## Weekly Picks

July 20, 2011 § 1 Comment

Welcome to this weeks edition of our weekly picks!

Let’s start with some must-reads:

- James Colliander informs us about the newly established Fields Medal Symposium,
- If you weren’t convinced before Peter Cameron explains very effectively why the impact factors should be ignored (but why this will not happen),
- If you ever do any coding you will be well-advised to listen to Good Math, Bad Math,
- Tanya Khovanova explains why it is so difficult for female mathematicians to get along with the spouses of male colleagues.

One reason we love blogs is because it is an excellent way to tell others about misconceptions you discovered. It this spirit Numbers Rule Your World explains why Groupon doesn’t have to fear copycats but instead too many dealseekers, and Peter Cameron takes another go on explaining that there are basically two kinds of statisticians, and that you should take care of which kind the result is that you want to use.

Speaking of misconceptions, there were several posts about the difficulties with teaching math last week: David M. Bressoud writes why lectures are not a good tool for teaching, which was picked up and extended by Learning and Teaching Math. That the way math is taught is sometimes far from ideal was also expressed by entertaining but also saddening comparisons by reflectivemathsteacher Dave Gale and several people on twitter (as a sidenote, here’s a cool example on how to visualize a conversation on twitter in a nonlinear way), and exzuberant joins the choir, with a slight twist. If you are wondering how we can do better, maybe Conrad Wolfram in this interview you can see on Wild About Math! has some ideas for you. Also dy/dan (and commenters) muse about how to make stereotypical problems more appealing, while digitizor has found one nice example how this can be done (via la covacha mathemática). Here’s even more from emergent math. Also, do we really need all these days commemorating constants?

But there were also more cheerful posts about beautiful mathematics: Xamuel.com writes about the elegant old proof of the infinitude of primes and how fast one can get to unknown territory from there, Concrete Nonsense remembers the application of Cantor’s diagonal argument to prove the existence of undecidable problems in computer science, Mathlog tells us about the article “the unplanned impact of mathematics” (translation), Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist explains integral transforms, and Gyre&Gimble explains why diagrams might be the more natural way to talk about finite fields.

One focus of our interest is how blogging can help math (and the people learning and practicing it), see Peter’s post on how we should improve our homepages. But if you have a long series of posts on the same subject, then maybe the tutorial of neverendingbooks on how to turn wordpress posts into an epublishing is for you (BTW, you might have wondered what happened to his posts on the Bourbaki code). One step further is FlowingData, with publishing his book Visualize This (congrats!). And for the more interactive parts of research one could maybe experiment with the tools of google+? To name just a few, Machine Learning, etc already found a lot of ML people there, math mama writes was skeptical but then also joined, and so has 0xDE.

This is getting rather long, but here are some more finds:

- Nice math puzzles: A variation of a classic on Cut the knot, even more classics via Mr Honner, and something for sleepless nights from Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks.
- Xi’an reviews a statistics book for students with little mathematical background (in short: I don’t think he liked it very much). You can read it also here, with a response of one of the authors.
- Gödel’s lost letter and P=NP muses if computer scientists should put more focus on writing versions for laymen of their new results, taking the example from other sciences, and how this would even be possible.
- Broken airplane has some reading tips for the holidays.
- Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science found a graph that is just ugly, and Observational Epidemiology has another misleading example.
- Some visual finds: E. Kowalski visited the Giessen Mathematicum, matthen tries to grasp how big a million really is, and Mathematics and Multimedia uses paper-folding to find square roots.

Phew! And this was of course by far not even close to all that was going on last week. These are just our picks, feel free to find your own on mathblogging.org, and, as always:

Enjoy!

Thank you for including my blog.