Latest tweets

  • Loading tweets...

Football Pools, Part 3

This is the third in a series of posts about pools used for betting on the outcome of football games (part one can be found here, and part two here). Let me briefly recall the setting, which is probably familiar to anyone who has been to a Super Bowl party. Typically, one bets on the outcome of a football game using a 10 x 10 grid. People can buy any number of the 100 squares on the grid, and when all the squares have been purchased, each row and each column is assigned a random digit from 0 to 9.

Suppose, for example, that you buy four squares, and after the rows and columns have been labeled, you find that you own square 3-7, square 2-5, square 9-0, and square 6-6. You will win money if, at the end of any one of the four quarters, the last digit . . . → Read More: Football Pools, Part 3


Hi everyone,

This is just a quick note to welcome you to the new Math Goes Pop! We are still tweaking the look of the site, but hope you enjoy the changes.

If you haven’t already done so, I’d encourage you to subscribe to the RSS feed. If you’re already subscribed, please check your feed URL, as it has now changed from the blogspot address. The new URL is Of course, you may find it easier to just subscribe via the link up top. I encourage you to do so!

e day?

If you come here regularly, you know of my complaints regarding so-called “math holidays” that get plenty of press, but rarely have anything to do with actual mathematics. The most well known is pi day, celebrated here in the states on March 14th, also known here as 3/14.

Aside from the mathematical arguments one can make for or against this holiday, there is a larger problem. It’s all well and good to celebrate pi day on the date representing the first three digits of pi, but this is only possible if we write dates in the MM/DD format. Most of the world, however, uses the (more logical) DD/MM format, therefore depriving them of such a delicious play on numbers. Many loyal international fans of this holiday no doubt decry the fact that April has only 30 days, for otherwise they could simply celebrate pi day on 31/4. As it is, . . . → Read More: e day?

Judge v. Justices

Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, it is not always easy to determine a person’s mathematical background based on his or her occupation. Sure, a burger flipper at McDonald’s may not look like the next Einstein, but how can you be sure she’s not just working a summer job to afford university? Conversely, just because someone is highly educated doesn’t mean he knows the difference between a prime and a composite number (although I’d argue that it should). Case in point: Supreme Court justices may or may not know the meaning of the word orthogonal. Here’s a snippet from the oral arguments in the case of Briscoe v. Virginia (courtesy of blog The Volokh Conspiracy):

MR. FRIEDMAN: I think that issue is entirely orthogonal to the issue here because the Commonwealth is acknowledging – CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: I’m sorry. Entirely what? MR. FRIEDMAN: Orthogonal. Right angle. . . . → Read More: Judge v. Justices

A Mathematical New Years Game

First, let me begin by wishing a happy 2010 to you all. If you celebrate the holidays the way I do, then the past few weeks have seen you spending time with friends and family. And if you really celebrate the holidays the way I do, then some of that time with friends and family will have been spent with mathematical puzzles.

Very recently I was with a group of friends, discussing all that would come to pass in this new year. One friend, whose anonymity I will preserve by referring to him only as “Smith,” was in the enviable position of being the only one among us whose age divided the current year (I won’t embarrass him by revealing his age, but given that it’s a divisor of 2010, this certainly restricts the possibilities). Once we realized this, it became natural to ask how common an occurrence this should . . . → Read More: A Mathematical New Years Game