Removing four lines at once with an I-piece in Tetris is the most efficient way to score, which creates a tension: on one hand, you want to build high enough to score quickly, but on the other, building too high puts you at risk of ending the game. The balance between the two is exquisite.
I mention that, because I was about to grumble that the corresponding balance in MEI Maths’s new game app thingummy Factris isn’t quite as good – of course it isn’t. Nothing ever will be.
I’d have written it as $r = 1 – \theta$, myself, but even then it’s not much of a heart. However, that’s pretty much my biggest gripe about this episode, the penultimate in series 2 of Samuel Hansen’s one-of-a-kind mathematics podcast, Relatively Prime.
Episode 7 is subtitled “Dating in the mathematical domain”, and looks at the maths involved in dating and relationships, and begins with some of the comments Sam’s dating profile received from non-mathematicians. Now, denizens of the dating world: Samuel has many flaws and failings; picking on the fact that he’s a mathematician seems a little arbitrary and unfair, like deciding not to vote for Donald Trump because you don’t like his tie. I have this unfamiliar sensation. Could it be… surely not? It appears that I feel a little sorry for Samuel. Don’t tell him, ok?
I’ve been looking forward to this one: cities in the mathematical domain. This is the kind of applied maths I can really get behind.
Samuel starts with Mike Batty of University College, London’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis discussing how cities grow and organise themselves. The structure is frequently fractal; how does one calculate the dimension of a city?
From a top-level view of cities, he moves on to a low-level description of one of the biggest problem in cities: traffic (another thing that fascinates me). We get a glimpse of traffic waves, and the unfairness that the person responsible for the average jam doesn’t suffer from the effects. And we learn that Gábor Orosz (University of Michigan) tests his hypotheses using robots as well as simulations.
For about 40 minutes of this week’s episode of Relatively Prime (Number 5 of 8, already? Good heavens!), Samuel Hansen looks like he’s managed to escape from his shameful, borderline criminal, past in Las Vegas. But he’s pulled back in for one last job, which is a debacle, of course.
On top of the usual disclosures, I should add that Dave Gale and I interviewed Samuel Hansen this week for our Wrong, But Useful podcast, which you might like to listen to for a deeper insight into Samuel’s brain.
I have to say, I chuckled: the week Relatively Prime hits ‘noteworthy’ on iTunes is the week Samuel discusses using maths to do well in popularity contests. Coincidence? I think not.
To me, episode 3 of the second series represents something of a return to form for one of the top half-dozen maths podcasts around; whether this is because I’m a fan of political maths or because it’s genuinely really good is a) difficult to tell because I’m biased and b) a false dichotomy.