Author: Colin

Sorting a list on the fly

I was writing a sort of revision sheet the other day, and I'd written the questions in a sensible order, but wanted to shuffle them randomly so that students wouldn't know what's coming next. This is not the kind of thing Microsoft Word was built for. I decided to start

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Billy Beane: Lives of the Mathematical Ninja

Unusually for a Mathematical Ninja, Billy Beane isn't a mathematician. Nor is he dead. He's a baseball manager. Now, I don't know one end of a baseball stick from another, so this will be strewn with errors: one thing I do know, thought, is that if I was a baseball

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The Mathematical Pirate’s guide to the Chain Rule

"Yarr!" said the Mathematical Pirate, chopping his way through the piles of papers strewn around the classroom. The student looked unimpressed. "How do you differentiate $y = \sec^2(3x)$?" she asked. The Mathematical Ninja would have discerned that she'd just read the question without trying to solve it, but the Mathematical

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Is mathematics discovered or invented?

This is one of my least-favourite questions about maths. It's a question on the level of "Is Mo Farah the world's greatest athlete ever?" - to some people, the answer is clearly yes, and to others, just as clearly no (Bubka? Beamon? Lewis? Gebrselassie1 ?) and there's no real way

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Wrong, But Useful: Episode 6

The end of August is upon us... is it really Episode 6 already? Apparently so. This month, @reflectivemaths (Dave Gale) and I talk about... My talk in Edinburgh and the Maths Inspiration people Abuse of pie charts: East Lancs and the TES have things mixed up, and graphs you don't

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Why I Can See My Car works

A few weeks ago, the Mathematical Ninja revealed that he integrated trigonometric functions using a cheap mnemonic. As reader Joshua Zucker pointed out, this was most unlike the Mathematical Ninja. Had he been kidnapped? Surely not; no Ninja would ever be taken alive. Had the Mathematical Pirate infiltrated? Had someone

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The Baffling Case of the Boscombe Boffin

"Graffiti?" said Gale. "We don't do mindless vandalism." "It's not mindless vandalism," I said, "it looks like it's been pretty carefully thought out." I brought the picture up on screen. Someone had covered a suspiciously blackboard-like wall in an awful lot of maths. "Bournemouth? That's your neck of the woods.

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When BIDMAS goes bad

A reader asks: "When you're working out an expression, why do you sometimes divide after you multiply, when the BIDMAS rules say D comes before M?" This is exactly the reason I don't like BIDMAS - because it suggests something that simply isn't true (that division is before multiplication and

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When BIDMAS goes bad

A reader asks: "When you're working out an expression, why do you sometimes divide after you multiply, when the BIDMAS rules say D comes before M?" This is exactly the reason I don't like BIDMAS - because it suggests something that simply isn't true (that division is before multiplication and

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Gerolamo Cardano: Lives of the Mathematical Ninja

It's been a while since I did a Ninja Lives post - let me put that right! Gerolamo Cardano is just what the MacTutor archives call him: in France, he's Jerome Cardan; if you ask a Latinist, he's Hieronymus Cardanus. Some people call him Geronimo, which is a pretty awesome

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Where do you teach?

I teach in my home in Abbotsbury Road, Weymouth.

It's a 15-minute walk from Weymouth station, and it's on bus routes 3, 8 and X53. On-road parking is available nearby.

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