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New York Times puzzle is pure game theory

Image CC-BY Raymond Bryson, f-oxymoron on FlickrThe Upshot is a column in the New York Times based around analytics, data and graphics. (It was conceived around the time when Nate Silver left to work for ESPN). Earlier this week, managing editor David Leonhardt and data journalist Kevin Quealy posted an interesting puzzle, entitled ‘Are You Smarter Than 49,485 other New York Times Readers?’

The puzzle consists of a simple question – you need to pick a number between 0 and 100, and all 49,485 of the responses will be collated (assuming that every single one of the Times’ readership actually enters a number) and averaged. If your guess turns out to be the closest whole number to two-thirds of the average guess, you are clever and you win.

New pentagonal tiling discovered

If you’re into tilings, or just looking to redo your bathroom in the most modern way possible, there’s big news. A team of researchers at the University of Washington-Bothell have discovered a previously unknown way to tile a plane using irregular pentagons.

Not mentioned on the Aperiodical, July 2015

Here’s a round-up of some of this month’s maths news.

The Princeton Companion to Applied Mathematics

Princeton Companion to Applied Mathematics - cover imageA group of applied mathematicians, including the University of Manchester’s Nick Higham, have been compiling a book on applied mathematics over the last few years, and they’ve announced it’s finally ready for publication. The book, which includes an introduction to applied mathematics, key concepts, and various examples of modelling problems, is aimed at undergraduate mathematicians and above (although some of the articles may be accessible to younger/lay readers) and comprises 186 articles by 165 authors from 23 countries. It’ll make a good companion (excuse the pun) to the Princeton Companion to Mathematics, edited by Tim Gowers and covering the pure end of the field. It will be published by Princeton University Press in September 2015.

English law hasn’t redefined the number one, but a journalist has discovered rounding

A recent court judgement ruled that the range “1 to 25″ can include the value 0.51, if you round to the nearest integer.

That’s a little bit interesting – it will certainly make people think twice before writing numbers in patents – but it’s been reported in the most fantastically mathematically illiterate fashion in The Independent, by someone who seems to have discovered what ’rounding’ is in the course of their research.

Read: What exactly does ‘one’ mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue, in The Independent

(Via Tony Mann on Twitter)

Mathesia

No, it’s not what happens when you try to do maths under pressure and forget everything you ever knew about calculus – Mathesia is a new crowdsourcing platform for mathematics, which companies can use to pitch mathematical problems to their collection of maths experts, who can then bid to be awarded the project. It also has a section for universities to advertise research posts.

One thing that does make me sad is that the site extensively uses the word ‘brainies’ to describe the mathematicians, and it looks like the pitchers are adopting this as standard terminology. Bit naff, right?