Monday, December 17, 2012

MoMath - Museum of Mathematics Opening Day

I attended the Dec. 14 pre-opening and Dec. 15 opening day celebrations of America's one and only Museum of Mathematics in New York City. It was a great experience and a great museum. Glen Whitney, Director, and all his staff and contributors are to be congratulated on a job well done. The museum is located mid-block on 26th St. in Manhattan, between 5th and 6th Avenues.

Mathematics is THE ultimate language, but it needs work, and Mathematicians are working on it. From the youngest pre-School teacher to Alain Connes with his Non-Communicative Geometry project in France to The Langlands Program out of British Columbia and everyone in between, it is being worked.

Mathematics, taught VERY POORLY in America's Public Education school system, through no fault of the teachers themselves (they have the highest teacher drop-out rate) but rather the insane bureaucracy brought on by people in charge of Education who know NOTHING of Science, let alone Math (they are all political appointees), is THE deepest, THE widest, and THE tallest field of study.

It is a LANGUAGE, NOT a "Science." It transcends Science. It grew out of Logic. It is real, so real in fact, it would exist even if Reality itself never existed.

But forGET all the equations you ever learned by rote in a system maintained via TRADITION, of all the God-forsaken things, to make you HATE this MOST wonderful subject.

EXPERIENCE Mathematics, sans formulas, experience it hands on, interactively, at America's National Museum of Mathematics, in NYC. Bring the kids, including yourself, and be young again. A pleasant time is guaranteed for all.

Here are the names of the exhibits, not all but most of them, and prepare to THINK, not in a brain-stressing but rather in a fun and pleasant manner, THAT is what the museum is all about, and hopefully, each state and major city will repeat it's success, in time:

Light Grooves, Hyper Hyperboloid, Pattern Mesh, Structure Studio, Shapes of Space, Mathenaeum, Tracks of Galileo, Coaster Rollers, Twisted Thruway, String Product, Human Tree, Marble Multiplier, Math Square, Tessellation Station, 3D Doodle, Tile Factory, Sixth Sense, Monkey Around, Enigma Cafe, Rhythms of Life, Gallery of Innovation, Super Soma, Finding Fifteen, Feedback Fractals, Twist and Roll, and Marble Multiplier.

Several links before we show the tables.

The Official MoMath Website

The Official MoMath Facebook Page

Scientific American magazine's article re MoMath's Opening

Alan Boyle of Cosmic Log's ooriginal articl from a year ago descibing the museum to be
From the article:

Although the museum is designed to appeal to all ages, the team is paying special attention to how well the exhibits go over with students in the fourth through the eighth grade.

"That's our sweet spot, for a very simple reason," Whitney said. "If you look at the trajectory of students going through the curriculum, things seem more or less fine up to the fourth grade. That period from the fourth to the eight grade is where we see a decline in the engagement of the students. Why are we opening a math museum in the first place? It's because we see cultural issues in this country."

International studies have shown that 15-year-old students in the U.S. perform well below the global average when it comes to math — specifically, 25th place out of 34 countries in 2009, when the Program for International Student Assessment's most recent test was conducted. EducationSecretary Arne Duncan said the results were "an absolute wakeup call for America."

Whitney has been awake and aware of this problem for a long time. He believes the standard sequence of math classes is way too limiting, and fails to engage students as much as they could be engaged. "Mathematics is actually much broader and richer than the list of topics that one reaches through the normal curriculum," he said.

My own MoMath Facebook Photo Album which will be expanded in time.

My own Facebook page

Front entrance facing Madison Square Park, on 26th St. between 5th and 6th avenues. — at Museum of Mathematics.

Main entrance to the museum.
MoMath - Entrance view - pre-Opening night, Dec. 14, 2012

The top Floor is Floor 0 and the bottom Floor (Entrance) is Floor -1

Plaque of Founders

"Light Grooves", a holographic sculpture
The same sculpture, but from an angle 90 degrees different. See if you can notice the difference.

Mathematical pewter jewelry on sale in the Museum Shop.

More Mathematical jewelry

Structure Studio

Shapes of Space

The Mathenaeum kiosk and Tracks of Galileo

Ride the square wheeled tricycles at the Twisted Thruway

String Product shows multiplication in 3-D, as well as being the center of the helical stairs to the next floor.

Math Square is highly interactive and changes as you walk on it.

The nodes on this sculpture provide sound as you touch them. 

Tessellation Station

The Enigma Cafe has many Magic Puzzles at various tables to try out. 

Rhythm of Life

Gallery of Innovation

The Human Tree is a popular exhibit in which you move you arms in front of the camera, and the screen behind the camera projects your movements in fractal form.

The Human Tree screen

Twist and Roll challenges you to choose the right 3-D object and predict how it will roll.

Some items I purchased last evening at pre-Opening. All are affordable approximately $12 each. The colored Moire coasters are more beautiful than seen in this lighting. Euler's Identity is considered by Mathematicians to be the most beautiful "equation" or "formula" in Math. It is composed of 2 operators (+, =) and 5 constants (pi, e, -1, 0, and i) only and shows how they interrelate:

e raised to the i(pi) +1 = 0 


e^i(pi) + 1 = 0

MoMath Museum Store

MoMath Musuem Store

View from Madison Square Park across the street, after dusk. The museum store is on the left.

