1-2021 The mathematician who was a tramp

Paul Erdos PGOM, LD, AD,LD, CD

Paul Erdos was a brilliant hungarian mathematician. He was known both for his social practice of mathematics (he engaged more than 500 collaborators) and for his eccentric lifestyle. He did not have a roof of his own, and spent his life as a nomadic tramp.

Possessions meant little to Erdős; most of his belongings would fit in a small suitcase, as dictated by his itinerant lifestyle. Awards and other earnings were generally donated to people in need and various worthy causes. He spent most of his life traveling between scientific conferences, universities and the homes of colleagues all over the world. He earned enough in stipends from universities as a guest lecturer, and from various mathematical awards, to fund his travels and basic needs; money left over he used to fund cash prizes for mathematicians.

He would typically show up at a colleague's doorstep and announce "my brain is open", staying long enough to collaborate on a few papers before moving on a few days later. In many cases, he would ask the current collaborator about whom to visit next.

Who is a PGOM LD AD LD CD ? See this video for the answer.

This, and many more similar stuff is available here. Take a look.

Who says, mathematicians have no sense of humour ?



5-2018 Who is better : Norbert Wiener or Albert Einstein ?

Norbert Wiener was in fact a very absent minded genius.

The following story is told about him: When they moved from Cambridge to Newton, his wife, knowing that he would be absolutely useless on the move, packed him off to MIT while she directed the move. Since she was certain that he would forget that they had moved and where they had moved to, she wrote down the new address on a piece of paper, and gave it to him.

Naturally, in the course of the day, an insight occurred to him. He reached in his pocket, found a piece of paper on which he furiously scribbled some notes, thought it over, decided there was a fallacy in his idea, and threw the piece of paper away.

At the end of the day he went home (to the old address in Cambridge, of course). When he got there he realized that they had moved, that he had no idea where they had moved to, and that the piece of paper with the address was long gone.

Fortunately inspiration struck. There was a young girl on the street and he conceived the idea of asking her where he had moved to, saying, "Excuse me, perhaps you know me. I'm Norbert Wiener and we've just moved. Would you know where we've moved to?" To which the young girl replied, "Yes daddy, mommy thought you would forget."

That's not all about Weiner.....

According to one of his biographers, Norbert Weiner spent 30 years “wandering the halls of MIT, like a duck”, one of its most well-regarded and renowned professors of mathematics, especially known for his absent-mindedness:

“His office was a few doors down the hall from mine. He often visited my office to talk to me. When my office was moved after a few years, he came in to introduce himself. He didn’t realize I was the same person he had frequently visited; I was in a new office so he thought I was someone else.”— Phyllis L. Block

“He went to a conference and parked his car in the big lot. When the conference was over, he went to the lot but forgot where he parked his car. He even forgot what his car looked like. So he waited until all the other cars were driven away, then took the car that was left.” — Howard Eves

“When we met, was I walking to the faculty club or away from it? I’m wondering, because in the latter case I’ve already had my lunch”

Weiner or Einstein ? Who is better ? You be the judge.

And now, some good ones about Einstein:

1.Einstein takes a train

2. Gone for lunch

3. And now, find out who is better -- Einstein or Chaplin ?

When Einstein met Chaplin in 1931, Einstein said, “What I admire most about your art is its universality. You do not say a word, and yet the world understands you."

“It's true.” replied Chaplin, "But your fame is even greater. The world admires you, even though they don't understand a word of what you say ."

That's what geniuses are made of.


4-2018 Gone for lunch... pls. wait

Here is another good one about Albert Einstein : He was once found sitting outside his office, because when returning to his own office he saw a “GONE TO LUNCH. BE BACK IN 10 MINUTES” sign.

Supposedly, he was found sitting outside, waiting for himself to come back.

3-2018 Einstein in a train

Can you believe it ? This is a story about the most incredibly brilliant mind of our times.

Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn't find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn't there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn't find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn't find it.

The conductor said, "Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I'm sure you bought a ticket. Don't worry about it."

Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.

The conductor rushed back and said, "Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don't worry, I know who you are. No problem. You don't need a ticket. I'm sure you bought one."

Einstein looked at him and said, "Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don't know is where I'm going."


2-2018 Teaching by misleading

A good teacher never misleads his/her students. Right ? Wrong ?

As a teacher, I often ask questions in the class, basically to nudge and provoke my students to think. Sometime these questions have a misleading hint, just to confuse the student and lead him/her to the right concept. My favourite one is in my class on "number theory" when I wave my palm with all fingers open, and ask the question "show me the number five". The students invariably fall for the visual cue (my open palm) and fumble around, till I emphasise that a number is only an abstraction and cannot be used/shown all alone. I feel that such (misleading) prompting questions can often be useful in the classroom. But, this should be done in moderation and very carefully.

