## You're reading: Posts Tagged: Matt Parker

### Double Maths First Thing: Issue 1

Double Maths First Thing is Colin’s weekly news summary. Or autumnal, if you’re reading this after the equinox. You can sign up to receive it in your inbox on a Wednesday morning here.

Hello! My name is Colin and I am a mathematician. It’s Wednesday morning, and it’s Double Maths First Thing.

## Shape-ology

Over on the Talking Maths In Public WhatsApp group, we’ve been looking at collapsible polyhedra, which Barney Maunder-Taylor calls Flatonic Solids. He’s not the only one, though: here’s a satisfying Instagram reel and an article by Liz Meenan in case you want to make your own.

It also reminded me that you can do cool things with pop-ups, whether or not you have the book.

## Speaking of books

Tom Briggs has been compiling suggestions of maths books that aren’t about teaching. I’m given to believe he might be making his own addition to the list in due course.

Peter Rowlett and his son have been reading Gulliver’s Travels, and found an interesting early description of something computery. A biased generator of randomness that produces plausible English? I bet the venture capitalists would be all over that.

## Sudoku

I recently had cause to revisit the Miracle Sudoku video — memorably described at the time by Ben Orlin:

You’re about to spend the next 25 minutes watching a guy solve a sudoku.
Not only that, but it’s going to be the highlight of your day.

The highlight of my day recently was coming across Phistomephel’s ring, which is a neat consequence of standard sudoku rules.

Tony Mann pointed me at another Cracking the Cryptic video with the same energy — the frustrations and feelings of stupidity that come with not having the answer yet, followed by the sheer joy of having worked out something clever.

Another (and significantly shorter) video plausibly worth your time is Alyssa Williams and Christian Scott at G4G discussing how to set variant sudoku.

## Joy in maths

Back to taking pleasure in maths, here’s a short interview with Talithia Williams, PhD: I loved the bit about maths appreciation, and trying to change the mindset that maths is about doing calculations to pass a test.

Another article that caught my eye this week was about climbing. Or rather, spotting an error on the climbing wall and getting it fixed. It’s interesting for several reasons, but what grabbed my attention was what I think of as x-ray vision: the power to see that something looks off, and the insistence that it be put right. That strikes me as a very mathematical thing. (And, speaking for myself, possibly an autistic thing. Drives me MAD when people don’t care about breaking the rules, I tell you.)

This week, I have mostly been listening to:

I’ve not yet picked up the TMiP podcast, but we all should. And Sam Hansen would give me endless, deserved grief if I didn’t mention Relatively Prime.

Thanks to September ending on a Monday, the monthly MathsJam meet-up is coming around distressingly quickly — those that meet on the traditional penultimate Tuesday will do so on September 17th. You can find your local MathsJam here — I’ll be at the Weymouth one.

Also, if you’re planning to go to Big MathsJam in November, early-bird pricing ends on Sunday.

There’s a Finite Group livestream on Friday, September 13th at 9pm BST — Katie and Ayliean are putting the ‘fun’ into ‘fundamental theorems’, it says here.

That’s all for this week! If there’s something I should know about, you can find me on Mathstodon as @icecolbeveridge, or at my personal website.

Until next time,

C

### From Zero to Hero: a Euclidean proof

It used to live, unloved, in the A-level formula book: a mysterious result relating the area of a triangle to its sides. The most interesting thing about it was its name: Heron’s formula. (As far as I can make out, the chap’s name was Hero of Alexandria, and if you do a possessive in Greek it goes into the genitive case, which makes it Heron’s Formula. You might want to debate this; I regretfully decline.)

Love Triangle is available wherever good books etc. are, from June 20th – and signed preorders are available from Maths Gear

So there I was, peacefully proofreading Matt Parker’s forthcoming book Love Triangle when I was shocked by a vicious — and frankly unprovoked — assault on the very idea of Heron’s formula.

### Aperiodical News Roundup – January 2023

Here’s a round-up of news stories from January 2023.

## Maths forever news

The British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced that all students will study maths to age 18. The response has been varied, with commentators from both within mathematics and from non-mathematical backgrounds weighing in (with varying degrees of nuance).

However, this isn’t planned to happen soon – only to start the work to introduce this during this Parliament, with actual implementation to happen at an unspecified point in the future.

It’s worth noting that there is a shortage of maths teachers, with nearly half of schools currently using non-specialist maths teachers, according to the TES.