A sculpture in Madison Sq. Park of the temporary (Through Feb. 13, 2013) sculpture: BUCKYBALL. Looking east in this picture, MoMath is to the left, or north.

Looking North from the BUCKYBALL sculpture, MoMath is small and in the left center. Christmas Tree and the Empire State Building as well, which is 7 blocks north.

From the Park, MoMath is in the lower left.

With Glen Whitney, Director and Cindy Lawrence, Assistant Director, at MoMath pre-Opening night, Dec. 14, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

MoMATH: America's FIRST Math Museum Opens Tomorrow, and Today

An artits conception of how MoMath would look from last year. The reality is a bit different and we will show you tomorrow when we return. However the sense of space in accurate in this wonderful two two floor museum dedicated to Mathematics alone.

I am happy to report that MoMath looks great and as the only museum of it's kind in America, one dedicated only to Mathematics, that this important step in making the public appreciate both the beauty and wide scope of a subject often taught in a boring and bland manner, is off to a eye-catching and enjoyable start.

Tomorrow, from 10-5 will be the first day The Museum of Mathematics opens to the public. I attended a members-only pre-opening this afternoon and bought a few items in the well-stocked shop with a separate street entrance and took a quick tour. It looks great, very clean and very entertaining for adults and children of all ages. There were many mathematics teachers and professors enjoying the exhibits as well as many children. My camera was buggy and I couldn't take many photos but I have worked out the kinks and will have more tomorrow.

Previously, I wrote:

The world's first Mathematics Museum is slated to open in New York City in 2012. Thanks to Alan Boyle of Cosmic Log for turning us on to this.

I sure wish there were more.

That's not me lol

George Musser Jr. and me Nov. 28, 2012 at the New York Academy of Sciences , WTC7 NYC, panel discussion on Pride and Science: Where are all the Flying Cars? (A: they exist, you just better have a lot of money), more on this later as well as my participation in the NYC roundtable on Time the next week.
Photograph by Robert Ricci, copyright 2012

Click here to see Cosmic log's article on same.

Happy Holidays MATH PHYSICS Shopping!

Clifford Pickover has a followup to his excellent The Math Book, titled The Physics Book. Union College professor and laser cooling specialist Chad Orzel reviews it here and Pickover's own page describes it here.

Pickover's Math Book is one of five I strongly recommend for the budding genius in your family be they 8-80 or beyond:

These are IMO the five best introductory books to Mathematics that prove that the field IS ANYTHING BUT BORING, but is indeed a beautiful and exciting Field of Study.

State regulations in America's States, exceedingly boring in themselves, hamper our Teachers in making the students understand this VERY important subject. Math is overly tested here in the USA, and at too early an age, to the point of impressing our young and oh so important citizens that the subject seems positively evil, and useless.

"What is Math good for?" the childrens cry! This mantra is far too common. We. Must. Debunk.

Well, here are five books that will hopefully dispel that faulty thinking.

I list them from simplest to deepest, so this is the order in which I would recommend them to be read, with links to Amazon:

1) 50 Mathematical Ideas You Really Need To Know by Tony Crilly

Back on Feb. 8, 2010, I did a positive review of this book, outlining it even, twice, which you can call up by clicking here.

There are wonderful little timelines at the bottom of each of the 50 four-page chapters. I spent a considerable amount of time typing them in into a gross History of Mathematics at the very beginning of this year 2011, and you can call that up by clicking here.

This book is wonderfully cheap, and oddly, actually costs less at a local bookstore than at Amazon. I don't recommend this book for everyone. Only those aged eight to eighty. :-)

Mathematics starts here. This is your launching pad.

2) The MαTH βOOK: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematics by Clifford A. Pickover

Anyone who doesn't think that Math is beautiful, hasn't read this book. Heck, just skim through the pages. I would be surprised if you didn't buy it, just to own it. Beautiful pictures, suitable for framing. Beautiful prose.

3) Mathematics 1001: Absolutely Everything That Matters About Mathematics in 1001 Bite-Sized Explanations by Richard Elwes

You've seen 50 Mathematical ideas, then 250 milestones. Time to ratchet up the Knowledge Quotient. Try 1001. Currently my favorite read and my launching pad for ideas when I'm bored. And I hate being bored. I've got a fever, and the only prescription during those times is this book. Or more cowbell. Both'll work.

Dr. Elwes has a webpage for this book, including the very small amount of errata, which can be found here.

John Baez has a nice recent review of the book: here.

4) Euler's Gem: The Polyhedron Formula and the Birth of Topology by Dave Richeson

There's more to Topology than mathematicians being unable to distinguish a coffee cup from a donut, unlike policemen, who don't care; they enjoy both. This is the first of these books that have actual EQUATIONS in them, but don't freak out. They're straightforward, and Dave expositates beautifully.

It's all about Leonhard Euler in oh so many ways. I can't recommend this book strongly enough.

5) The Princeton Companion to Mathematics edited by Timothy Gowers, et. al.

