The Art of Mathematics

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Conversations, puzzles, book reviews, conjectures solved and unsolved, mathematicians and beautiful mathematics. No math background required.

The Art of Mathematics

2w ago

Math is in a sense the science of patterns. Alon Amit explores the question of what exactly is a pattern. A common example is the decimal digits of pi. The statement that they have no pattern seems to be either obvious or completely untrue. We explore the spectrum of pattern-ness from simple repetition to total randomness and finally answer the question about pi. We also discuss analogy, which powers mathematical exploration ..read more

The Art of Mathematics

2w ago

Jeanne Lazzarini joins us again to discuss fractals, a way to investigate the roughness that we see in nature, as opposed to the smoothness of standard mathematics. Fractals are built of iterated patterns with zoom similarity. Examples include the Koch Snowflake, which encloses a finite area but has infinite perimeter, and the Sierpinski Triangle, which has no area at all. Fractals have fractional dimension. For example, The Sierpinski Triangle is of dimension 1.585, reflecting its position in the nether world between 1 dimension and 2. Fractals are used in art, medicine, science and technolog ..read more

The Art of Mathematics

1M ago

Alon Amit joins us on the antipode of Pi Day to counter the myths and mysteries of this most famous irrational number. There's nothing magical about a non-repeating string of digits. The real and profound mystery is the ubiquity of pi. It shows up in places that have nothing to do with circles, such as the sum of the reciprocals of the squares of the integers and the normal bell-shaped curve ..read more

The Art of Mathematics

2M ago

Kate Pearce, a post-doc researcher at UT Austin, talks about her experience teaching math in a women's prison. Her remedial college algebra students came in with negative experience in math, so she devised ways to make the topics new. The elective class called, coincidentally, The Art of Mathematics, explored parallels between math and art, infinity, algorithms, formalism, randomness and more. The students learned to think like mathematicians and gained confidence in their abilities in abstract problem solving ..read more

The Art of Mathematics

3M ago

Alon Amit, prolific Quora math answerer, argues that an honest representation of mathematical ideas is enough to spark interest in math. It's not necessary to exaggerate the role of math; the golden ratio does not drive the stock market, the solution of the Riemann hypothesis will not kill cryptography, and Grothendieck did not advance robotics. History and seeing the thought process and the struggle behind the tight finished proof are ways to make math compelling ..read more

The Art of Mathematics

4M ago

Dave Cole, the author of the Math Kids series of books, talks about introducing kids to math as a fun challenge and puzzle beyond the rote memorization they've come to expect. Kids who like to read are enticed by puzzles and mysteries. Möbius strips, Pascal's triangle, and other concepts that are new to them, make them marvel, "Is this math?" They see patterns and learn to make and even prove conjectures.
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The Art of Mathematics

6M ago

Neil Epstein, Associate Professor of Mathematics at George Mason University, introduces us to the fractions used by the ancient Egyptians, well before the Greeks and Romans. The Egyptian fractions all had a unit numerator. They could represent any fraction as a sum of unique unit fractions, a fact that was not proved until centuries later. These sums inspired conjectures, one of which was proved only recently, while others remain unsolved to this day. Recent work extends these concepts beyond fractions of integers. Human heritage goes way back, but is still inspiring modern research.
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The Art of Mathematics

7M ago

Jeanne Lazzarini joins us again to introduce us to the mathematician Luca Pacioli, whose views of numbers and shapes influenced Leonardo da Vinci, leading to a period of art and invention. His book, De Divina Proportione, is the only book ever illustrated by da Vinci. The Renaissance was a period when mathematicians studied art and artists studied mathematics. As da Vinci said, "Everything connects."
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The Art of Mathematics

8M ago

Alon Amit, probably the most prolific answerer of math questions on Quora, shares his reasons for his deep involvement. He seeks to share the journey, the exploration and stumbles of solving a problem. He's especially drawn to questions that will teach him things, even if he never completes the answer. He also shares his joy of problem solving with kids through Math Circles. One example problem, involving only 4 dots, can be worked on by a young child, yet affords deep exploration.
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The Art of Mathematics

8M ago

Lee Kraftchick continues his tour of books about math written for the non-mathematician like himself. We also can't let go of Gödel Escher Bach. Lee cites an opinion piece in the Washington Post, titled, "The Problem with Schools Today is Too Much Math," which gives a very narrow view of what math is. He counters it with a response (see theartofmathematicspodcast.com) and more books that demonstrate that math provides "pleasures which all the arts afford." He also discusses books about math and the real world and compilations of the broad range of mathematics.
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