The fact this might make maths a political football is a bit of a problem – the opposition Labour party say “they’ve nothing to offer the country except double maths”. (As much as we love maths, we’ll agree there are more important things to worry about at the moment).

## Tech news

The Chrome browser, and eventually other browsers built on it such as Edge and Opera, can now render MathML without any additional libraries as of version 109. Chrome briefly had some support for MathML, which was removed in 2013 due to lack of interest from Google. The developers who were working on it have kept plugging away, funded by the open source software consultancy Igalia.

Until now, the only reliable way to display mathematical notation on the web has been to use a JavaScript library such as MathJax or KaTeX, which do all the work of laying out symbols using generic HTML elements.

Now, you can just put MathML code in a page and expect most browsers to display it, like this:

$\int \frac{1}{{x}^{2}+1}$

There’s still a need for MathJax and the like: writing MathML code is no fun, so they’re still useful for translating LaTeX code, and MathJax adds a range of annotations that help with accessibility. But this is a step towards mathematical notation being much easier to work with on the web!

## Other news

The US National Academies have released a series of posters “Illustrating the impact of the mathematical sciences”.

CLP’s place of work still has some Millennium Maths Project posters clinging on to the walls, older than almost all of the students, so maybe it’s time for a refresh! (via Terence Tao)

A bit of bureaucracy news: the Council for the Mathematical Sciences, comprising the five learned societies for maths and stats in the UK, is creating a new Academy for the Mathematical Sciences. It looks like the societies for the different sub-disciplines have acknowledged they need to work together, though this gives off a “now you have n+1 standards” smell. They’ve got a nice logo, though.

The Financial Times style guide changed so that ‘data’ is always singular, pragmatically following common usage. FT writer Alan Beattie said it best: “For anyone opposed, I’d like to know what your agendum is.

## Events

The London Mathematical Society will hold a ceremony in London on 22nd March to officially award the Christopher Zeeman medal to the 2020 and 2022 medallists, Matt Parker and Simon Singh.

The ICMS in Edinburhgh has launched a “Maths for Humanity” initiative, which will be “devoted to education, research, and scholarly exchange having direct relevance to the ways in which mathematics, broadly construed, can contribute to the betterment of humanity.” (via Terence Tao)

## And finally

Yuri Marin has died. The Max Planck Institute has posted an obituary describing his life’s work. One of his PhD students, Arend Bayer, collected some memories in a Mastodon thread.

William ‘Bill’ Lawvere has died. There is a page on the nLab describing his life’s work.

### An incorrect model of the lottery, and when it doesn’t matter

Recently I came across an interesting idea about little mistakes in counting problems that actually don’t amount to much. In A Problem Squared 030, Matt Parker was investigating the question “What are the odds of having the same child twice?” and made some simplifying assumptions when thinking about DNA combinatorics. He justified leaving out a small number of things when counting an astronomical number of things by going through an example from the lottery.

The current UK lottery uses 59 balls and draws 6 of these, so the one in 45 million figure arises from $$\binom{59}{6}=45,\!057,\!474$$, and the probability of winning is a tiny

$\frac{1}{45057474} = 0.00000002219387620 \text{.}$

Matt posits the idea that somewhere along the way we forget to include some tickets.

But let’s say along the way while I’m working it out, for strange reasons I go ‘oh you know what, I’m going to ignore all the options which are all square numbers. You know, I just can’t be bothered including them. Yeah, they’re legitimate lottery tickets, but just to make the maths easier I’m going to ignore them’. And people are getting up in arms, and they’re like ‘you can’t ignore them, they’re real options’.

Between the three Aperiodical editors (myself, Christian Lawson-Perfect and Peter Rowlett), there’s a developing tradition of excellent mathematical gift-giving. This year, Christian has excelled himself by designing and creating a brilliant mathematical hoodie, which features a meme about an in-joke (and who can resist either a meme or an in-joke?)

### Podcasting About: A Podcast of Unnecessary Detail

In this series of posts, we’ll be featuring mathematical podcasts from all over the internet, by speaking to the creators of the podcast and asking them about what they do.

We spoke to Helen Arney, Steve Mould and Matt Parker, the three members of science comedy trio Festival of the Spoken Nerd, about their new podcast, A Podcast of Unnecessary Detail.

### Podcasting about: A Problem Squared

In this series of posts, we’ll be featuring mathematical podcasts from all over the internet, by speaking to the creators of the podcast and asking them about what they do.

We spoke to comedian and presenter Bec Hill about the podcast she co-hosts with stand-up mathematician Matt Parker, in which they solve problems.