And now it's time for Grad School. Not every Mathematician knows what their fellows are up to. It's been said by a famous Mathematician, that if they were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book, it would be the Princeton Companion. Read it and you'll see why. It is superb.

14 Math Holidays Every Math Major Should Know

Pi Day, e Day, Square Root Day, Odd Day (isn't that every day?), Powers of Ten Day, and 9 other Math Holidays. It's all here, baby!
DISCLAIMER: I did not write this but liked it enough to do my copy'n'paste thing (my specialty!) and put it on my weblog. Plus, I'm a sucker for lists! I got it from a random e-mail in my Inbox from one Jasmine Hall, here.
At first I thought it was spam and it may very well end up being so, and unless and/or until I explore Jasmine's website I wish to express that I am not endorsing this school nor am I saying you should not explore it. I assume my readership is intelligent to make up their own minds one way or another.

In any event, the mini-essay is good Marketing (another specialty), and as said I enjoyed it so here it is:

14 Holidays Every Math Major Must Know

Math, however unfairly, has a reputation for being a bit dull. Yet math nerds know that the subject can be just as fascinating and fun as any other college major out there. Of course, convincing others who aren’t mathematically inclined of this fact can be difficult. Luckily, there are some fun holidays out there that can get even the most resistant of individuals to enjoy celebrating some of the fundamentals of mathematics. Here are just a few of the ones well worth celebrating.
  1. Pi DayCelebrated on March the 14th in the US, this holiday recognizes the mathematical constant of Pi, which is often abbreviated to 3.14– hence the date of the holiday. Math geeks can celebrate by enjoying the wonders of Pi through math, watching the movie Pi, eating actual pie or some Pi-inspired art.
  2. Square Root DayThe date of Square Root Day changes depending on the year. For instance, square root day could be 3/3/09 or 4/4/16, meaning this holiday only comes around once in a great while, so you should party it up while you can. Some ideas for enjoying square root day include cooking up some delicious root veggies, square dancing or anything else punny involving squares or roots.
  3. Sonia Kovalevsky Mathematics DaysWomen in math will love this event. Mostly celebrated at middle and high schools, this holiday isn’t set on a fixed date, but usually takes place in the spring. It is meant to encourage young women to pursue a career in a math or science field, inspired by Sonia Kovalevsky, an important Russian mathematician. Math geeks can attend lectures on this day or participate in workshops.
  4. e DayWhile not as well-known as Pi, e is also an irrational number that occurs naturally in the grand scheme of mathematics. Discovered by a number of mathematicians, it’s useful in helping puzzle out exponential and logarithmic functions. The rough numerical equivalent of e is 2.7, making the logical day to celebrate it February 7th. As to how you celebrate e Day, well, that’s up to you. You can only eat foods that start with e, read the poetry of ee cummings, watch the E! Network or just do some fun math related to e.
  5. Math 2.0 DayUse this holiday to celebrate the intersection of math and technology. Only July 8th, spend your day using math programs, attending tech lectures and appreciating the subject on the web.
  6. Pi Approximation DaySome prefer to celebrate Pi not on the decimal equivalent to Pi, but instead on the fraction that represents it: 22/7. Twenty two divided by seven gives you the approximate value of Pi, hence the name of the holiday. Celebrations of this day are pretty much the same as those on 3/14, so why not celebrate twice a year with twice the pie?
  7. Odd DayOdd day is a day that singles out those wonderful, wacky odd numbers. It occurs when three consecutive odd numbers make up a date– something that happens only six times a century. The last Odd Day was 5/7/09 and the next will be on 7/9/11. Enjoy Odd Day by, well, being odd.
  8. Powers of Ten DayThis holiday is all about seeing the world in a different light, though different magnitudes of 10 to be more precise. It was celebrated on 10/10/10 and isn’t due to come around again for quite some time, so if you missed your chance to celebrate in 2010, you likely won’t live to see this holiday come round again.
  9. World Maths DayThis is the day when math finally gets its due. Celebrated internationally on March 1st, the holiday recognizes all things mathematical, focusing special attention on getting kids enthused about a career in math or doing equations. You can celebrate World Maths (or Math if you’re not a fan of the British spelling) Day any way you like, so long as it involves the subject.
  10. Mole DayKnow the math behind chemistry? Then you’ve likely heard of Avagadro’s number (6.02×10^23) that’s used as a basic unit of measure in chemistry, more commonly referred to as a Mole. It’s observed on October 23rd from 6:02 am to 6:02 pm, and can include enjoying anything mole related from mole sauce to Whack-a-Mole. The punnier, the better.
  11. Pythagorean Theorem Day: Pythagoras’ theorem states that the length of sides of a right triangle will always fit the equation a squared + b squared = c squared. Thus, this holiday is celebrated on dates which meet this criteria. For example, 6/8/10 would be one such date. Enjoy this holiday by playing the triangle, doing some geometry and eating Greek food.
  12. Math Storytelling DayOn Math Storytelling Day, those who love math can have fun making up and sharing math-related stories. They can involve puzzles, logic, human relationships, just about anything so long as there’s math in there somewhere. This holiday is observed on September 25th and can be a lot of fun for kids and adults alike.
  13. Celebration of MindHeld in honor or Martin Gardner’s birthday, this holiday held on October 21st encourages a fun and playful approach to mathematics and logic puzzles. Celebrants can mark the day by doing fun math puzzles, performing magic tricks, or even sharing math stories.
  14. Fibonacci DayIf you’re a math nerd, you’ve more than likely heard of Fibonacci’s sequence. This sequence, made famous by the Italian mathematician, creates a spiral and begins with the numbers 1, 1, 2, 3, so the holiday is celebrated on November 23rd of each year. There are no set guidelines for celebration, so those who want to mark the occasion can do anything from delve into the sequence to enjoy Italian food.

