School shootings, mathematics edition

I always hated square roots; we should ban them, for the sake of the children: On the afternoon of Feb. 20, detectives investigated a report of terroristic threats at the school, where they learned that a student had been completing a math problem that required drawing the square-root sign. Students in the group began commenting that the symbol, which represents a number that when multiplied by...

Who knew Art Garfunkel was a mathematician?

He also does a lot of mathematics, having read it as a student at Columbia. “I’m precise. I think in proportions. I play games with numbers and I proportionalise. I imagine we have now done 1/8th of our interview.” I check my watch. He even took a job as a maths teacher at one point, in the Seventies, despite being a world famous pop star. “I’d just got married and moved to Connecticut, and there...

The key to Napoleon’s success

Napoleon excelled at mathematics. ‘To be a good general you must know mathematics,’ he later observed, ‘it serves to direct your thinking in a thousand circumstances.’ He was helped by his prodigious memory. ‘A singular thing about me is my memory,’ he once boasted. ‘As a boy I knew the logarithms of thirty or forty numbers.’ Napoleon was given...

Mathematics via mime

This article has inspired me to teach my entire causal inference class next fall via mime: Without saying a word, a man walks on stage carrying a case full of small plungers. Each time he reaches in the case to take some plungers out, he tries to array them in order on a table in front of him, but he always has one left over. Five, seven, 13: No matter what number, there is still that one left...

About me


Professor and quant guy. Libertarian turned populist Republican. Trying to learn Japanese and play Spanish Baroque music on the ukulele.

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