Sinopsis

Interviews with Mathematicians about their New Books

Episodios

  • Jordan Ellenberg, “How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking” (Penguin Press, 2014)

    Jordan Ellenberg, “How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking” (Penguin Press, 2014)

    08/07/2014 Duración: 54min

    The book discussed in this interview is How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking (Penguin Press, 2014), by Jordan Ellenberg.  This is one of those rare books that belong on the reading list of every educated person, especially those who love mathematics, but more importantly, those who hate it.  Ellenberg succeeds in explaining the value of mathematical reasoning without ever needing to go into technical detail, which makes the book ideal for those who want to learn why mathematics is so important.  What makes the book doubly delightful is Ellenberg’s writing style; he intersperses the math with amusing anecdotes, dispensed with a sense of humor rarely found in books such as this.  The book is chock-full of OMG moments; the introductory anecdote about Abraham Wald and the missing bullet holes absolutely whets the appetite for more and Ellenberg never fails to deliver.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Sue VanHattum, “Playing with Math: Stories from Math Circles, Homeschoolers, and Passionate Teachers” (Natural Math, 2015)

    Sue VanHattum, “Playing with Math: Stories from Math Circles, Homeschoolers, and Passionate Teachers” (Natural Math, 2015)

    26/06/2014 Duración: 01h01min

    [Re-published with permission from Inspired by Math] Sue VanHattum is a math professor, blogger, mother, author/editor, and fundraiser. She’s a real powerhouse of motivation for making math fun and accessible to more of our young folks. Sue has teamed up with a number of writers to compile a book, Playing With Math, which she is producing in partnership withMaria Droujkova in a community sponsored publication model. Sue and I shared a delightful chat about what math is, what the book is about, and how we can all get more inspired to engage in math with our kids. And, Sue sprinkles the conversation with some interesting open-ended math problems. Think part coffee table conversation part math circle.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Al Cuoco and Joe Rotman, “Learning Modern Algebra: From Early Attempts to Prove Fermat’s Last Theorem” (MAA, 2013)

    Al Cuoco and Joe Rotman, “Learning Modern Algebra: From Early Attempts to Prove Fermat’s Last Theorem” (MAA, 2013)

    20/06/2014 Duración: 01h14min

    [Re-published with permission from Inspired by Math] The MAA (Mathematical Association of America) sent me a review copy of their new book Learning Modern Algebra: From Early Attempts to Prove Fermat’s Last Theorem. I don’t typically review textbooks but the title and then the contents of the book convinced me that I needed to interview the authors. Joe Rotman wasn’t available but I was able to chat with the other co-author, Al Cuoco. I was really struck with Al’s passion about teaching the teachers as well as the students. Al shared some great insights about the ingredients that I think should go into every math textbook to help teachers and students to develop the right habits of mind to succeed. Here are some of the questions we discussed. 1. What is your background and your experience teaching high school math to students and to teachers? 2. I attended the Ross program and you have a key role in a program that has its roots in the Ross program. Tell me about this program and your i

  • David Reimer, “Count Like an Egyptian: A Hands-on Introduction to Ancient Mathematics” (Princeton UP, 2014)

    David Reimer, “Count Like an Egyptian: A Hands-on Introduction to Ancient Mathematics” (Princeton UP, 2014)

    09/06/2014 Duración: 01h16min

    [Re-posted with permission from Sol Lederman’s Wild About Math] I love novel ways of looking at arithmetic. I’m fascinated with how computers compute in binary, with tricks for simplifying calculations and with how Vedic mathematicians handle difficult arithmetic efficiently. So, when Princeton University Press sent me a review copy of their new book Count Like an Egyptian: A Hands-on Introduction to Ancient Mathematics (Princeton University Press, 2014), I immediately fell in love with it. I was delighted to learn even more techniques and the ideas behind them to deepen my appreciation of the beauty of what most consider to be mundane arithmetic. Count Like an Egyptian is a delightful book, full of color illustrations, fun stories, lots of hands-on exercises, and an appreciation for the power of simple but deep ideas. David Reimer was a pleasure to interview. He is a brilliant mathematician who hasn’t lost sight of the power and beauty of mathematics. He taught me and modeled that, despite

