Mathematical Instruments: Alexander Bogomolny

February 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

This post is part of the series Mathematical Instruments in which we introduce you to some of the math bloggers listed on our site. Today:

Mathematical Instruments

via Wikimedia Commons

Alexander Bogomolny — CTK Insights

Apart from CTK Insights, any places like other blogs, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc. we can find you on?

My main and oldest site is Interactive Mathematics Miscellany and Puzzles. I can be found on facebook, twitter, and under my own name – Alexander Bogomolny – on Google+.

Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?  E.g., Where are you coming from (both geographically and philosophically)? What is your (scientific) background?

I was born in Moscow, USSR; graduated from the Moscow State University with M.S. in Mathematics. My Math Ph.D. is from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I taught college math for many years, been tenured at the University of Iowa, but eventually decided to move into consulting.

When and how did you first discover mathematical blogs?

The CTK Insights is in fact an after-thought. I started my web site in 1996, wrote my first JavaScript game in 1997, but then switched to Java. Blogs appeared much later. Blogs have an added facility that allows visitors to leave comments. I began blogging probably 3 years ago. However, the blog could not substitute for a 3000 page web site; I had to maintain both. Past year I have discovered software from which to all intents and purposes converts a web site to a blog. Since then I am hard pressed to split the material between the site and the blog.

What is the story behind the name of your blog?

At the time I started the web site I lived at 1 Alexander Road. Being an Alexander, the association was always on my mind. I started the site with the idea of collecting interesting and beautiful mathematics – something that children do not necessarily see within our educational system.
I am very little – if at all – concerned with the quality of the educational system as it is now and as it has been as long as we care to remember. I do not believe that all children should receive more or less same education, or that algebra or geometry should be a prerequisite for graduation. As a matter of fact, I do not believe that forced studying of mathematics does any good to students’ mind. (There is a myth that math improves student’s logical abilities – it may be in some, it is a drag on many others.) I believe that the system needs a radical change. The kind of change that may be needed can be illustrated by the legend of Alexander the Great who, when offered to untie the Gordian knot, produced a sword and cut the knot into two. Cut-the-knot is a shadow of those musings.

What do you write about?

Math, math problems, math books, math education.

What wouldn’t have happened to you without the internet?

In the aftermath of the hurricane Sandy, we lived 13 days without power, i.e., no light, no TV, no internet, no mail, no news, etc. We cuddled more than usual and spent more time together as a family, but dearly felt the missing links to the outside world. Internet became part of our life pattern, and – for me – a regular workplace. Without the internet I would probably stay a math professor.

What does the internet need more of?

I never stopped to consider this question. I see how briskly entrepreneurship thrives on, and for, the internet and web, and feel that it is best to let it evolve on its own.

Mathematicians on the web have…

an extra (and a multifaceted at that) channel of communication. It’s a rich way to share knowledge and reach new audiences.

Your daily web reading (mathematical or otherwise):

Jerusalem Post, Fox News, whatever news are gathered for me on my tablet by (io9, Huffington Post, CNN, MathOverflow, many more), then also facebook, twitter, Google+.

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