The last post was a monster post. This one is a bit shorter as it exam time at my university so I’m a bit busy. Students these days have it easy with regards to exams. They are given far too much information about how to get good marks. When I was a lad we had to guess what an examiner...

## The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Chord

posted by Kevin Houston

On the 16th April 1964 the Beatles, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Ringo Starr, were on the cusp between stardom and mega-stardom. Groundbreaking albums, hit films, cartoons, royal honours, Sgt. Pepper, Indian mysticism, and an acrimonious break up all lay in their future as did the murder of Lennon and attempted murder of Harrison by separate mentally disturbed fans. That was all to come. Their task that night was to record an impressive opening track for their forthcoming debut film and the album to accompany it. Their producer, George Martin, wanted something spectacular: ‘We were looking for something big to open...

## How to get a good de...

posted by Kevin Houston

Usually I am against books offering general study advice, I favour those that focus on a particular subject. (Which is why I wrote How to Think Like a Mathematician. Mathematics students may also be interested in Lara Alcock’s How to Study for a Mathematics Degree.) I’ll make an...

## Summer Hiatus…

posted by Kevin Houston

My unscheduled summer hiatus from blogging arose from a family emergency that meant I was in stuck in Brazil for about 5 weeks. Not a bad place to be stuck but under the circumstances it was difficult to find time to finish my planned summer posts. For example, I had planned to post about the...

## LMS Popular Lectures

posted by Kevin Houston

The London Mathematical Society runs a regular Popular Lectures Series. These are mathematics lectures by (usually) research mathematicians. In recent years a pair of lecturers has performed in London and Birmingham. This year they will be given by Julia Gog and Kevin Buzzard. (The London...

## Another Hard DayR...

posted by Kevin Houston

I haven’t posted in a while for many reasons. One of which is that I’ve been trying to finish a textbook. My target date is July 31 to have the final draft finished. I’m not sure I’m going to make it… Anyhow, I noticed that the Beatles’ first film A Hard...

## Pixar mathematics

posted by Kevin Houston

One of my earliest interests in computing was animation (although at the time the tools were very crude). Here’s a video of Pixar animator Tony DeRose extolling to some young people the importance of mathematics in animation. The bit on the use of subdivision surfaces is particularly...

## Persi Diaconis Lectu...

posted by Kevin Houston

The name Martin Gardner is familiar to most mathematicians. He wrote numerous on mathematics from a culture and leisure viewpoint. (You can find his books on Amazon.) Next week Persi Diaconis will give a talk at the British Mathematical Colloquium (BMC) on the life and work of Martin Gardner....

## Mathematics of Love

posted by Kevin Houston

Today is St. Valentine’s Day, the day in much of Western culture arbitrarily designated to be the day for love. So let’s see what mathematics has to say on the subject. Finding a relationship with someone special is often about being introduced to people and sifting out the...

## Rafael Araujo –...

posted by Kevin Houston

One needs only look at some of Fomenko’s monstrosities to see that mathematics and art don’t always mix well. Exceptions are rare with Escher the benchmark for excellence. A recent Wired article on the Venezuelan artist, Rafael Araujo, describes how he produces his mathematically...

## Hilbert Hotel Video

posted by Kevin Houston

Belated Happy New Year! Here’s another of those short educational TED videos. This time on the Hilbert Hotel. (A cartoon Hilbert does seem to make an appearance but it is hard to tell as he isn’t wearing the hat. Do you think Hilbert wore that hat just once and had the misfortune...

## Maths and Magic on R...

posted by Kevin Houston

Should have posted this the other day: Last Friday Radio 4 transmitted a programme on maths and magic entitled, Maths and Magic! It features Jolyon Jenkins investigating the connection between the subjects in the title. You can hear it here for at least a few days. There are links on the web...

## Singh, Simpsons and ...

posted by Kevin Houston

This is a rather belated review of Simon Singh’s talk on The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets given for the Leeds Skeptics in the Pub in the Victoria Hotel pub. (There’s a chance to win the book, details below.) The Victoria is not a large pub so I did wonder where the...

## Interview with Richa...

posted by Kevin Houston

In this post I interview Richard Elwes, author of a number of maths books in recent years. He has kindly agreed to give away signed copies his two most recent, Mathematics in 100 Key Breakthroughs and Chaotic Fishponds and Mirror Universes. For a chance to win all you have to do is sign up...

## Simon Singh and the ...

posted by Kevin Houston

The week has been so busy that posting this has been delayed – I’ve been to London, Birmingham and Sheffield in the last three days. I did manage to install for a newsletter sign-up form for the blog. You can see it in the sidebar unless my hacks to the code have destroyed it for...

