s…

Know Your Prefixes, Baseball Edition

On the way to get SteelyKid from day care last night, I flipped on ESPN radio in the vain hope of getting a baseball score, but wound up listening to former Mets manager and freelance jackass Bobby Valentine talking about how difficult batting is, which included the statement: And the whole thing is over in…

Language Poll: The Most Threshold

Not prompted by anything specific, but something I’ve occasionally wondered about: what’s the threshold for “most”? Thus, a poll: The minimum percentage of X doing Y that you would need to feel justified saying “Most X do Y” is:survey software I know I tend to use “most” to mean something considerably more than just 51%,…

New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie is getting mocked for a clip where he takes some time to name all his children (the clip isn’t as bad as the description makes it sound– he’s slow, but he doesn’t struggle all that badly). Cromartie claims that HBO manipulated the footage to make him look bad. Of…

Algebra and Circuit Breakers

A couple of “kids these days are bad at math” stories crossed my feed reader last week, first a New York Times blog post about remedial math, then a Cocktail Party Physics post on confusion about equals signs. The first was brought to my attention via a locked LiveJournal post taking the obligatory “Who cares…

P=???

the hot topic in mathematical sciences at the moment is the draft proof that P≠NP (warning: PDF). This is one of the biggest issues in computer science, and one of the Clay Mathematics Institute’s Millennium Problems, so a proof would be Big News in math/CS, and earn the prover a cool $1,000,000. Reaction among blogging…

Real Math Doesn’t Use Calculators

The Dean Dad is worried about remedial math: In a discussion this week with someone who spends most of her time working with students who are struggling mightily in developmental math, I heard an argument I hadn’t given much thought previously: students who have passed algebra and even pre-calc in high school frequently crash and…

Matt’s Sunday Function this week is a weird one, a series that is only conditionally convergent: So the sum of the infinite series, by inexorable logic, is both ln(2) and ln(2)/2. How is this possible? Of course it isn’t. The flaw in our logic is the assumption that the series has a definite sum –…