  • Peter Gardenfors, “The Geometry of Meaning: Semantics Based on Conceptual Spaces” (MIT Press, 2014)

    Peter Gardenfors, “The Geometry of Meaning: Semantics Based on Conceptual Spaces” (MIT Press, 2014)

    09/06/2014 Duración: 43min

    A conceptual space sounds like a rather nebulous thing, and basing a semantics on conceptual spaces sounds similarly nebulous. In The Geometry of Meaning: Semantics Based on Conceptual Spaces (MIT Press, 2014), Peter Gardenfors demonstrates that this need not be the case. Indeed, his research is directed towards establishing a formal, mathematically-grounded account of semantics, an account which – as expounded here – is nevertheless accessible. In this interview we discuss the essence of this proposal, focusing in particular on its implications for linguistic analysis, but also touching upon its relation to cognitive science and other related fields. The proposal makes testable predictions about the organization of individual linguistic systems, as well as their acquisition (and potentially their evolution over time). Notably, the “single domain constraint” posits that individual lexical items refer to convex regions of single domains. We discuss the significance of this idea as a bri

  • Oscar E. Fernandez, “Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us (Princeton UP, 2014)

    Oscar E. Fernandez, “Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us (Princeton UP, 2014)

    17/04/2014 Duración: 52min

    The book discussed in this interview is Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us (Princeton University Press, 2014) by Oscar E. Fernandez, who teaches mathematics – and calculus in particular – at Wellesley College.  While it can be read by someone who wants to obtain a sense of what calculus is and how it’s used, it is even more enjoyable and enlightening if the reader has taken the first semester of a calculus course.  The author takes the reader through a day in the author’s life, during which things one typically encounters – stock price quotations, cooling cups of coffee, getting good seats at a movie – afford an opportunity to investigate how calculus explains these everyday occurrences.  Fernandez also introduces some instances where calculus has totally unexpected applications to our lives – why our GPS system relies upon Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, and why we obtain electricity via alternating current rather than direct current.

  • Michael Strevens, “Tychomancy: Inferring Probability from Causal Structure” (Harvard UP, 2013)

    Michael Strevens, “Tychomancy: Inferring Probability from Causal Structure” (Harvard UP, 2013)

    15/04/2014 Duración: 01h00s

    When we’re faced with a choice between Door #1, Door #2, and Door #3, how do we infer correctly that there’s an equal chance of the prize being behind any of the doors? How is it that we are generally correct to choose the shorter of two checkout lines in the supermarket when we’re in a hurry? In his new book, Tychomancy: Inferring Probability from Causal Structure (Harvard University Press, 2013), Michael Strevens – professor of philosophy at New York University, argues that we are all equipped with a reliable, probable innate, and not fully conscious skill at probabilistic reasoning—a “physical intuition” that enables us to infer physical probabilities from perceived symmetries. This skill is found in six-month-old infants watching as red and white balls are removed in different proportions from an urn. But it also underlies important advances in the sciences, such as James Clerk Maxwell’s reasoning when he hit upon the correct distribution of velocities of a

  • Tim Chartier, “Math Bytes: Google Bombs, Chocolate-Covered Pi, and Other Cool Bits in Computing” (Princeton UP, 2014)

    Tim Chartier, “Math Bytes: Google Bombs, Chocolate-Covered Pi, and Other Cool Bits in Computing” (Princeton UP, 2014)

    08/04/2014 Duración: 01h12min

    [Re-posted with permission from Wild About Math] My favorite kind of math challenges are those that children can understand and professional mathematicians can’t solve easily (or at all.) Math Bytes: Google Bombs, Chocolate-Covered Pi, and Other Cool Bits in Computing (Princeton University Press, 2014) is a brand new book from Princeton University Press that has a great collection of fun problems that kids (middle school and above) and their parents can work on together. Author Tim Chartier does a fantastic job of weaving some wonderful stories into his sharing of a number of challenges that are either original or new spins on old problems. And, many (all?) of the puzzles in the book are classroom tested. Tim is a mathematician and a professional mime. He’s got a neat relationship with the Mathematical Association of America, and with the Museum of Mathematics in New York City. He’s got a DVD course coming out, and a second book. Tim is quite the math celebrity and a really great guy. I thin

