Latest tweets

  • Loading tweets...

Putting the “e” in “The Simpsons”

I think we can safely agree that The Simpsons isn’t the show that it used to be, but there are moments when its former charm shines through. As it pertains to the material of this blog, I was particularly pleased with a joke that ran on their Christmas episode. I have been meaning to tip my hat to this joke for some time, but it has been hard to find a spare moment to do so.

The joke ran at the end of a muppet-themed segment of the show. In an homage to Sesame Street, after the segment finished (but before the somewhat racy joke involving a very physical muppet Moe) an announcer stopped to give thanks to the sponsors of the show. Unlike Sesame Street, however, which is sponsored every day by two letters and a number, this episode of The Simpsons was sponsored by . . . → Read More: Putting the “e” in “The Simpsons”

Addendum to Math Gets Around: The Humanities

Last week we discussed an example of when a mathematical background might prove useful even in the least quantitative of liberal arts courses. More specifically, we asked the question: if a teacher gives you a list of N questions, tells you that M will be on an exam, and you must answer K of the questions given on the exam, what’s the minimum number of questions you should prepare to guarantee that you will be able to answer K of the questions on the exam? (Answer: N + K – M.) We also looked at the question probabilistically – namely, we saw that of the questions appearing on the exam, the number that you’ve prepared for follows a hypergeometric distribution.

As a concrete example I considered the case N = 6, M = 5, K = 3 – in this case, the minimum number of questions you should prepare to . . . → Read More: Addendum to Math Gets Around: The Humanities

Math Gets Around: The Humanities

Unless you’re one of those suckers who goes to a school that administers final exams after the holidays (like I was), the few weeks after Thanksgiving can be quite a stressful time for students. Between exams, final papers, and working out holiday travel plans, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. For students with a quantitative bent, the days are undoubtedly spent in large part trying to memorize formulas or theorems, or on refining their understanding of certain problem-solving techniques that have been covered in their courses.

If your interests are more in line with the humanities, you may think that you are safe from the pull of mathematics. There are occasions, though, when a working knowledge of mathematics can help even in a liberal arts course.

Spicoli certainly could've benefitted from a stronger math background.

Consider the following example. Suppose you’re enrolled in a course for which the . . . → Read More: Math Gets Around: The Humanities