It has been a while since I posted a TED talk. There haven’t been many good ones in recent years. I enjoyed the one below (though I think he could have made clear that men respond the same way as women after asking the “What do you do?” question!). Further Reading The paper on the Honeycomb Conjecture by Thomas Hales starts off with a very good introduction before getting down to the higher level mathematics. Pappus of Alexandria Freeform Honeycomb Structures Not directly related but is an interesting paper from a conference I was at last...

## 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 inappropriate. It seems clear that there is plenty of scope for the application of statistical techniques to the processes of meeting and weeding. First up is a great video from the ever-so-slightly geeky Amy Webb, who used mathematics to calculate the odds of finding a mate in Philadelphia. After producing a figure of 35 suitable men satisfying her criteria in a city of 1.5 million people she realized that she would have to turn to maths for help. There’s even a book, Data, a Love Story. Over on Wired, Chris McKinlay’s attempts to hack OKCupid’s online dating service is profiled. The article left me in two minds. Is this is great use of mathematics or is it just a bit creepy? Seemingly, the approach worked for him and no one is reported injured, so perhaps I shouldn’t judge. As a bonus, Wired also produced a handy infographic slideshow describing tips for improving online dating profiles. Top tips: Avoid Karaoke, get into surfing. My favourite though is that it is more attractive to mention “cats” than “my cats”. If everything goes well with the dating, then how do you arrange the wedding? “With maths” is not the standard answer. The Guardian reports on a statistically modelled wedding. This solves the centuries old problem of how to write the guest list. After all, you don’t want too few guests or too many accepting. Next post: Calculating the likelihood of...

## 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 of having it appear in his most famous picture?) Anyhow: You can find out more at the TED Education page for the video. Oh, and this week is the last chance to win a signed copy of Simon Singh’s book on The Simpsons! See...

## Maths Jam plug and Zeno’s Paradox (not together!)...

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! Here’s a link to a rather good Ted Ed video on Zeno’s paradoxes. I wish I had seen this before I gave my History of Maths course this year, it would have been quite useful despite its simple nature. There is a page for further information on the this...

## The number of spots in a deck is 365?...

posted by Kevin Houston

Today’s TED video is an augmented reality card trick by Marco Tempest. Now, I’m a fan of card tricks but this was a bit too cutesy for me. However, I draw your attention to his computer’s claim (at 3:20) that if you add up all the spots on the cards in a deck then you get 365 which is the number of days in a year. I make the same claim in one of my school talks but I follow it by pointing out that obviously it can’t be right. (Obvious in the sense that you don’t need to get a deck and count but just use some simple maths.) Usually at least one of the pupils gets it. Anyhow, here’s the...