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Moneyball

This weekend, mathematics played a supporting role to Brad Pitt in one of fall’s first critical darlings, Moneyball. Based on the Michael Lewis book of the same name, the film profiles the Oakland A’s during their 2002 bid for World Series glory. What allegedly separates their story from the story of other teams during that season is the way General Manager Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, deals with the budget constraints imposed on him by the team’s owners.

With a payroll roughly a third the size of the Yankees’, Beane understood that the playing field was not a level one from an economic standpoint. What’s more, at the end of the 2001 season, three of the A’s star players left Oakland for bigger paychecks. To fill the void, the film (and book) show how Beane took a more analytic approach, and used statistical analysis . . . → Read More: Moneyball

Wedding Mathematics, Part 3

Today I would like to wrap up my series on mathematics and weddings (a series begun here and continued here) with a little advice for soon-to-be brides and grooms who are looking to integrate some math into their celebrations. If this describes you, then congratulations – not only on your upcoming nuptials, but also on the classy way you are looking to celebrate them.

For our own wedding, my bride and I decided it would be natural to incorporate some mathematics into the table numbers. There is some freedom in how one decides to do this. For example, we initially toyed with the idea of using numbers for the tables that were somehow significant to us and our relationship, but found it too difficult to come up with examples meeting this criterion. If one wants intrinsically interesting numbers, there are many examples among the whole numbers (I was particularly fond . . . → Read More: Wedding Mathematics, Part 3

Wedding Planning and the Ménage Problem

Last month I wrote a wedding-themed post on some statistics behind the show Four Weddings. Now, fully refreshed from my own two week honeymoon, I would like to take some time to discuss some other areas of intersection between weddings and mathematics.

One of the things I most looked forward to during the planning of our wedding was the determination of the seating chart. Searching for an optimal arrangement given peoples’ preferences to sit next to their friends and away from their enemies was a fun little challenge. In the end, though, perhaps I made things too easy on myself. Although I assigned people to specific tables, I did not assign seats within the tables themselves. Instead, people were free to sit however they chose once they found their table.

An example of our seating. Hat tip to Dave Gilbert for the shot!

Were I truly a glutton for . . . → Read More: Wedding Planning and the Ménage Problem