This is actually a fractal picture! There’s a gallery of them here. Gorgeous.

Where does Pac-Man live?

Here’s a question I’ve always liked: what kind of world does Pac-Man on? We know we live on a sphere, or course, or something close to it. But we often imagine our world on a rectangular map. What are the rules? Well, if you go out the left side, you come back on the right side. If you go to …

The nightmare

The other day a friend related a math nightmare. She was in a prison-like compound. People guarded the exits, and they wouldn’t let her out until she solved a calculus problem. She couldn’t ever do it, and her teeth started to fall out. Apparently this had been a recurring nightmare for her through high school. I wonder how many people …

Mathematical Flimflam

Link: Mathematical Flimflam One thing that’s always struck me is how mathematics has been interpreted by so many people in so many contexts as a direct conduit to God’s thoughts. This link is a modern manifestation of that—but sadly it’s a pretty shallow vision of what God’s thoughts look like. There are some pretty identities, but under deeper scrutiny they’re …

The mathematician’s patterns, like the painter’s or the poet’s must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colors or the words must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in this world for ugly mathematics. G. H. Hardy (1877 – 1947)

This is an entertaining talk on education and creativity, though not specifically about math. There are some powerful stories near the end in particular.

One Manifesto

Link: One Manifesto People have been writing about the failure of math education for a long, long time. For example: S. K. Stein, Strength in Numbers, John Wiley & Sonse, 1996  If you browse through The Mathematics Teacher, the main journal devoted to instruction in mathematics you will find constant lamentation, going back to its first volume in 1908, where …

The mathematician does not study pure mathematics because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it and he delights in it because it is beautiful. J.H.Poincare (1854-1912)

Problem of the Week (or, ask another question)

Link: Problem of the Week (or, ask another question) My old school, Saint Ann’s, in Brooklyn Heights, has an ongoing problem of the week competition for its middle schoolers. The problems tend to be fun, and require a little more thinking (and explanation) than most standard math problems, and the teachers have fun brainstorming new ones. This one is pretty …

After Tutoring

Just had a fun little tutoring session with a new student. (How could it surprise you that I tutor?) She strikes me, happily, as one of the many people who have a decent aptitude for math but, sadly, don’t like it much and don’t think they’re any good as it. How much I enjoy tutoring shocks me sometimes. The last …