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A Levels

Mon, 20 Aug 2007 11:38:32 +0000

Last Thursday the A level results were announced and there were the usual recycled comments with some people attacking and others defending the system. There appears to be three main arguments used: A levels are getting easier; Teachers are getting better at preparing students for the exams; Students work very hard and so it is insulting […]

Diagonal Stripes in Group Table

Tue, 14 Aug 2007 15:42:58 +0000

One of my student’s attention was drawn to the fact, that in cyclic groups of order 4 and 5, it is possible to arrange the elements so that the transverse diagonals (that is those perpendicular to the leading diagonal) of the group (Cayley) table consist of equal elements. The groups in question were with multiplication […]

Mathematics Summer School in Sirince in Turkey

Sat, 04 Aug 2007 11:15:16 +0000

Those of us involved in mathematics education often whinge about current standards, the lack of enthusiasm in students etc so it is refreshing to read Alexander Borovik’s reports Gold Sand in a Stream and Photos from Mathematical Village about a mathematics summer school for undergraduate students in Sirince in Turkey. The summer school was run by Professor Ali Nesin, […]

Carnivals of Mathematics

Wed, 06 Jun 2007 17:26:03 +0000

The Carnival of Mathematics is a fortnightly look at mathematical blogs. As I have commented before the growth in such blogs has been phenomenal recently which is very welcome. The carnivals are thus a gateway to the treasures that are out there, so I think it worth listing the carnivals so far (all numbers are […]

Mathematics Comedy Videos

Sun, 03 Jun 2007 11:21:00 +0000

Mathematical humour is quite difficult to do. I have previously blogged about the book Comic Sections and there are other books like Carl Linderholm’s Mathematics made difficult and Ian Stewart‘s books which contain much humour; a cartoon series Ian drew is the inspiration for this Mathematical humorous videos are even rarer. Here are a couple. The first is very well-known […]

Dr Who’s Happy Primes

Sat, 19 May 2007 20:34:28 +0000

It’s so nice to see mathematics playing an important part in popular television. In tonight’s Dr Who the spaceship crew had to find the next number in the sequence 313, 331, 367, …. Dr Who recognises this as a sequence of happy primes with the next one being 379. It’s all explained at that Wikipedia article and […]

Eigenvalues without determinants

Fri, 18 May 2007 15:14:22 +0000

Most (all?) undergraduate courses use determinants to introduce eigenvalues and eigenvectors. So the eigenvalues of a matrix (or linear transformation ) are the solutions of . However, Sheldon Axler published a paper in 1994 called Down with Determinants! where he maintains that determinants should not be used so early in linear algebra courses. He gives […]

Problems, Problems

Sat, 05 May 2007 14:22:43 +0000

The Art of Problem Solving (AopS) site encourages, teaches and promotes mathematics competitions from small local ones right up to the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). As it says on its front page: Is math class too easy for you? Looking for a greater challenge? You’ve come to the right place. It has an excellent introduction […]

Equation Wizard

Sun, 29 Apr 2007 17:43:37 +0000

I have an ambivalent attitude to mathematical software. On the one hand, an enthusiastic user of LaTeX both here and in documents and presentations, but, on the other hand, wary of too much reliance on calculators and computers. One superb maths teacher I know was criticised for not using a computer in his A level class. A […]

Mathematics in the News

Tue, 24 Apr 2007 19:11:21 +0000

Today the BBC reports two stories about mathematics Chancellor reveals maths weakness. Gordon Brown, almost certain to be the next Prime Minister, said he wasn’t very good at maths. But he also added “I did maths at school and for one year at university but I don’t think I was ever very good at it […]