FUN with MATH !!

Thanks to Ulla Mattfolk of Finland for this:

Math professor Dave Richeson's Double Torus Clothesline Trick:

Lady has problem with basic clock arithmetic:

Integration Joke

Right Brain Math


I reviewed UK Mathematics Historian Tony Crilly's 50 Mathematical Ideas You Really Need to Know in February ==> HERE. That is the first link and very important as it lists the 50 chapters, 4 pages each, of this wonderfully concise book.

In Part 1, I combined the little timelines in each chapter up though Chapter 14, up to and including Algebra. Numbers in parentheses are Chapter numbers, which is why I asked you to click on that first link, first. I also have introductory notes there.

In Part 2, I added Chapters 15-19, up to and including Calculus.

In this Part 3, all 50 chapter timelines are shown. The new items in Chapters 20-50 are in bold.

This list seems long, and it is (prints out at 13+ pages), but it's useful, important, yet ... finite! :-) I shall be referring to this timeline in the coming months.

Part 4 will be analysis of this list.

Enjoy, and Go, Go Euclid !


30,000 BC - Paleolithic peoples in Europe make number marks on bones (2)

3000 BC - The Babylonians use a sexagesimal number system for financial dealings (44)

2800 BC - The legend of the Lo Shu square is born (42)

2000 BC - The Babylonians use symbols for numbers (2)

2000 BC - The Babylonians observe pi is roughly 3 (5)

1950 BC - The Babylonians work with quadratic equations (14)

1850 BC - The Babylonians know "Pythagoras's Theorem" (21)

1800 BC - Fractions are used in Babylonian cultures (3)

c. 1800 BC - The Rhind papyrus is written in Egypt (41)

1750 BC - The Babylonians compile tables of square roots (4)

1650 BC - The Egyptians make use of unit fractions (3)

700 BC - The Babylonians use zero as a placeholder in their number system (1)

525 BC - The Pythagoreans study geometrically arranged square numbers (4)

525 BC - The Pythagoreans are associated with both perfect and abundant numbers (10)

c. 500 BC - Fragmentary evidence exists for Pascal's triangle in Sanskrit (13)

c. 450 BC - Zeno ridicules infinitesimals with a paradox (19)

450 BC - Anaxogoras attempts to square the circle while in prison (20)

350 BC - Aristotle rejects an actual infinite (7)

c. 335 BC - Aristotle formalizes the logic of the the syllogism (16)

c. 300 BC - The theory of the irrational numbers by Eudoxus is published in Book 5 of Euclid's Elements (4)

300 BC - Euclid's Elements gives a proof that there are infinitely many prime numbers (9)

300 BC - Book 9 of Euclid's Elements discusses perfect numbers (10)

c. 300 BC - The extreme and mean ratio is published in Euclid's Elements (12)

c. 300 BC - Euclid's Elements provides the model for mathematical proof (17)

c. 300 BC - Euclid's algorithm is published in Book 7 of Elements (15)

c. 300 BC - Euclid defines the conic sections (22)

c. 300 BC - Euclid shows there are five regular polyhedra (23)

c. 300 BC - Euclid describes a three-dimensional world (24)

c. 300 BC - Euclid includes the parallel postulate in his Elements (27)

250 BC - Archimedes gives the close approximation of pi of 22/7 (5)

c. 250 BC - Archimedes investigates spirals (22)

c. 250 BC - Archimedes investigates truncated polyhedra (23)

230 BC - Eratosthenes of Cyrene describes a method for sieving out prime numbers from the whole numbers (9)

c. 225 BC - Apollonius of Perga publishes Conics (22)

200 BC - Chinese mathematicians use arrays of numbers (39)

55 BC - Julius Caesar invades Britain and uses codes to communicate with his generals (40)

100 - The Chinese devise a system for calculating with fractions (3)

100 - Nicomachus of Gerasa gives a classification of numbers based on perfect numbers (10)

250 - Diophantus of Alexandria publishes Arithmetica (14)

300 - Sun Tzu discovers the Chinese Algorithm (15)

600 - The forerunner of our modern decimal notation is used in India (2)

628 - Brahmagupta uses zero and states rules for its use with other numerals (1)

630 - Brahmagupta gives methods for computing square roots (4)

810 - Al-Khwarizmi gives the word "algorithm" to mathematics (15)

825 - Derived from "al-jabr" Al-Khwarizmi gives the word "algebra" to mathematics (14)

830 - Mahavira has ideas on how zero interacts with other numerals (1)

c. 1070 - Omar Khayyam discovers Pascal's triangle, which in some countries is named after him (13)

