Category Archives: mathematics and …

how our discipline relates to other things

Poe on algebraists

Michael Kinyon reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe’s comments on algebraists in his story “The Purloined Letter”. Here they are in full. “But is this really a poet?” I asked. “There are two brothers, I know; and both have attained … Continue reading

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Note on infinity

A common caricature of the view of the mediaeval scholastics is that they wondered whether the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin is infinite or not. In fact, this calumny was invented much later. … Continue reading

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Bayes again

It is always a pleasure to read David Colquhoun’s posts. The most recent explains a simple statistical point that still escapes many health adminisitrators (and others). He describes two tests for Alzheimer’s disease. The first (which I will discuss) is … Continue reading

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Donald Preece: obituary and bibliography

Rosemary has written a long obituary of Donald, far too long for a journal to consider, but worth having on record (I think).

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Augustinian mathematics

In the Quotes on this blog, I have the following from David Knowles, in The Evolution of Medieval Thought: Augustine took from the Neoplatonists that interest in number, which to the ordinary reader of his works seems an idiosyncrasy. … … Continue reading

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Estimation and accuracy

I am back in London, desperately trying to throw off a bad cold in time to start lecturing to 305 students on Monday morning. Various reading matter, chiefly Nature and Significance, provoked a few thoughts on the topic of estimation … Continue reading

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Will computers discover topology?

We have just had, as usual, a set of very fine lectures at the British Combinatorial Conference at Royal Holloway. I’ve said a bit about the lectures by Doron Zeilberger and Einar Steingrímsson. I can’t discuss them all, but I … Continue reading

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Some mathematical images

Some time ago, a friend gave me a book of poetry by the Iranian poet Sohrab Sepehri (1928–1980). The book consists of a long poem, The Traveler, and a collection of shorter poems entitled We Nothing But Look. The book … Continue reading

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An organ recital

Last week, the refurbished organ in the Great Hall of the People’s Palace at Queen Mary was officially inaugurated. Along with the Purcell, Bach, Handel, Wesley, Ketelby, Coates, and so on, was a piece by my colleague and co-author Donald … Continue reading

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Strange Attractors

Barry Mazur wrote a book Imagining numbers:(particularly the square root of minus fifteen), which was intended to convey to non-mathematicians that the act of imagination in mathematics is quite comparable to that in poetry. Specifically, he wants to explain how … Continue reading

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