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The Chris Tarrant Problem

This is a puzzle I presented at the MathsJam conference. It’s a problem that gave me a headache for a week or so, and I thought others might enjoy it, too. I do know the answer, but I’m not going to give it away — you can tweet me @icecolbeveridge if you want to discuss your theories! (As Colin Wright says: don’t tell people the answer).

You’ve heard of the Monty Hall Problem, right?

MathsJam Conference 2013: early-bird discount has ended

Unlike good news websites, we’re reporting this after it’s useful: if you wanted to book for this year’s MathsJam annual conference at the discounted 10% off early-bird rate, you’re now NOT able to do so. However, there are still a few places left, although not many, so if you do want to join in with a weekend of fun maths and hanging out with cool people, you should get in there as quickly as possible. 

The MathsJam conference takes place on the weekend of 2-3 November, 2013. Between now and then, there’s only one monthly pub-based MathsJam meetup, which will be on 22nd October in a pub near you.

As if that weren’t enough, there’s even more opportunities to Jam with Maths, in particular if you happen to be in or near Manchester. The Manchester Science Festival takes place in October, and there’ll be an extra one-off big MathsJam in Manchester during the festival, which will take place on 29th October (yes, that’s between the monthly Jam and the conference). The people of Manchester can’t get enough maths, it seems, and if you’re in the area or will be for the science festival, feel free to join them for a night of lighting talks, celebrity spotting and maths puzzles. For more information, visit the Manchester Science Festival website, or read the same copy on the MathsJam site.

More information

Information and registration for the MathsJam conference.

The monthly MathsJams.

Special extra MathsJam at Manchester Science Festival.

MathsJam Conference Website: Nice

MathsJam 2011. Photo: Costel HarnaszMaths news, of a sort! The MathsJam conference, which takes place in November and brings together recreational maths nuts from all over the UK and world, has now got a new improved website.

MathsJam is a monthly pub night for maths fans, where people can come together and share puzzles, games, problems or anything they think is cool or interesting. It meets in over 30 locations worldwide, on the same date, the second-to-last Tuesday of the month. It’s also an annual conference, now in its fourth year.

The new website was launched on Sunday, and as well as being a place where you can find out about booking for the conference and see details of the weekend, you can also find a full list of past conference talks – titles, blurbs and links to slides where possible. So, if you find yourself trying to remember something amazing which you think someone talked about at the MathsJam conference, you can now find it there.

The conference website can be found at www.mathsjam.com/conference. To find out more about the monthly MathsJams, visit www.mathsjam.com.

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.

AS maths results and batting averages

Phil Harvey gave a talk on this subject at last November’s MathsJam conference. We liked it so much, we asked him if we could put it on the site. Phil’s kindly written his talk up as an essay for us.

I am 64¼ years old and I’ve been a maths teacher all my working life. In that time things have changed. Long gone are the days when gowned masters would sweep in, silence any murmur with half a raised eyebrow, and delight compliant uniformed schoolchildren with chalk-covered boards of mathematical exposition.

No, you’re right. That never happened outside the covers of Goodbye Mr Chips, even in my day.

The reality then. Schoolchildren have morphed into learners. Exam results rule. Quality (in the sense that Orwell might have used the word) is managed by quality managers. And so our working lives are driven by the pursuit of Ofsted targets, success rates, achievement rates, benchmarks, observation grades, results. And every joyless lesson has its own lesson plan, with aims, objectives, learning outcomes and action points. But above all, those damned results – and every year, year after year, they had to IMPROVE.

Well I was no good at any of this stuff – and consequently I always got on very badly with my managers. Until one year…

Videos from MathsJam 2012

While we were at the big MathsJam conference a few weekends ago, we took the opportunity to point a camera in people’s faces and ask them to tell us something interesting. Because of the high quality of MathsJam attendees, this went better than it would in most other contexts.

Here’s a collection of clips we recorded while people were digesting both their dinners and the first day’s talks.

[youtube url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fg_IeC1M5D4]

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