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Happy new year!

Happy new year!

Happy new year everyone. 2011 is the first full year of Mathblog.dk’s life, and what a year. The site has grown from being completely unknown to have a nice little following. 2011 was not only a prime year, it was also a sum of 6 consecutive primes 157 + 163 + 167 + 173 + 179 + 181 + 191 + 193 + 197 + 199 + 211 = 2011. A geeky and useless fact, but fascinating non the less.

I hope you all entered the year with all 10 fingers intact and without too much of a hangover. I am very excited about 2012 and what that will bring of new and interesting stuff to the blog, and what knowledge I will obtain through writing the blog and interaction with you. 2012 is also the official Alan Turing year, marking his 100’s birthday. This will be celebrated through a long series of events throughout the world. You can see more about that on the official website.

Once again, happy new year everyone ūüôā

Posted by Kristian in Other, 3 comments
Merry Christmas from MathBlog

Merry Christmas from MathBlog

Merry Christmas everyoneA very merry Christmas to all of you out there. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, I still wish you a happy on of them. It is a wonderful time to spend time with your families and I hope that you all got something nice for and mathy for Christmas. I haven’t gotten any Christmas presents that are math related this year, but I did get¬†Munchkin which is an awesome game when you want to have fun with your friends. Did you get something good and math related?

Personally I use some of the time between Christmas and New year to reflect over the year gone by. What have I learned, what have been good, what have been bad. Not just around mathematical subject, but all aspects of life. And not least, what do I want to change next year.

Best Christmas wishes from
Kristian

The blog images used here is kindly shared under the creative commons license by Christina Rutz and Kevin Dooley.

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Nerdy jokes for a rainy Thursday evening

Just a quick post with a really funny video my sister shared with me containing no less than 31 jokes for nerds.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

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An Eyewitness account from the NCPC ‚Äď Part 3/3

An Eyewitness account from the NCPC ‚Äď Part 3/3

Editors note: Yesterday we left Suprdewd and his teammates sweating over the remaining problems to solve, so lets pop our heads back in and lets see how this ends. Read part 1 and 2

Problem F

My teammates had trouble understanding the description at first, but figured it out after writing it out on a piece of paper (I recommend taking a pen and paper to a competition if you’re allowed to).

Read the whole problem description here. Continue reading →

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An Eyewitness account from the NCPC – Part 2/3

An Eyewitness account from the NCPC – Part 2/3

Editor note: We are coming back from the short break with a lot of exciting students ready to throw them self at 10 exciting problems that needs to be solve in a very short time. So lets get right into it. Read part 1 here

There are 10 problems, uniquely identified with a character from A to J. They are not ordered by difficulty, but in a competition like this you want to finish the easiest problems first.

The problem set is located here, but since the problem descriptions are long, I won’t be posting them here. I recommend you read the problems and try them out for yourself before reading the rest of the story. You need to read the descriptions of problems A, C,¬† D and F at least, which are the problems I’ll be talking about. Continue reading →

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An Eyewitness account from the NCPC – Part 1/3

An Eyewitness account from the NCPC – Part 1/3

Editors note: The absolute top commenter and a huge help on the blog Suprdewd  has recently participated in the Nordic Collegial Programming Challenge 2011. I was all excited of his participation and convinced him to write about the experience. SuprDewd is a 17 old computer science student from Iceland with 4 years experience programming and a much greater insight in the C# API than I can ever hope to gain. He keeps a nice collection of methods and algorithms at his Github repository which I can recommend you to pay a visit. But enough blabbering from me. Lets hear what he has to say.

I recently took part in the Nordic Collegial Programming Challenge 2011 (NCPC). It was very exciting and I had loads of fun. The problems were tough, but I’m going to walk you through some of them, while trying to share insight about the competition.

Before we get started, let me just give you a run through what NCPC and the international version ICPC is. Continue reading →

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A Mathematicians Anti-rant

A Mathematicians Anti-rant

This is a rant over other people ranting about people’s ignorance towards mathematics. Or rather an anti-rant since two negatives makes a positive (sometimes). Got your attention? Good, now read on.

By now I have seen a fair share of bitter remarks¬† over the theme that someone presents them self as a mathematician, and the answer they get is a blank stare and a comment in the ball park of “I can’t even balance my own checkbook”. Same theme of rant also cover someone stating that “Oh, mathematics is easy. It is just memorizing the formulas and plug in the numbers!”.

I have seen them and I have laughed hard over the witty retorts and remarks people have come up with. But I had an epiphany when I thought more about it. The person stating those things are not necessarily being rude, but in their world that is what mathematics is. I agree with you that comments like that are narrow minded¬† but the person who states it doesn’t know that there is a lot more to the wonderful world of maths.

What I realized is that most things can be reduced to a statement of “Oh that’s easy! Just…” So let me give you an example of a hobby of mine: Photography.

Oh Photography! Now that’s easy!

