Monthly Archives: March 2011

Algorithm used for world record pi calculations

The following algorithm is based on work of Ramanujan and has been used in several world-record calculations of pi. Initialize a0 = 6 – 4 √2 and y0 = √2 – 1. Then compute and The terms an form a

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A Ramanujan series for calculating pi

Ramanujan discovered the following remarkable formula for computing π: This is not the most efficient series for computing π. My next post will give a more efficient method, also based on work of Ramanujan. But the series above is interesting

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Digital workflow

William Turkel has a nice four-part series of blog posts entitled A Workflow for Digital Research Using Off-the-Shelf Tools. His four points are Start with a backup and versioning strategy. Make everything digital. Research 24/7 (using RSS feeds). Make local

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Engineers save millions of lives in Japan

From Dave Ewing via Roberto Montagna: The headline you won’t be reading: “Millions saved in Japan by good engineering and government building codes”. But it’s the truth. The loss of life in Japan is tragic, but it would have been

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Weekend miscellany

Science Dyson on heresy, climate change, and science What to demand from a scientific computing language Typography Ancient Christianity and punctuation Free math books Archimedes: The Sand Reckoner The Book of Proof Geometry of the Quintic Pauca sed matura.

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Marshall McLuhan reading technique

From Douglas Copeland’s book on Marshall McLuhan: Marshall … didn’t have the patience to work through a book that didn’t interest him from the start. He even developed a technique to suit his impatience: whenever he picked up a new

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Sonnet primes

The previous post showed how to list all limerick primes. This post shows how to list all sonnet primes. These are primes of the form ababcdcdefefgg, the rhyme scheme of an English (Shakespearean) sonnet, where the letters a through g

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Limerick primes

The other day, Futility Closet posted this observation: 10102323454577 is the smallest 14-digit prime number that follows the rhyme scheme of a Shakespearean sonnet (ababcdcdefefgg). I posted this on AlgebraFact and got a lot of responses. One was from Matt

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Not enchanted with "Enchantment"

I’ve read a fair number of business books, but I stopped reading them when they all started to sound alike. I have limited time for reading and so I want to read books that “blow my hair back” as Will

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A little math puzzle

Futility Closet posted the other day that log 237.5812087593 = 2.375812087593. Make a formal statement of the problem that 2.375812087593 solves and show that there’s exactly one other solution. Related posts: What does this code do? Tricky code Technology history

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Augustine, Leibowitz, and evolution

The following paragraph is from the science fiction novel A Canticle for Leibowitz: A fourth century bishop and philosopher. He [Saint Augustine] suggested that in the beginning God created all things in their germinal causes, including the physiology of man,

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Weekend miscellany

Humor How to be a hipster Charlie Sheen v Muammar Gaddafi Math Galton’s Bayesian machine from 1877 “Mnemonic” is a mnemonic (Poisson density) Fibonacci matrix identity The Optimization Edge (Using optimization to run a business) Python programming Python tricks from

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Thomas Jefferson and preparing for meetings

Here’s an interesting historical anecdote from Karl Fogel’s Producing Open Source Software on the value of preparing for meetings. In his multi-volume biography of Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson and His Time, Dumas Malone tells the story of how Jefferson handled the

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Psychological encapsulation

A piece of software is said to be encapsulated if someone can use it without knowing its inner workings. The software is a sort of black box. It has a well-defined interface to the outside world. “You give me input

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Singularity interview

Vincent Tan interviews me in the March 2011 issue of his online magazine Singularity. One of the topics we discuss is the difference between studying applied math and actually applying math.

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