1100 - Bhaskara uses zero as a symbol in algebra and attempts to show how it is manipulated (1)

c. 1100 - Bhaskara deals with permutations and combinations (41)

1200 - The Hindu-Arabic system of writing numerals 1,...,9, and a zero, spreads (2)

1202 - Fibonacci uses the extra symbol 0 added to the Hindu-Arabic system of numerals 1,...,9 but not as a number on par with them (1)

1202 - Fibonacci publishes the Liber Abaci and Fibonacci numbers (11)

1202 - Fibonacci popularizes the bar notation of fractions (3)

1202 - Fibonacci publishes work on congruences in Liber Abaci (15)

1303 - Zhu Shijie defines Pascal's triangle and shows how to sum certain sequences (13)

1335 - Richard of Wallingford writes a groundbreaking treatise on Trigonometry (21)

1494 - Luca Pacioli publishes financial tables and an account of double-entry bookkeeping (44)

1509 - Paciola publishes The Divine Proportion (12)

1550 - The square root symbol is introduced (4)

1571 - Francois Viete publishes a book on trigonometry and trigonometric tables (21)

1572 - Rafael Bombelli calculates with imaginary numbers (8)

1585 - Simon Stevin sets out a theory of decimal fractions (3)

1591 - Francois Viete writes a mathematical text in terms of letters for knowns and unknowns (14)

1600 - The symbols of the decimal system take their recognizable modern forms (2)

1603 - Pietro Cataldi finds the 6th and 7th perfect numbers, 2^16(2^17 -1) = 8,589,869,056 and 2^18(2^19 - 1) = 137,438,691,328 (10)

1618 - John Napier encounters a constant, e, in connection with logarithms (6)

1631 - Galileo gives "Galilean transformations" for falling bodies (48)

1639 - Girard Desargues introduces the concept of infinity into geometry (7)

1639 - Pascal discovers his theorem while only 16 years old (28)

1654 - Blaise Pascal lays the foundations of probability theory (21)(33)

1655 - John Wallis is credited with being the first to use the "love knot" symbol for infinity (7)

1657 - Christiaan Huygens writes the first published work on probability (31)(33)

1664 - Pascal's paper on the properties of Pascal's triangle is published posthumously (13)

1665 - Fermat dies, leaving no record of his "wonderful proof" (49)

1660's-1670's - Newton and Leibniz take the first steps in Calculus (19)

1672 - Mohr shows that all Euclidean constructions can be carried out with compasses alone (20)

1676 - Romer calculates the speed of light from observations of the moons of Jupiter (48)

1687 - Descartes promotes mathematical rigour as a model in his Discourse on Method (17)

1687 - Newton's Principia describes the classical laws of motion (48)

1690 - de la Loubere produces a Siamese method for constructing magic squares (42)

1693 - Bernard Frenicle de Bessy lists all the 880 possible 4 x 4 magic squares (42)

1700 - The fractional line "-" is in general use (as is %) (3)

1704 - Newton classifies the cubic curves (22)

1706 - William Jones introduces the pi symbol (5)

1713 - Waldegrave gives the first mathematical solution of a two-player game (47)

1714 - Leibniz discusses the harmonic triangle (13)

1718 - Abraham de Moivre publishes The Doctrine of Chance, with expanded editions following in 1738 and 1756 (33)(37)

1718 - Abraham de Moivre investigates morality statistics and the foundation of the theory of annuities (44)

1724 - Daniel Bernoulli expresses the numbers of the Fibonacci sequence in terms of the golden ratio (11)

1727 - Euler uses the notation e in connection with the theory of logarithms; it is sometimes called Euler's number (6)

1733 - De Moivre publishes work on the normal curve as an approximation to the binomial distribution (35)

1734 - Berkeley draws attention to foundational weaknesses in Calculus (19)

1735 - Euler solves the problem of the bridges of Konigsberg (29)

1742 - Goldbach speculates that every even number (more than 2) is a sum of two primes (9)

1748 - Euler calculates e to 23 digits; he is given the credit for the discovery of the famous formula e^i(pi) + 1 = 0 around this time (6)

1750 - Euler's theorem lays the foundations for public key cryptography (40)

1752 - Euler gives his formula for the number of vertices, edges and faces in a polyhedron (23)

1753 - Euler proves Fermat's last theorem for the case n=3 (49)

1756 - James Dobson publishes First Lectures on Insurances (44)

1761 - Lambert proves that pi is irrational (5)

1763 - Bayes's essay on probability is published (32)

1770 - Euler produces a squared (42)

1777 - Euler first uses the symbol i to represent the square root of -1 (8)

1779 - Euler explores the theory of Latin squares (43)

1785 - Condorcet applies probability to the analysis of juries and electoral systems (31)

1801 - Gauss publishes Discourses on Arithmetic including a section on the construction of a regular 17-gon by ruler and compasses (20)

1806 - Argand's diagrammatic representation leads to the name "Argand diagram" (8)

1806 - Brianchon discovers the dual theorem of Pascal's theorem (28)

1806 - Adrien-Marie Legendre fits data by least squares (36)

1809 - Carl Friedrich Gauss uses the least-squares method in Astronomical problems (36)