With today’s camera all you need to do is turn it on and press the shutter, and BANG you have a photo.

Photo of MushroomsWell true you have a photo just like aunt Olga’s 225 vacation photos from some boring resort. The photos are bland the composition sucks and she didn’t really know what she wanted to tell with the photos. Indeed it is photos but they are not really interesting. Taking interesting photos takes knowledge, care and planning. A study of technique, composition and not least hours and hours of practice.

The picture on the right is a photo I spent about half an hour to take. It took a lot of experimenting with mixing the natural light with a flash, and not least getting the composition right. I really like the photo though. Most people can probably tell if a photo is good, I can usually tell what makes it good. The difference is that I have years of practice and interest in it.

A colleague of mine came to work really proud with a photo of a cake his wife made for his daughter’s birthday. It was this bright pink cake formed as a dress around a barbie doll. I am sure it was the most beautiful cake a 4 year old girl could imagine.

However, what I immediately saw was how this wall plug was growing out of the back of the barbie which happens when you are not careful with the interaction between foreground and background. He could have avoided that by taking half a step to the left. I also noticed that the white balance was off. Besides that he should have taken the shot closer to the cake and at a lower angle.

I could have made funny remarks and retorts about his knowledge of photography.  But how should he know? He just used all the photography skills he had to get the result Рa picture of the cake he could show me.

So where do I want to go with this?

So photo can be reduced to something trivial even if it contains lots of depth and study. However, there is an important difference between photography and mathematics. Photography¬† is easy to show people. You can whip out the smartphone and show them your 3-5 best shots. So you can meet people in terms they understand and that they can rather easily relate to. Even though they still don’t know all the work and mechanics behind it.

Mathematics is different. Mathematics beyond arithmetic is highly abstract and requires a special way of thinking to get the grasp the workings of it. And it is not something you are exposed to in your everyday life. Well, sure you use lots of things relying on mathematical breakthroughs, but you can’t see that when you use your GPS or smart phone.

So people who state that math is easy are right –¬† it is easy in their world. They don’t know that there exist more to it than that. If they state that they don’t get math, it is probably because they were introduced to something abstract but stopped there and never got to the level where they can see these abstract things loop back into the real world.

So now we are getting to my point. When people say something you find derogatory about math they are likely right in their world and not really trying to be provocative. Try to put your self in their shoes and think. Do they know that arithmetic is just a small part of mathematics, or is that all they have ever been taught? Tp be anecdotal again;¬† another colleague and good friend of mine once told me something wise when I got pissed off by someone. He said “The person with the greater surplus should always try to see things from the other person’s perspective and act based on that”. I still hate him for being so right about that.

If they don’t know better, you have no right whining about it. You have a job to do! You need to explain what the maths, you are working with, is about in a terms they can¬† relate to. I know it is insanely difficult for some areas, but you need to work on it since you are the one with the knowledge. Personally I have at least five different stories I can tell in a short time about my work depending on what level of understanding people are at, and what I think they find interesting. And trust me people will let you know if they are bored.

So, it was a long rant but the point is: Don’t make retorts and don’t be mad at them, in their world mathematics is equal to arithmetic. If you want them to know otherwise you have to teach them, since there is no way they will discover it for them self.

Image credits

The image was created by Shoutput.com and kindly shared under the creative commons license. So a little shout our for them

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This week’s links

This week’s links

I have a few links for you this week that I have chewed through and found interesting. First I found a few papers that I think are really nice recreational mathematics

A paper titled The Prime Facts: From Euclid to AKS which is going through different aspects of prime numbers and not least their importance in public key encryption. Something which the society relies heavily on today. Continue reading →

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Monday links

Monday links

The links I will post today is a bit on the lighter side of mathematics. But hey mathematics is not about being bored it is about having fun all the way through.

First I have found a few games that requires some logic thinking and in one of the cases¬†knowledge¬†of how functions evolve. Continue reading →

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Monday links

Monday links

I often post some links to interesting sites on Twitter, and once in a while I take the links I have collected and post them here as well for you to take a look at.  Here are a few links I have collected over the last few weeks.

Explanation of imaginary numbers. First of all I found an excellent explanation of what imaginary numbers are. The website is called betterexplained.com and I must say it lives up to the name.

Explanation of e: From the same site as before, a really good explanation of continuous growth and where e comes from.

Explanation of Euler’s formula: I read the two previous articles as a preparation for the sites explanation of Euler’s formula which states .

Then I have a link to a small note on evaluating infinite sums. Goes through different kinds of series and how to evaluate them

Then I found a blog post with the title “The weirdness of¬†infinity“, which talks about the mathematics of parallel mirrors. It is a rather interesting read.

That was it for now. I hope you enjoy the reading.

The photo is taken by Etrusia UK and shared under Creative commons license. The cropping I have made is shared under the same conditions.

Posted by Kristian in Other, 2 comments