  • Chuck Adler, “Wizards, Aliens, and Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction” (Princeton UP, 2014)

    Chuck Adler, “Wizards, Aliens, and Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction” (Princeton UP, 2014)

    14/02/2014 Duración: 01h34min

    [Re-posted with permission from Wild About Math] I’ve admitted before that Physics and I have never gotten along. But, science fiction is something I enjoy. So, when Princeton University Press sent me a copy of Physics Professor Chuck Adler‘s new book Wizards, Aliens, and Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction (Princeton University Press, 2014), I was intrigued enough that I wanted to interview the author. This interview rambled, but in a good way. Chuck is a great guest, he’s passionate about physics and math as well as fantasy and science fiction. We flowed through a number of subjects and had a grand time.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Eli Maor and Eugen Jost, “Beautiful Geometry” (Princeton UP, 2014)

    Eli Maor and Eugen Jost, “Beautiful Geometry” (Princeton UP, 2014)

    11/02/2014 Duración: 50min

    Beautiful Geometry (Princeton UP, 2014), by the mathematician prof. Eli Maor and the noted artist Eugen Jost.  It’s a fascinating collaboration which helps to bridge the gap deplored by C. P. Snow in his classic The Two Cultures.  If you’re a lover of geometry, you’ll find some of your favorites depicted here – as well as a number of theorems that will undoubtedly be new to many readers (including the interviewer).  Each result is accompanied by an original work of art by Eugen Jost.  It’s fascinating not only to read about some of the more piquant results in a field (geometry) that is more than 2,500 years old, but just as delightful to see how these results inspire the creativity of an artist.  If you come for the geometry, you’ll certainly stay for the artwork – and if your interest is in art, you’ll be intrigued by how a presumably dry subject such as geometrical theorems can give birth to works of exquisite beauty.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit meg

  • Edward Frenkel, “Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality” (Basic Books, 2013)

    Edward Frenkel, “Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality” (Basic Books, 2013)

    08/11/2013 Duración: 56min

    The book discussed in this interview is Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality Basic Books, 2013) by Edward Frenkel of the University of California at Berkeley.It’s a toss-up which is more interesting – the description of Frenkel’s life or his description of his interest in – and love for – mathematics and physics. Before he was twenty years old, Frenkel had written a paper that a visiting Swedish physicist thought so intriguing that he smuggled it out of Russia.That paper started Frenkel on a career which resulted in his collaborating with some of the world’s foremost mathematicians and physicists – and to his writing Love and Math. It’s a fascinating read.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Colm Mulcahy, “Mathematical Card Magic: Fifty-Two New Effects” (A K Peters, 2013)

    Colm Mulcahy, “Mathematical Card Magic: Fifty-Two New Effects” (A K Peters, 2013)

    26/09/2013 Duración: 01h15min

    [Re-posted with permission from Wild About Math] I had the pleasure of interviewing mathematician and mathematical card magic innovator Colm Mulcahy. Dr. Mulcahy just published a book, Mathematical Card Magic: Fifty-Two New Effects (A K Peters, 2013) We spent a delightful hour discussing his book, his love of math and magic, and the inspiration behind writing the book. Plus, Dr. Mulcahy shares a few challenges listeners might enjoy chewing on, sprinkled throughout the interview. And, we discuss Martin Gardner, who Colm Mulcahy knew for the last decade of his life and met with several times. You may also enjoy Shecky’s text interview with Colm Mulcahy at Math Tango.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Brian Clegg, “Dice World: Science and Life in a Random Universe” (Icon Books, 2013)

    Brian Clegg, “Dice World: Science and Life in a Random Universe” (Icon Books, 2013)

    04/06/2013 Duración: 52min

    The book discussed in this interview is Dice World: Science and Life in a Random Universe (Icon Books, 2013), by Brian Clegg, an acclaimed British writer of books on science for the general public. Brian has a knack for taking concepts that seem abstruse and explaining them in ways that those who lack a technical background can readily understand. This talent is on display inDice World, where he takes the reader on an intriguing trip through the world of probability and statistics, and shows how these disciplines are essential to our understanding of how the Universe came into existence, how it functions, and how it will evolve. Brian Clegg can be contacted at brian@brianclegg.net.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Leonard Wapner, “Unexpected Expectations: The Curiosities of a Mathematical Crystal Ball” (A.K. Peters, 2012)

