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MathsJam Conference 2013 – registration now open


Last year's MathsJam conference. Photo by John Histed

As well as being an excellent monthly pub-based meeting, MathsJam also has an annual conference, which takes place every November. Registration is now open for the 2013 conference, which takes place on 2nd and 3rd November.

MathsJam is an opportunity for like-minded self-confessed maths enthusiasts to get together in a pub and share stuff they like. Puzzles, games, problems, or just anything they think is cool or interesting. The annual conference is a weekend of lightning talks, where you can show or demonstrate something you want to share, followed by lengthy coffee breaks for conversation and socialising. And coffee.

Details about the conference, as well as the chance to register and secure your place, can be found at the MathsJam conference website.

All Squared, Number 5: Favourite maths books (part 1)

Portrait of Luca Pacioli by Jacopo de' Barbari

Good maths books are simultaneously plentiful and rare. While there are a few classics almost everyone knows about and has copies of (Gardner, Hardy, etc.), the trade in lesser-known maths books is considerably less well-organised. Very few bookshops have well-stocked maths sections, and insipid pop maths books dominate. Unless you hear about a good maths book through word of mouth, you’ll often only encounter it once it’s ended up in a second-hand bookshop, usually a refugee from an emptied maths department library.

But books, more than anything else, are where the beauty of maths really manifests itself. It’s where ideas are presented most clearly, after they’ve had time to percolate through a few more brains. We talked to David Singmaster, professor of maths and metagrobologist, about his favourite maths books.

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Carnival of Mathematics 98

The next issue of the Carnival of Mathematics, rounding up blog posts from the month of April, is now online at Andrew Taylor’s blog.

The Carnival rounds up maths blog posts from all over the internet, including some from our own Aperiodical. For more information about the Carnival of Mathematics, click here.

Monthly MathsJams – November 2012 Survey Data

Those of you with long, long memories (and who attend a MathsJam) may recall that back in November 2012, MathsJam HQ sent out a questionnaire to monthly regional meetups, with various questions about attendance and ping-pong balls. The purpose of the survey was to get a snapshot of what the monthly MathsJams are like, as well as to produce some spurious graphs. Christian and I, who run the Newcastle and Manchester MathsJams respectively, were tasked with analysing the data. Here are our findings!

Here’s How Little I See Your Point

You may have seen an article linked to last week, written by Jordan Weissmann at The Atlantic. The article was titled ‘Here’s How Little Math Americans Actually Use At Work‘, although mysteriously this journalist makes use of some mathematical analysis of survey data, and not only that, the data appears to show that 94% of Americans claim to use mathematics as part of their daily job.

The article discusses people’s misconceptions about the future utility of what they were learning, as well as the divide between using ‘any math’ and ‘advanced math’, which includes calculus, algebra and statistics. The number of Americans who admitted to using this type of maths appears to drop off once you get to anything more complicated than fractions, and also presented is an analysis of this divide by job type.

A very well-written and thoughtful response to this has already been posted at mathematics professor Bret Benesh’s blog, which gives four reasons why the article annoyed him (and probably several other people too).