1810 - Charles Babbage mentions the travelling salesperson problem as an interesting one (46)

1811 - Carl Friedrich Gauss works with functions of complex number variables (8)

1812 - Laplace publishes his essay on a deterministic world (26)

1812 - Laplace publishes his two volume Analytical Theory of Probabilities (31)

1820 - Cauchy formalizes calculus in a rigourous way (19)

1820 - Gauss uses the normal distribution (as the Gaussian) in astronomy as a law of error (35)

1822 - Karl Feuerbach describes the nine point circle of a triangle (21)

1825 - Legendre and Dirichlet independently prove Fermat's Last Theorem for the case n=5 (49)

1826 - Fourier anticipates linear programming; Gauss solves linear equations by Gaussian elimination (45)

1829-31 - Lobachevsky and Bolyai publish their work on hyperbolic geometry (27)

1831 - The travelling salesperson problem appears as a practical problem (46)

1832 - Galois proposes the idea of groups of permutations (38)

1835 - Quetelet uses the normal curve to measure divergence from the average man (35)

1837 - William R. Hamilton treats complex numbers as ordered pairs of real numbers (8)

1837 - Wantzel proves that the classical problems of duplicating a cube and trisecting an angle cannot be solved with ruler and compass (20)

1837 - Simeon-Denis Poisson describes the distribution named after him (34)

1838 - De Morgan introduces the term "Mathematical Induction" (17)

1839 - Lame proves Fermat's Last Theorem for the case n=7 (49)

1843 - Kummer claims he has proved Fermat's Last Theorem, but Dirichlet exposes flaw (49)

1844 - Morse transmits the first message using his code (4)

1846 - Kirkman anticipates the discovery of Steiner triple systems (28)

1847 - Boole publishes The Mathematical Analysis of Logic (16)

1848 - The Institute of Actuaries is founded in London (44)

1850 - J.J. Sylvester introduces the term "matrix" (39)

1850 - Kirkman poses the 15 schoolgirls problem (41)

1852 - Guthrie, De Morgan's student, puts the 4-colour problem to him (30)

1854 - Riemann introduces the Riemann integral (19)

1854 - Riemann lectures on the foundation of geometry (27)

1854 - Cayley attempts to generalize the concept of a group (38)

1854 - Riemann begins his work on the zeta function (50)

1858 - Mobius and Listing introduce the Mobius strip (23)

1858 - Cayley publishes Memoir on the Theory of Matrices (39)

1859 - Riemann proves key solutions to The Riemann Hypothesis lie in a critical strip and puts forward his conjecture (50)

1865 - Mendel proposes the existence of genes and laws of inheritance (37)

1870 - The distribution acquires the name "normal" (35)

1872 - Richard Dedekind sets out a theory of irrational numbers (4)

1872 - Cantor takes a tentative step in the creation of set theory (18)

1872 - Klein unifies geometry via group theory (27)

1872 - Felix Klein begins a programme for classifying geometry using groups (38)

1873 - Hermite proves e is a transcendental (6)

1873 - Brocard produces his exhaustive work on the triangle (21)

1874 - Cantor treats the notion of infinity rigorously, specifying different orders of infinity (7)

1874 - Carl Schorlemmer links chemistry with "trees" (29)

1876 - Fechner writes on psychological experiments to determine the proportions of the most "aesthetic" rectangle (12)

1877 - Cantor is surprised by his controversial discoveries in dimension theory (24)

1878 - Georg Frobenius proves some of the key results of matrix algebra (39)

1879 - Cayley works on a precursor of modern fractals (25)

1879 - Kempe is believed to solve the 4-color problem. He hasn't. (30)

1881 - Venn produces "Venn Diagrams" for sets (18)

1881 - Newcomb discovers what becomes known as Benford's law (34)

1881 - Michelson measures the speed of light with great accuracy (48)

1882 - Lindemann proves that pi is transcendental (5)

1882 - Lindemann proves the circle cannot be squared (20)

1885-8 - Galton introduces regression and correlation (36)

1887 - The Lorenz transformations are first written down (48)

1889 - Poincare encounters chaos in his work on the three-body problem for which he is awarded a prize by King Oscar of Sweden (26)

1890 - Peano proves a solid square is a curve (the space-filling curve) (22)

1890 - Heawood exposes errors in Kempe's 4-colour proof and proves a 5-colour theorem (30)

1891 - Evgraf Fedorov and Arthur Schonflies independently classify the 230 crystallographic groups (38)

1892 - Fano discovers the Fano plane, the simplest example of a projective geometry (28)

1896 - The prime number theorem on the distribution of primes is proved (9)

1896 - Pearson publishes contributions to correlation and regression (36)

1896 - De la Vallee-Poussin and Hadamard show all important zeros lie within Riemann's critical strip (50)

1898 - Bortkiewicz analyses the deaths of Prussian cavalrymen (34)

1899 - Pick publishes his theorem on the area of polygons (28)

1900 - Tarry shows there are no orthogonal Latin squares of order 6 (43)

1900 - Hilbert places Reimann's Hypothesis in his list of key problems for mathematicians to solve. It is Hilbert's personally favorite problem, and still unsolved as of 2011 (50)

