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Shoes and partition numbers: a developing mathematical mind wanders

Does this picture make you think of Srinvasa Ramanujan? I’m always fascinated by the pace and range of little conversations with my seven-year-old son that wander in and out of maths. Let me tell you how we got there during a five minute chat while leaving the house and walking to school this morning.

Two shoes, one slightly larger than the other

Twitter and Mathstodon

Some thinking aloud about what’s happening on social media in my world, I hope you don’t mind.

Mathstodon page showing post by @peterrowlett with text "Nice to see hashtags like #MTBoS #ITeachMath starting to appear here. Are we going to do #tmwyk?"

customdice: a new LaTeX package for drawing dice

dice, regular ones and ones with different symbols on their faces, in multiple colours

I made a new LaTeX package for drawing dice, customdice.

Mathematical Objects: Fingers with Ben Orlin

Mathematical Objects

A conversation about mathematics inspired by some fingers. Presented by Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett, with special guest Ben Orlin. Ben’s new book is Math Games with Bad Drawings.


Mathematical Objects: Quarto

Mathematical Objects

A conversation about mathematics inspired by the game Quarto. Presented by Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett.

Quarto board and pieces

What does craiyon/DALL·E mini ‘think’ mathematics and mathematicians look like?

You may have seen DALL·E mini posts appearing on social media for a little while now – it’s been viral for a couple of weeks, according to Know Your Meme. It’s an artificial intelligence model for producing images, operating as an open-source project mimicking the DALL·E system from company OpenAI but trained on a smaller dataset. Actually, since I had a play with this yesterday it’s renamed itself at the request of OpenAI and is now called craiyon. Since the requests all take between 1-3 mins to generate, I’m not going to re-generate all the images in this post using craiyon so that’s why they have the old ‘DALL·E mini’ branding.

AI image generation is a massively impressive technical achievement, of course. craiyon doesn’t create as stunning images as DALL·E 2, but still it can create some ‘wow’s.

What’s interesting, sometimes, is how it interprets a prompt. The data craiyon is trained on is “unfiltered data from the Internet, limited to pictures with English descriptions” according to the project’s statement on bias, and this can lead to problems including that the images may “reinforce or exacerbate societal biases”.

To see that in action, we can take a look at how the model manifests cultural expression around mathematics. When I gave it the simple prompt ‘mathematics’, it produced this.