Mathematician: top job

I just got back from the Joint Mathematics Meeting in Washington, DC. While I was gone the Wall Street Journal ran an article, Doing the Math to Find the Good Jobs. In it they reveal the best and worst jobs as compiled by Les Krantz, author of “Jobs Rated Almanac.” According to the study, mathematicians…

Definition of continuity video

Thank you to Dansmath for turning me on the website xtranormal. It allows you to create your own animated videos. It is easy and fun. You can choose the characters, the scene, the camera angles, the gestures and facial expression, music, etc. They do the voices for you—you just type the script. Here are some of Dan’s videos….

Is π the right constant?

In the November 3, 2001 issue of the Mathematical Intelligencer Bob Palais wrote an article called “ is wrong!” In it Palais does not assert that we have miscalculated the value of , just that many mathematical formulas would be more elegant if we had chosen a different value for our named constant—he thinks that…

The prime number theorem in Calculus II

I attended Shahriar Shahriari’s MAA Minicourse Beyond Formulas and Algorithms: Teaching a Conceptual/thematics Single Variable Calculus Course at the 2008 Joint Mathematics Meeting. He talked about having his calculus students derive the prime number theorem. Recall that the prime number theorem states that if is the number of primes less than or equal to ,…

Jenga mathematics

I like this: on his blog The Endeavor, John D. Cook draws an analogy between strengthening a theorem and the game Jenga. Jenga is a game where you start with a tower of wooden pegs and take turns removing pegs until someone makes the tower collapse… I use the phrase “Jenga mathematics” to refer to generalizing…

Do you give partial credit? How to grade Venn diagrams

Suppose that on an exam you asked your class to shade the region corresponding to  in the figure below. The problem is worth 5 points. The correct answer is: When you received their solutions, some students had regions shaded that shouldn’t be shaded and left regions unshaded when they should be shaded. My question is:…

Four shuffles suffice

It takes a while to shuffle a deck of cards seven times, but it is well known that that is how many riffle shuffles it takes to fully randomize a deck of 52 standard playing cards. This was shown in 1992 by Bayer and Diaconis. As it turns out, however, for some games fewer than…

Judges, sonar, and innumeracy

Good Math, Bad Math has an interesting blog post about the recent Supreme Court case over the Navy’s use of sonar near marine wildlife. In the blog (and in the readers’ comments that follow), they talk about Chief Justice John Roberts use (misuse) of mathematics in his written decision.

Honda Civic plays the William Tell Overture

American Honda paid for a viral marketing campaign in Lancaster, CA for the Honda Civic. They cut grooves in the road so that when a car drives over the road at 55 mph (in a Honda Civic, presumably), it will play Rossini’s William Tell Overture (yes, that’s the Lone Ranger theme song). The “debut” of…

Folding a golden rectangle

Recently I wrote about the mathematics of cutting and folding paper and about the golden ratio, . Here’s a video that brings these two ideas together. We see how to create a golden rectangle (a rectangle for which the ratio of the sides is ) by folding a piece of paper. [via Anthony Brand’s maths…

Job opening: Lucasian Chair of Mathematics

There is going to be a new faculty member in the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge University. The current Lucasian Chair, Stephen Hawking, is turning 67 on January 8, 2009, and will reach the manditory retirement age. The chair was founded in 1663. Past holders of the chair are: 1664 Isaac Barrow 1669 Sir…

Advice for the budding mathematician of any age

Fields Medal winner Terry Tao put together a page on his blog titled Career Advice. He writes: Here is my collection of various pieces of advice on academic career issues in mathematics, roughly arranged by the stage of career at which the advice is most pertinent (though of course some of the advice pertains to…