Archives, Driving with Mathematicians

Driving with mathematicians

“How many gas stations do you think we’ll pass on the way home?” “You mean on the side of the road, or at exits?” “Whichever – places where we’d consider buying gas.” “I don’t know, six, eight…why?” “Well, if we pass the first 1/e gas stations and then stop at the first place that offers cheaper gas, then we’ll maximize the…

Continue Reading

Archives, Character Writ Large, Those Who Cant

Where textbooks come from

When I was a kid, my father told me about a strange phenomenon, which was later explained to him, that he’d observed while eating on airplanes. Back in the seventies and early eighties, Dad travelled a lot on business, and he noticed that the slices of hard-boiled eggs he received never included any ends. Each egg slice that made its…

Continue Reading

Archives, Meta Meta, This One Time At Mathcamp

Math class: now with more social justice (and less math)

The adage that addresses the issue of judging books by their covers counsels unambiguously against, but I’ve always rejected it on the grounds that it assumes, generally incorrectly, that authors have no editorial control over the presentation of their work. I unabashedly judge books by their covers in the figurative sense; but at the moment I’m being quite literal. Specifically, I…

Continue Reading