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Introducing The Aperiodical

You may have noticed a new look here on Travels in a Mathematical World. For a while this blog was designed to look like a page from my website, but now it is different. This is because I have joined Katie Steckles and Christian Perfect in a collaborative blogging endeavour we’re calling The Aperiodical.

A launch post over at The Aperiodical says

The Aperiodical is a new maths magazine/blog aimed at people interested in mathematics who want to read stuff. We post news stories related to maths, opinion pieces, interesting things we’ve found, accounts of monthly MathsJams, maths videos, and feature articles, as well as posts from our own blogs. We also host the Carnival of Mathematics, a monthly blogging carnival.

We’ve picked today to launch as it is the anniversary of Felix Klein’s birth, and we offer some shiny Klein goodies to get started. Matt Parker and Katie Steckles investigate the amazing surface which bears his name in a video ‘Top N Facts about the Klein Bottle‘.

This got us wondering – what did Klein do apart from that ever famous bottle? Christian, Katie and I investigated and found an interesting career both in research mathematics and other contributions to the discipline, including excellent teaching, editorship of a famous journal and encyclopaedia, acting on a strong interest in school teaching and promoting mathematics to the general public. We wrote up what we found in ‘Klein: outside the bottle‘.

But we aren’t just writing our own posts on the site. We’re also keen to publish reports, exposition, videos, or anything mathematical and interesting that you want to share. Recently we’ve carried interesting pieces by Andrew Taylor offering an application of Grime Dice to electoral reform (as heard on the BBC’s Material World) and Paul Taylor on how he devised the Hilbert’s Space-Filling Crossword on our Features feed. If you’d like to write something please get in touch.

You can find out more about the approach we’re taking with The Aperiodical, view pages and get RSS feeds for all our different types of post, and much more by reading the launch post: The Aperiodical.

Carnival of Mathematics in a world

For a while now (what, over a year?) the folks at have been choosing their weekly ‘picks’ of the blogs coming through their aggregator. The promise at the start of each post has amazed me:

We try to read every blog post that goes through For the Weekly Picks, we collect posts from last week that give you an impression of what the mathematical blogosphere has to offer.

This, to me, seems an incomprehensibly difficult task. There’s so much out there and a massive selection of blogs are now indexed at the site. In light of this resource, our current attempt to revive the Carnival of Mathematics did leave me wondering whether we were barking up the wrong tree in ‘a world’.

Now the incredible level of effort that must be needed for this ever-increasing task has proven unsustainable. In a post entitled “The Weekly Picks are dead, long live the Weekly Picks“, Peter Krautzberger outlines a plan to cope with this:

The goal of the Weekly Picks has always been to show off the wealth of the mathematical blogosphere and to offer an accessible introduction to the various types of mathematical blogs out there…
For the next few weeks, we will focus the Weekly Picks on a different category each week.  This will give us the room to present the full spectrum of the community.

This seems to be a reasonable plan to deal with this ever-growing task, and I’m delighted to hear the folks are human after all! However, there is a problem:

We realize this means we might be missing some great posts that just happen to appear on a week where we do not cover that category.

Aha, here is somewhere the Carnival can step in. If you feel a post you’ve written has been overlooked because wasn’t looking at your type of blog this week, you can submit it to the Carnival of Mathematics. (Of course, it’s then up to the current host to decide whether to include it.)

This approach has its problems too – much is missed, or determined by various biases or whether bloggers have heard of it or remember to submit. But while the ‘weekly picks’ represents a completist approach now focused on each category in turn, the Carnival attempts to catch the best posts across all with its anarchic, community-led method. Perhaps there is room in the world for both approaches, after all.

Reviving the Carnival of Mathematics

Those keeping score may have noticed there hasn’t been a new Carnival of Mathematics for a while. I’ve agreed to take a small part in running it from now on with Katie Steckles and Christian Perfect, as part of a secret new project we’re plotting. To get the ball rolling again, I’ve volunteered to host a new Carnival.

What is the Carnival of Mathematics? It’s a monthly (ish) mathematical blogging roundup. Here’s a description:

The Carnival of Mathematics accepts any mathematics-related blog posts: explanations of serious mathematics, puzzles, writing about mathematics education, mathematical anecdotes, refutations of bad mathematics, applications, reviews, etc. Sufficiently mathematized portions of other disciplines are also acceptable.

The previous Carnival of Mathematics was number 84, posted at Mathematics and Multimedia in December. So this is an announcement that the Carnival of Mathematics 85 will be hosted here on Travels in a Mathematical World in April. Please get your posts in by 2nd April. To submit articles, Katie has made a form which you should find embedded below or on the Carnival of Mathematics submission form.

You may recommend a post from your blog or a favourite you have read elsewhere. It’s helpful if you would put something in the comments box about the post and why you submitted it.

You can help by blogging, tweeting, etc. a link to this page or the submission form. Thank you!

Update (21/03/2012): Just to note that Mike Croucher, previous curator of the Carnival, has posted a blog post about the new arrangements: Carnival of Mathematics – The Next Generation.