December, 2017

Ask Uncle Colin: How can I be neater?

Dear Uncle Colin, I keep being told my work needs to be tidier, but I’m not really sure how to go about that. Do you have any suggestions? – My Exercises Skew Scruffy Hello, MESS, and thanks for your message. I totally feel your pain. In honesty, this is like

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Glittering like a Christmas tree

“It is like a cave that seemed to be absolutely sparkling with jewels. Maths glittered like a Christmas tree at me.” – Amanda Spielman, at the Education Select Committee, October 30th 2017 What an image. What an image. Caves are dark, and cold, and slightly frightening, but buried deep within,

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Ask Uncle Colin: A Gambling Fallacy

Dear Uncle Colin, Does the Law Of Large Numbers contradict the fact that the Gambler's Fallacy is a fallacy? – Got A Monkey Backing Liverpool In November's Games Hi, GAMBLING, and thanks for your message! The short answer is: no. I imagine you want a bit more detail than that,

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In Praise of… LaTeX

The summer of 2003 was a glorious one in Fife: blazing sunshine, warm-but-not-too-warm, a lovely fresh breeze blowing in off of the North Sea. At least, I’m told it was glorious. I was stuck in room 226, preparing two versions of my PhD thesis as my supervisor had decided a

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Ask Uncle Colin: A peculiar triangle

Dear Uncle Colin, I have a triangle. All I know is that its angles, $\alpha$, $\beta$ and $\gamma$, satisfy $\cos(\alpha)=\frac{1}{4}$ and $\gamma = 30º$ – and I have to find $\tan(\beta)$. Help! – Can't Obviously See It, Need Explanation Hi, COSINE, and thanks for your message! This is one that

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Wrong, But Useful: Episode 51, featuring @suedepom

Sue de Pomerai joins Colin and Dave for this month’s episode of Wrong, But Useful. We discuss: Her work for FMSP and MEI and, previously as a teacher Sue’s alter ego, Ada Lovelace, and getting more young women into maths Colin writes books: he mentions Cracking Mathematics and some good

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The Sneakiest Integral I’ve Ever Done

Once upon a time1, @dragon_dodo asked me to help with: $\int_{- \piby 2}^{\piby 2} \frac{1}{2007^x+1} \frac{\sin^{2008}(x)}{\sin^{2008}(x)+\cos^{2008}(x)} \dx$. Heaven – or the other place – only knows where she got that thing from. Where do you even begin? My usual approach when I don't know where to start is to start

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Ask Uncle Colin: Expected goals

Dear Uncle Colin, What on earth is “expected goals” and why is it supposed to be useful? – Just Enjoy Football FFS Hello, JEFF, and thanks for your message! The first part of your question is simple, although with some subtleties. What does ‘expected goals’ mean? ‘Expected goals’ is a

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An unexpected connection

You want to know one of my favourite things about maths? It's the connections. Connections between things that don't, on the face of it, seem remotely connected. One just cropped up, and made me grin from ear to ear, so I thought I'd share it with you. The Parker Square

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