Math

More coming soon, I promise! I’ve been busy working on my thesis, but I hope at some point soon to have enough time to write some expositions about interesting topics in math. There are also a few essays that I hope to write about math; hopefully I’ll get around to these eventually. Many of the posts in the Economics, Linguistics, Technology, and Gamut categories are implicitly mathematical; only sometimes will I cross-list them here (even if they aren’t explicitly math in more traditional taxonomies). Posts in the subcategory Probability are also included here.

Links: Crowds and the Recession, Snowden, Win $1 Million with Circuits, Social Choice Theory, and More

As promised, more substantive posts (including a reflection on my freshman seminar on math, linguistics, and writing) to come soon, once I finish my thesis.1 For now, assorted links accrued over procrastination during thesis-writing. Terry Tao has a really cool…

Links: The Future of the Left, Tech Intellectuals, Self-Serve Gas Stations, Etc

Simon Winchester, My First Mistake. An article by Peter Beinart on the future of the left. Paul Berman argues for music lessons. Is anyone else as confused as I am about how it’s possible that a new ligament in the…

An Update on My Math & Linguistics Freshman Writing Course

I thought I should provide a quick update on the freshman writing course I’m teaching this fall, Language, Logic and Information: Using Mathematics to Understand Writing, Communication and Argument. (For more, take a look at the website for the course,…

On Education Studies and the Problem of High Dimensions: A Plea for Wisdom and Judgment

As I think and read about various educational approaches (in the process of preparing for the course I’m teaching in the fall about math and writing), I sometimes see studies with conclusions like this: Students who were taught using method…

The Potsdam Miracle: Lessons in Revolutionizing Undergraduate Mathematics

(There’s a printer- and footnote-friendly pdf version—with links still working!—here if you prefer.) A few days ago, while browsing in the library,1 I stumbled across something pretty remarkable. John Poland, writing in 1987 about this “Modern Fairy Tale”, describes the…

Math, Writing, and the World: The Freshman Writing Course I’m Teaching in the Fall

(There’s a printer- and footnote-friendly pdf version—with links still working!—here if you prefer.) This fall, I’m teaching a freshman writing course at the University of Michigan.1 I’ll be writing a lot about this course and related topics over the coming…

Links: Probability and DNA Testing, 16th Century Executioners, Walmart as a Bank, Etc.

Jordan Ellenberg has an excellent article in Slate about probability and DNA testing for crimes. This is important to think about, especially as we consider the implications of the recent Supreme Court decision on such testing. (In particular, the larger…

Links: Number Theory, Mel Brooks, Garden Hermits, Gay Marriage, Passwords, etc

I promise to have some real posts soon—an announcement describing my freshman writing course about math, and a two-part series on the late economist Albert Hirschman, including a discussion of how his theories apply to the tech world—but for now…

The Irrationality of Committees and Courts: A Voting Paradox

Many things in life are decided by groups of people making judgments together—in courts, committees, board rooms, legislatures, etc. Collective decision-making has much to recommend it: groups of people can pool their wisdom, no one person can rule by fiat,…