## Mathalicious Post: Most Expensive. Collectibles. Ever.

Hey y’all.  My most recent post on the Mathalicious blog has been live for a while, but in case you missed it, I’d encourage you to go check it out!  Consider it a Simpsons themed cautionary tale for collectors on a budget.  Here’s a sample:

One of the more recent trends in the world of Simpsons memorabilia is the advent of the Mini-Figure collections, produced by Kidrobot.  Each series (there have been two so far) consists of around 25 small Simpsons figures, each with his or her own accessories.  The figures cost around \$10 each (\$9.95, to be precise), so an avid collector would need to spend something like \$250 to complete each of the two collections, right?

Well, not quite.  When you buy one of these figures, you have no idea which one you’ll get, because the box containing the figure doesn’t indicate what’s inside.  All you know are the probabilities for each figure, . . . → Read More: Mathalicious Post: Most Expensive. Collectibles. Ever.

## Mathalicious Post: Doubling Down

My latest entry on the Mathalicious blog riffs on the strategy of doubling down, using the film Swingers as a jumping off point.  Here’s a preview:

“You always double down on 11, baby.”  Sage advice from Vince Vaughn’s character in the 1996 film Swingers.  At one point in the film, Trent (played by Vaughn) and Mike (played by Jon Favreau) make an impromptu trip to Las Vegas, and Mike ends up completely out of his depths at a high-stakes blackjack table…Mike receives a six and a five, giving him a total of eleven.  Trent urges him to double down, and indeed, this seems like good advice.  After all, in a deck of 52 cards, 16 of them have a value of 10 – that’s over 30%!  Always doubling down on eleven is also consistent with the basic blackjack strategy popularized by Edward O. Thorp in his book Beat the Dealer.  From a mathematical standpoint, Trent . . . → Read More: Mathalicious Post: Doubling Down

## Mathalicious Post: To Foul Or Not To Foul

Greetings, mathletes. As some of you know, I’ve recently joined the crew of good folks at Mathalicious. Consequently, the blog work here is in a bit of a transition, but don’t worry! I will still be around, though the focus may shift somewhat.

How Math Goes Pop! will be changing is the subject for another post. One thing’s for sure, though: I’ll be contributing to the Mathalicious blog regularly. My first post, on whether or not it makes sense to foul the opposing team at the buzzer in a close basketball game, went live last week. Here’s a small sample:

A three point shot by Sundiata Gaines turned a two-point loss for the Jazz into a one-point win. No doubt that’s a tough defeat for Cavs fans and players alike, but in such a situation, there’s really nothing the defense could’ve done to change the outcome.

Or is . . . → Read More: Mathalicious Post: To Foul Or Not To Foul

## CNN Light Years Guest Post: How Professors’ Dads Made Math Fun

Hi all,

This weekend’s Father’s Day celebrations have inspired my monthly article over at the CNN Light Years blog.  Here’s a sample:

There are many misconceptions about mathematicians in popular culture. For example, windows and mirrors do not make for the best writing surfaces, despite what you might assume from “A Beautiful Mind” or “Good Will Hunting.”

Mathematicians are also frequently portrayed as painfully socially awkward. And while this is sometimes the case, the true range of personality types is much more varied. Even among the more socially awkward, it is not uncommon for mathematicians to fall in love, marry and start a family.

What must it be like to grow up in a household with a mathematician? In the spirit of Father’s Day, I spoke with two mathematicians whose fathers were also mathematicians about what it’s like being raised in a mathematical household

Click here for . . . → Read More: CNN Light Years Guest Post: How Professors’ Dads Made Math Fun

## CNN Light Years Guest Post: Did ‘Avengers’ really own box office records?

Over at CNN this month, I talk about the phenomenal success of Marvel’s The Avengers in its stampede over old box office records.  But how much stock should we put in these records?  Is this blockbuster really the top dog in the record books?  Here’s a sneak preview of the article:

When the Avengers assemble, the world opens its collective wallet.  In just under three weeks since its international opening, “Marvel’s The Avengers” has earned more than \$1 billion worldwide.  In America, it blew through the \$200 million mark over opening weekend alone, and now holds the title of best three-day opening in film history.  Or does it?

While dollar signs fuel the engine of Hollywood movie production, they are not necessarily the most objective measure of a film’s success.  Most importantly, the dollar is not a static unit of measurement like the meter; as a result of inflation, a dollar in 2008

## CNN Light Years guest post: Data: It’s how stores know you’re pregnant

In honor of this year’s Mathematics Awareness Month, titled “Mathematics, Statistics, and the Data Deluge,”  I’ve contributed an article to CNN’s Light Years blog on how corporations might use big data to infer personal details about its customers.  Mostly this was inspired by the recent New York Times investigation on how Target collects and uses customer data.  Here’s an excerpt:

Whether you are trying to make the best decisions for your fantasy baseball league, looking to capitalize on an opportunity in a fluctuating stock market or simply filtering through the results of a Google search, it is hard to deny that we are surrounded by more data now than ever before.  As such, the task of organizing and drawing conclusions from data can be a challenge, but thankfully mathematics can, in many cases, rise to the occasion.

Want to read more?  Click here to go to . . . → Read More: CNN Light Years guest post: Data: It’s how stores know you’re pregnant

## CNN Light Years guest post: Why a different voting system might be better

Hi Everyone,

In an attempt to spread the joy and cheer of mathematics to a broader audience, starting this month, I will occasionally be writing articles for CNN’s new science and technology blog, Light Years.  Fear not, most of my content will still be appearing at Math Goes Pop, and every time one of my guest posts goes live, I will let you know about it here as well.  Today the topic is voting systems, something I have discussed on this blog before.  Here’s a piece of the intro to pique your interest:

When the results of an election (primary or otherwise) run counter to our desires, it is easy to scapegoat the political process.  The right person didn’t win, we may argue, because the system itself is broken.  The two-party system, for example, is sometimes cited as a leading cause of the current dysfunction in Washington.  But perhaps much of what ails the political