    Leonard Wapner, “Unexpected Expectations: The Curiosities of a Mathematical Crystal Ball” (A.K. Peters, 2012)

    06/05/2013 Duración: 56min

    Today I talked to Leonard Wapner about his new book Unexpected Expectations: The Curiosities of a Mathematical Crystal Ball (A.K. Peters, 2012).  Prof. Wapner’s previous book, The Pea and the Sun, was an in-depth investigation of the Banach-Tarski Theorem, one of the most counterintuitive results in mathematics.  Expectation is an extension of the idea of average value, and is a basic tool of probability theory that underlies both the gaming and insurance industries.  Unexpected Expectations is a fascinating look at some of the counterintuitive aspects of this apparently simple concept.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Lance Fortnow, “The Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible” (Princeton UP, 2013))

    Lance Fortnow, “The Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible” (Princeton UP, 2013))

    02/04/2013 Duración: 53min

    Today we’ll be discussing Lance Fortnow‘s bookThe Golden Ticket:P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible (Princeton University Press, 2013).The book focuses on the challenges associated with solving problems requiring significant computation, such as “What is the largest group of Facebook users, all of whom know each other?”If it is shown that all computational problems can be solved relatively easily (this is known as showing that P=NP), then such problems as finding a cure for cancer and other diseases would be much more easily solved. Listen in and find out how.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez, “Math on Trial” (Basic Books, 2013)

    Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez, “Math on Trial” (Basic Books, 2013)

    13/03/2013 Duración: 59min

    You may well have seen “Numb3rs,” a TV show in which mathematicians help solve crimes. It’s fiction. But, as Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez show in their eye-opening new book Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Court Room (Basic Books, 2013) math does play a role in criminal prosecution. Alas, it’s often bad math and, as such, often leads to bad outcomes: people get off who shouldn’t and others get convicted who shouldn’t. Schneps and Colmez show how math has been misused in ten interesting (and disturbing) cases. In some instances the errors are trivial; in others rather complex. But they all add up (excuse the pun) to injustice. Listen in and find out how and why.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Catherine Jami, “The Emperor’s New Mathematics: Western Learning and Imperial Authority During the Kangxi Reign (1662-1722)” (Oxford UP, 2012)

    Catherine Jami, “The Emperor’s New Mathematics: Western Learning and Imperial Authority During the Kangxi Reign (1662-1722)” (Oxford UP, 2012)

    19/10/2012 Duración: 01h09min

    Challenging conventional modes of understanding China and the circulation of knowledge within the history of science, Catherine Jami‘s new book looks closely at the imperial science of the reign of the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1662-1722). It focuses on the history of mathematics in this context, but situates the story of mathematics and Kangxi within a larger framework that extends from the late Ming through the years after Kangxi’s reign, and treating much more than mathematics in the course of the analysis. The Emperor’s New Mathematics: Western Learning and Imperial Authority During the Kangxi Reign (1662-1722) (Oxford University Press, 2012) takes us from the beginning of Western learning in China in the late Ming dynasty through the commissioning by Kangxi of a massive compendium that was the largest mathematical work ever printed in imperial China. Along the way, Jami’s work surveys the changing pedagogy of imperial mathematics in late imperial China, the crucial role that materialit

  • Roger Hart, “The Chinese Roots of Linear Algebra” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2011)

    Roger Hart, “The Chinese Roots of Linear Algebra” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2011)

    27/07/2012 Duración: 01h07min

    Roger Hart‘s The Chinese Roots of Linear Algebra (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011) is the first book-length study of linear algebra in imperial China, and is based on an astounding combination of erudition and expertise in both Chinese history and the practice and history of linear algebra. Alternating among an interdisciplinary array of materials and ideas that range from the Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Arts to modern matrix theory, Hart argues for the importance of visualization to the solution of linear algebra problems in China in the years before Leibniz. In the course of a detailed and exhaustive account of fangcheng practice, Hart explores issues of primary importance to the history of science broadly writ, including the relationship and distinction between popular and elite knowledge, the challenges of inferring and extracting historical practices from the textual record, and the challenges of translating scientific terminology across the languages and cultures of the past and present

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