## Circular reasoning: who first proved that C/d is a constant?

I just uploaded an article “Circular reasoning: who first proved that  is a constant?” to the arXiv. The abstract is below. It is on a topic that I’ve been thinking about and reading about off-and-on for the last year and a half. I’d be happy to hear people’s thoughts, reactions, and impressions. Abstract. We answer the…

## Plato’s approximation of pi?

Today I came across an assertion that Plato used as an approximation of . Indeed, it is not a bad approximation: (although it is not within Archimedes’s bounds: ). Not only had I not seen this approximation before, I had not heard of any value of attributed to Plato. I investigated a little further and…

## A quick guide to LaTeX

This semester I’ll be teaching real analysis. I am going to have the students type their homework in LaTeX. To make this as easy for them as possible, I will give them a template that is all ready for them to enter their solutions. They shouldn’t have to worry about headers, packages, font sizes, margins,…

## Math books for young children

I have a child in first grade and another who will be in elementary school in a couple years. So I’m on the lookout for good children’s books about mathematics. Below is a collection of books that I’ve read or that have been recommended to me. (I got some of these suggestions from people on Twitter.) I’d…

## Readers’ response: Euler’s greatest hits

My friend Gene Chase is teaching a history of mathematics class at Messiah College this semester. He asked me if I was interested in giving a visiting lecture in his class in a few weeks. The topic: Leonhard Euler. He said that I could talk about whatever I wanted. Wow, the possibilities! So I was…

## Tom Lehrer’s math songs

After writing about some well known people with degrees in mathematics, I was moved to re-listen to some old Tom Lehrer songs on YouTube. I decided I’d post some links to his more mathematical songs here. Enjoy. First, “Lobachevsky,” a song about the Russian mathematician Nikolai Lobachevsky and his discovery of non-Euclidean geometry, which some…

## Publish or perish…?

I just received a copy of The Survival of a Mathematician: From Tenure-Track to Emeritus, by Steven Krantz, to review for MAA Reviews. I am only two pages in and I have already found something interesting (on p. xiv, to be precise). It is a hard fact that most American Ph.D. mathematicians write very few…

## 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…