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Math in the News(paper)

Last year, Professor Steven Strogatz of Cornell University wrote a series of op-eds for the New York Times that discussed the presence of mathematics in unlikely places. I discussed one of these columns here. Now, either those articles were well-received, or Professor Strogatz is well-connected, because this year he’s back in the Times with a much more ambitious series of articles. This time around, Strogatz is attempting to “[write] about the elements of mathematics, from preschool to grad school, for anyone out there who’d like to have a second chance at the subject.”

Preschool to grad school is a significant amount of ground to cover, but thus far Strogatz has used his articles to assault this goal with gusto. To date, he has tackled counting, patterns in addition, negative numbers, division, and basic high school algebra. This doesn’t really do justice to his content, though. Along the way he . . . → Read More: Math in the News(paper)

Math Gets Around in the Big City

Math has gotten a bit of a visibility boost recently, in the form of posts by professor Steven Strogatz at the New York Times blog. For three weeks, starting at the end of May, Professor Strogatz filled in for usual blogger Olivia Judson, and during that time he used the platform to write some highly readable musings that show the presence of mathematics in unlikely places, and touch on some of the directions math is headed in the 21st century.

Let me highlight the first post, titled “Math and the City.” Professor Strogatz begins this article by describing Zipf’s law, an observation attributed to linguist George Zipf regarding the distribution of words in a language (for a linguistic motivation, you can check the Wikipedia article on Zipf’s law).

One of these things is not like the other.

In the context of cities, the law states the following: in a given . . . → Read More: Math Gets Around in the Big City