You're reading: Posts By Christian Lawson-Perfect

Timetabling choreography with maths

Earlier this week my sister-in-law (“SIL” from now on) sent me an email asking for help. She’s a dance teacher, and her class need to rehearse their group pieces before their exam. She’d been trying to work out how to timetable the groups’ rehearsals, and couldn’t make it all fit together. So of course, she asked her friendly neighbourhood mathmo for help.

My initial reply was cheery and optimistic. It’s always good to let people think you know what you’re doing: much like one of Evel Knievel’s stunts, it makes you look even better on the occasions you succeed.

I’d half-remembered Katie’s friend’s Dad’s golf tournament problem and made a guess about the root of the difficulty she was having, but on closer inspection it wasn’t quite the same. I’m going to try to recount the process of coming up with an answer as it happened, with wrong turns and half-baked ideas included.

The 12th Polymath project has started: resolve Rota’s basis conjecture

Timothy Chow of MIT has proposed a new Polymath project: resolve Rota’s basis conjecture.

What’s that? It’s this:

… if $B_1$, $B_2$, $\ldots$, $B_n$ are $n$ bases of an $n$-dimensional vector space $V$ (not necessarily distinct or disjoint), then there exists an $n \times n$ grid of vectors ($v_{ij}$) such that

1. the $n$ vectors in row $i$ are the members of the $i$th basis $B_i$ (in some order), and

2. in each column of the matrix, the $n$ vectors in that column form a basis of $V$.

Easy to state, but apparently hard to prove!

Watch this bold decision-maker score 100 at the “is this prime?” game

Fan of the site Ravi Fernando has written in to tell us about his high score at the “is this prime?” game: a cool century!

I’ve been a fan of your “Is this prime?” game for a while, and after seeing your blog post from last May, I thought I’d say hi and send you some high scores.  Until recently, my record was 89 numbers (last March 12), which I think may be the dot in the top right of your “human scores” graph.  But I tried playing some more a couple weeks ago, and I found I can go a little faster using my computer’s y/n buttons instead of my phone’s touch screen.  It turns out 100 numbers is possible!

Watch in amazement:

But, to the delight of prime fans everywhere, he didn’t stop there:

Today I even got 107 – good to have a prime record again.

Well done, Ravi!

Now is a good time to point out that the data on every attempt ever made at the game is available to download, in case you want to do your own analysis: at time of writing, there have been over 625,000 attempts, and 51 is still the number that catches people out the most.

George Boole statue to be erected in Lincoln

It was George Boole’s bicentenary in 2015, so the Heslam Trust is a bit slow to reveal its plans to erect a statue of the great man in his home town of Lincoln.

The sculptors, Martin Jennings and Antony Dufort, have come up with a few designs for the statue, and they’d like the public to vote for their favourite.

There’s already a bust of Boole in University College, Cork, installed in plenty of time for the bicentenary. Here’s a picture of me and HRH Poppy Dog standing next to it, last Summer.

More information

Lincoln maths genius to get statue in city – and here are the designs at LincolnshireLive

Proposals for George Boole monument on the City of Lincoln council website

View the proposals and vote