Posted in ninja maths, statistics

In working out a recent blog post, I had cause to find the probability, in a standard normal distribution, of $z < -23$. Beyond "that's a REALLY SMALL NUMBER"1, I was stumped. Could I get anywhere close mentally? A good question. Starting from the definition of the normal distribution, $p(z)

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Posted in ask uncle colin

Dear Uncle Colin, Is there a reason you don’t use "Dr" in your author name? - Presumably Has Doctorate Hi, PHD! Thanks for your question. Yes, there are several reasons. The one I usually give is that my bank calls me Dr Beveridge and it makes me uneasy. It's also

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Posted in number theory

Pick a number, any number1 Let's say 24,876,028, one of my favourites in the 20-millions. I can tell by looking at it that it's one more than a multiple of 9. It's not that clever a trick: I just added up the digits (getting 37), and repeated the trick with

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Posted in ask uncle colin, mechanics 1

Dear Uncle Colin, I'm struggling to make sense of questions about moments in M1. Can you help? -- Failing Equilibrium-Related Moments... All Torque! Hi, FERMAT! That's a bit more general than the kind of question I usually answer, but no matter! Here’s the briefest theory of equilibrium I can come

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Posted in cav being wrong, graphs, nme

* Edited 2016-10-24 to add categories, just for Cav.

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Posted in ask uncle colin

Dear Uncle Colin, I work in a call centre, which is run by the numbers. Every employee has to stay above a certain conversion rate, calculated as the number of successful deals resulting from their calls, divided by the number of times they have a call that doesn't go to

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Posted in ninja maths

The Mathematical Ninja glanced at the Rubik Cube and paused. "And $45^3$ is..." A reach for the calculator. A flurry of colour. "Ow!" "91,125," said the Mathematical Ninja, catching the cube on the rebound and swizzling it solved. "Only needed 12 that time." The student sighed. "Go on, then. I

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Posted in ask uncle colin, logarithms, powers

Dear Uncle Colin, I've been asked to find $2^{64}$ without a calculator, to four significant figures. How would you go about this? -- Large Exponent, Horrific Multiplication, Extremely Repetitive Hi, LEHMER! To get a rough answer, I'd usually start with the rule of thumb that $2^{10} \approx 10^3$. I'd conclude

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Posted in podcasts

In the October episode of Wrong, But Useful, @icecolbeveridge and @reflectivemaths have their habitual chat. Dave insults mechanics, then gets stroppy about Colin insulting stats The number of the podcast is 16, 40 and 64, because one number isn't enough for Dave Dave visits a fete and gets ripped off

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Posted in ask uncle colin, matrices

Dear Uncle Colin, I've got a matrix, and I'm not afraid to use it. It's $\begin{pmatrix} 3 & -5 \\ -4 & 2\end{pmatrix}$ Apparently, it has invariant lines. Those, I'm afraid of. How do I find them? -- Terrors About Rank, Safely Knowing Inverses Hi, TARSKI! An invariant line of

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