## How to Think Like a Mathematician

posted by Kevin Houston

It’s the blog’s birthday! It’s also the week before the start of the university year here and so it’s a good time to shamelessly advertise my best selling book. The success of How to Think Like a Mathematician has taken me by surprise. It has sold nearly 10,000 copies since it was published. Ok, I’m not going to rival JK Rowling but given that the statistic often quoted in the publishing world is that 95% of books sell less than 5000 copies, I am really happy that the book has found an audience and I get emails from all round the world saying how much they like the book. It has been translated into French,...

## Maths predicts – this time movie success

posted by Kevin Houston

In a previous post I talked about predictions using maths and Nates Silver‘s book on essentially that topic was one of my favourites books of last year. This next one is a bit of fun – predicting movie success. Film buffs will know William Goldman’s quote about making films “Nobody knows anything” which is taken to mean that no one can predict how a film will do at the box office. However, researchers have some good news. Mestyán, Yasseri and Kertész have published Early Prediction of Movie Box Office Success Based on Wikipedia Activity Big Data. As you can tell from the title the key is to use online data and...

## Glassified – R...

posted by Kevin Houston

The ruler has remained unchanged for thousands of years. Now it has been updated! You can read more (but not much) at Anirudh Sharma’s website, Creative Applications, Gizmag, and...

## Maths Jam plug and Z...

posted by Kevin Houston

First a plug for the next Maths Jam in Leeds: It will be on Tuesday 23rd at 7pm in the White Swan (it’s pretty much next to the City Varieties). I’ll be there (I know that if don’t publicly commit to it, then I’ll miss it) so maybe I’ll see you there!...

## Sconic sections

posted by Kevin Houston

This is a strange one: How to make edible conic sections! You can find the details at Evil Mad Scientist. If you enjoy maths-related cooking, then see my post on Tau-nados. Does anyone else have any other...

## Wolfram on Leibniz

posted by Kevin Houston

The usual busyness at the end of the teaching term and a holiday last week have meant that I’ve not been posting for a while. Today’s post is a short one from me directing you to a fairly long post by Stephen Wolfram on his recent visit to the Leibniz archive in Hannover. Read it...

## Lagrange book sale

posted by Kevin Houston

I never miss a chance to rummage around in second-hand book shops. In the past bargains were easy to come by but now the internet has killed that off. Now all books are priced pretty much the same and I no longer have the experience of approaching the counter carrying a much-underpriced book...

## Colin Wright and the...

posted by Kevin Houston

Recently, an acquaintance from my days as a researcher at Liverpool University alerted me to the existence of the Museum of Mathematics in New York. My acquaintance, Janet West, was a PhD student when I was at Liverpool and is now involved in the museum. There’s plenty of stuff online...

## What is the Best Proof of Cauchy’s Integral ...

posted by Kevin Houston

Today’s post may look as though I’m going all Terry Tao on you with a long post with lots of mathematical symbols. It’s really about the learning and teaching of Cauchy’s integral theorem from undergraduate complex analysis, so isn’t for everyone. If it’s not your cup of tea/coffee, then pop over here for some entertainment. Cauchy’s Integral Theorem Cauchy’s Integral Theorem is one of the greatest theorems in mathematics. There are many ways of stating it. Here’s just one: Cauchy’s Integral Theorem: Let be a domain, and be a differentiable complex function. Let be a closed contour...

## Mary Cartwright arti...

posted by Kevin Houston

Mary Cartwright is fairly well-known amongst mathematicians in the UK but less widely known amongst the general public. A recent BBC online article about her and her work may be the beginning of a change in this situation. There is even a Radio 4...

## Estimating large num...

posted by Kevin Houston

Here’s a really good introduction to estimating numbers and includes Enrico Fermi‘s famous “How many piano tuners are there in Chicago?” You can see more like this at...

## Matt Parker Number N...

posted by Kevin Houston

This is mainly one for those local to Leeds (although see the bottom of the post). As part of the Leeds Festival of Science, Matt Parker will be giving a talk at the University. From the advertising: Direct from BBC Radio 4’s Infinite Monkey Cage with Brian Cox and Robin Ince, with research...

## Maths problems tweet...

posted by Kevin Houston

I’m not a big user of twitter as I prefer to read material that has more than 140 characters. Nonetheless, often something interesting appears. Dan Meyer set off an intriguing set of responses to his call for maths problems that can be posed within Twitter constraints. The results can...

## Mathematics of the m...

posted by Kevin Houston

Rock music fans are aware of the phenomenon of the mosh pit at concerts — a riotous area, usually close to the stage, where concert-goers, in lieu of learning complicated dance steps, slam violently into each other (and hence an alternative name for moshing is slam dancing). Until now...