1901 - Aleksandr Lyapunov proves the Central Limit theorem rigourously using characteristic functions (35)

1902 - Lebesgue sets out the theory of the Lebesgue integral (19)

1902 - Farkas gives a solution of inequality systems (45)

1904 - von Koch creates his snowflake curve (25)

1904 - Spearman uses rank correlation as a tool for psychological studies (36)

1905 - Einstein publishes On the electrodynamics of moving bodies , the paper that describes special relativity (48)

1907 - von Lindemann claims a proof of Fermat's Last Theorem, but is shown to be wrong (49)

1908 - Hardy and Weinberg show why dominant genes do not supplant recessive genes (37)

1908 - Wolfskehl offers a prize for solutions of Fermat's Last Theorem within the next 100 years (49)

1909 - Brouwer's work changes our notion of dimension (24)

1910 - Russell and Whitehead attempt to reduce mathematics to logic (16)

1912 - Keynes publishes his Treatise on Probability which influences his theories of economics and statistics (31)

1914 - Hardy proves there are infinitely many solutions along Riemann's line (50)

1915 - Einstein publishes The field equations for gravitation, his paper that describes the theory of general relativity, based on Riemannian geometry (27)(48)

1918 - Hausdorff introduces his concept of fractional dimension (25)

1918 - Fisher reconciles Darwin's theory with the Mendelian theory of heredity (37)

1919 - Hausdorff introduces the notion of the fractional "Hausdorff dimension" (24)

1919 - Julia and Fatou investigate fractal structures in the complex plane (25)

1920's - Emmy Noether publishes papers in the development of modern abstract algebra (14)

1920's - Menger and Urysohn define curves as part of topology (22)

1920's - Bose considers Einstein's theory of light as an occupancy problem (33)

1920's - The Enigma machine is developed (40)

1923 - Bartok composes his "Dance Suite", believed to be inspired by the Fibonacci numbers (11)

1925 - Heisenberg uses matrix mechanics in quantum theory (39)

1925 - Fisher suggests using Latin squares to design statistical experiments (43)

1926 - Boruvka introduces the greedy algorithm (46)

1930 - Bartel van der Waerden publishes his famous Moderne Algebra (14)

1930 - Kuratowski proves his planar graphs theorem (29)

1930 - Frank Ramsey works in combinatorics (41)

1931 - Godel proves that any formal axiomatic mathematical system contains undecidable statements   (18)

1933 - Kolmogorov presents probability in an axiomatic way (31)

1935 - George Polya develops counting techniques for graphs as algebra (29)

1937 - De Finetti champions subjective probability as an alternative to the frequency theory (32)

1939 - Benford restates the law of distribution of first digits (34)

1939 - The pseudonym Bourbaki is first used by French mathematicians (18)

1939 - Richard von Mises proposes the birthday problem (33)

1944 - von Neumann and Morgenstern publish Theory of Games and Economic Behavior (47)

1945 - Stigler solves the diet problem by a heuristic method (45)

1947 - Dantzig formulates the simplex method and solves the diet problem by linear programming (45)

1950 - Jimmy Savage and Dennis Lindley spearhead the modern Bayesian movement (32)

1950's - The term "Bayesian" comes into use for the first time (32)

1950 - Zipf derives a formula relating word use to vocabulary (34)

1950 - Richard Hamming publishes a key paper on error-detecting and error-correcting codes   (4)

1950 - Tucker proposes the prisoner's dilemma and nash proposes the nash equilibrium (47)

1953 - The double helix structure of DNA is discovered (37)

1954 - Dantzig and Dijkstra propose methods for attacking the travelling salesperson problem   (46)

1960s - Abraham Robinson devises a non-standard arithmetic based on the notion of the infinitesimal  (7)

1960 - Euler's conjecture about the non-existence of certain pairs of Latin squares is disproved by Bose, Parker and Shrikhande (43)

1961 - Stephen Smale proves the Poincare conjecture in dimensions greater than 4 (23)

1961 - Lorenz observes the butterfly effect. (26)

1963 - The Fibonacci Quarterly, a journal devoted to the number theory of the Fibonacci sequence, is founded (11)

1964 - Cohen proves the independence of the continuum hypothesis (18)

1965 - Lofti Zadeh develops fuzzy logic (16)

1966 - Chen Jingrun almost confirms the Goldbach conjecture (9)

1967 - Bishop proves results exclusively by constructive methods (17)

1970's - The Chinese remainder theorem is applied to message encryption (15)

1970's - Public key cryptography is developed (40)

1970 - String theory conceives of our universe having 10, 11 or 26 dimensions (24)

1971 - Robert May investigates chaos in the population model (26)

1971 - Ray-Chaudhuri and Wilson prove the existence of Kirkman's systems (41)

1971 - Cook formulates the P versus NP concept for algorithms (46)

1975 - The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines the A paper size (12)

1975 - Mandelbrot introduces the term fractal (25)

1976 - Imre Lakatos publishes the influential Proofs and Refutations (17)

1976 - Appel and Haken give a computer-based proof for the general result of the 4-colour problem (30)

1979 - Sudoku-like games are invented in New York (43)

1982 - Michael Freedman proves the Poincare conjecture in dimension equal to 4 (23)

1982 - Maynard Smith publishes Evolution and the Theory of Games (47)

1983 - The classification of finite simple groups is completed and the enormous theorem proved (38)

1984 - Karmarker at Bell Labs derives a new algorithm for solving linear programming problems (45)

1987 - The underground train system in Japan is based on fuzzy logic (16)

1986 - Sallows creates his letter-based square (42)

1992 - The International Society for Bayesian Analysis is founded (32)

1994 - The computer proof of the 4-colour problem is simplified by remains a computer-based proof (30)

1994 - Nash is awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on game theory (47)

1994 - Wiles finally proves Fermat's Last Theorem (49)

1999 - Eric Rains and Neil Sloane extend tree counting (29)

2002 - Perelman proves the Poincare conjecture for dimension 3 (23)

2003 - The Poisson distribution is used in the analysis of fish stocks in the North Atlantic (34)

2004 - Chaos theory reaches popular culture in the film The Butterfly Effect (26)

2004 - David Applegate solves the travelling salesperson problem for all 24,978 cities in Sweden (46)

2004 - The first 10 trillion zeros of Riemann's Hypothesis are verified to be on the critical line. (50)

2006 - The great prime search project finds the 44th Mersenne prime (with almost ten million digits) and yet another new perfect number can be generated (10)

2007 - e is calculated to 10^11 digits (6)

2007 - Sculptor Peter Randall-Page creates the 70 tonne sculpture "Seed" based on the Fibonacci sequence for the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK (11)

Source material, here. Thank you, Tony Crilly, great book!

Mathematics Jokes

No matter what I serve my guests, they seem to like my Math jokes best.


A mathematician and an engineer are sitting at a table drinking when a very beautiful woman walks in and sits down at the bar.

The mathematician sighs. "I'd like to talk to her, but first I have to cover half the distance between where we are and where she is, then half of the distance that remains, then half of that distance, and so on. The series is infinite. There'll always be some finite distance between us."

The engineer gets up and starts walking. "Ah, well, I figure I can get close enough for all practical purposes."


A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems
... Alfréd Rényi


A topologist is a mathematician who can't tell the difference between a doughnut and a coffee mug.


Did you know that all numbers are interesting? What’s that? You don’t believe me? Well I have a proof. Suppose not every number is interesting. Then let n be the smallest uninteresting number. That’s a rather interesting property isn’t it?
... Ron Graham

Q: What is the difference between a mathematician and a philosopher?
A: The mathematician only needs paper, pencil, and a trash bin for his work - the philosopher can do without the trash bin...

Q: What is the difference between a Ph.D. in mathematics and a large pizza?
A: A large pizza can feed a family of four.

When the math professor's wife returns home from work, she finds an envelope on the living room table. She opens it and finds a letter from her husband:

My dearest wife,

We have been married for nearly thirty years, and I still love you as much as on the day I proposed. You must realize, however, that you are now 54 years old and no longer able to satisfy certain needs I still have. I very much hope that you are not hurt to learn that, while you're reading this, I'm in a hotel room with an 18-year-old freshman girl from my calculus class. I'll be home before midnight.

Your husband, who will never stop loving you.

When the professor returns from the hotel shortly before midnight, he also finds an envelope in the living room. He opens it and reads:

My beloved husband,

You may recall that you, too, are 54 years old and no longer able to satisfy certain needs I still have. I thus hope that you are not hurt to learn that, while you're reading this, I am in a hotel room with the 18-year-old pool boy.

Your loving wife.

P.S. As a mathematician, you are certainly aware of the fact that 18 goes into 54 many more times than 54 goes into 18. Therefore, don't stay up and wait for me.

Q. Why do mathematicians like national parks?

A. Because of the natural logs.

Q: Why didn’t Newton discover group theory?
A: Because he wasn’t Abel.

The integral of e raised to the power of x equals the function of u raised to the power of n.

(Write it out in notation to see the joke)

Did you really write it out? You didn't do that in your head? ;-)

True story:
A student walked into his discrete math class late and in order not to interrupt he put his late slip on the teacher's desk furtively without the teacher noticing. The teacher noticed the slip on his desk afterwards. He commented "I see you put this slip on my desk without me noticing. I guess that's why they call this class discrete mathematics."

There is a shipwreck, and the only three survivors are a Doctor, a Lawyer, and a Mathematician, in a rowboat.

After some time drifting about the seas, eventually they get get to talking and get to know each other. One day the doctor asks, "Is it better to have a wife or a girlfriend? I would say it's better to have a wife. I work long hard and emotional hours, and it's really great to have a caring wife who cooks great meals, cleans my clothes, and expertly manages our home and children."

The lawyer says, "I think it's better to have a girlfriend. I'm a Divorce Lawyer and the cost to the man in Divorce is so extreme I don't see where having a wife is worth the risk."

The mathematician says, "I think it's better to have both."

"What !?" say the doctor and lawyer. "Why?"

"Because," the mathematician says, "You can tell your wife you're working late, and your girlfriend you need to spend time with your family, which gives you more time to work on proving the Riemann Hypothesis !"