What does this community think about my approach ? Send me a mail.


1-2018 Book Review "Formula. How algorithms ..."

The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems . . . and Create More
Paperback – November 3, 2015
by Luke Dormehl (Author)
Pub.: Perigee, Penguin Random House, NY, Nov.2015.
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Tarcher Perigee; Reprint edition (November 3, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399170545
ISBN-13: 978-0399170546

This book drew my attention because of its deceptively worded title. I spent some time on it, trying to figure out what the author was trying to communicate.

The author, Luke Dormehl is a journalist and technology writer. With a background in documentary film, he has contributed to Fast Company, Wired, Politico, The Sunday Times, and other publications.

The author must be appreciated for his honesty in admitting what this book is NOT about. It is certainly not a book on "How algorithms solve all our problems....." Neither is it a book on mathematics, logic or philosophy. There is not a single formula except for its mention in the title of the book. The author has gathered an impressive list of references and avoided mention of any reference to any author or article related to algorithms. The book is just a clumsy collection of rhetorical generalisations drowned in journalistic verbosity. This is proof that literate eloquence does not always lead to intelligent discourse.

Of course, the book did not answer any of the questions prompted in the title.

I am not disappointed.



1-2017 More on the randomness of randomness.

Some time ago, I published this short article on randomness. I thought I was the only one who had such silly doubts on uch a well-known mathematical concept. And, now, I discover the profoundness of my question. I found this interesting article, on stackexchange. Thanks to the guys who posted the article and the responses. I love the opportunity to learn.


12-2016 Men of mathematics -- a book review

Men of Mathematics: The Lives and Achievements of the Great Mathematicians from Zeno to Poincare, by E. T. Bell

I discovered a great book today `` Men of Mathematics: The Lives and Achievements of the Great Mathematicians from Zeno to Poincare '', by E. T. Bell, a Touchstone Book, published by Simon and Schuster. The book was first published in 1937 by Scottish-born American mathematician and science fiction writer Eric Temple Bell (1883 -- 1960). Besides being a gifted mathematician and a prolific writer, the author was a President of the Mathematical Society of America, Vice-President of the American Mathematical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. One can expect much from a book written by an author with such impressive credentials. Curious students of mathematics, as well as mature teachers will find this book useful, since it suits both seasoned mathematicians and wannabes.

This is a 590 page book, and is available in paperback edition. The book contains bio-sketches of more than 27 mathematicians, arranged chronologically in 29 chapters. The book starts with Zeno of Elea (ca. 490 -- 430 BC) and ends with George Cantor (1845 -- 1918). Each chapter (except two chapters) is devoted to a single mathematician. Each chapter has an aptly chosen title which gives a hint of what is to follow. Chapters are not chained to any other chapter. The book can therefore be read in any sequence.

Contrary to the impression that the book's title may give, this book is ``NOT intended to be a history of mathematics, or any section of such a history''. It is also not a chronicle of just anecdotes and episodes in the life of these men. In this spirit, the book contains a fair sprinkling of mathematical snippets related to these mathematicians. The dosage of mathematics is just enough to keep the average reader from dozing off.

As mentioned before, the book starts with Zeno of Elea (ca. 490 -- 430 BC).Very little is known about Zeno's life. Zeno of Elea is often remembered for his philosophical problems based on paradoxes. Zeno's arguments are perhaps the first examples of a method of proof called reductio ad absurdum also known as proof by contradiction. The concept of “proof”, so central to all mathematics, seems to have grown from the principles set up by Zeno. It is not surprising that the book starts with a mention of Zeno.

This book gives us detailed images of the persons behind some great mathematical achievements. We can mention a few examples here. This book gives an opportunity to learn about the tug-of-war between Newton and Leibniz. It devotes an entire chapter to each of these two adversaries. Ironically, these two chapters are placed just one after the other. One can also get a glimpse of the miserable life of Abel, or the aristocratic lineage of Fermat

Some people say that this book has a few historical inaccuracies. Complaints like this are common in narrations of such vintage and magnitude. Such blemishes, if any, can be overlooked, considering the huge amount of information compiled by the author.

The lives of many mathematicians are witness to controversies and disputes. Cantor was no exception. He sums up his reactions stoically as ``The essence of mathematics resides in its freedom''. This sentence brings down the curtain on this wonderful book.

It is said that this book has inspired many young people, including the young John Forbes Nash Jr. and Freeman Dyson, to become mathematicians. It can therefore be of immense use to many of my colleagues and students.

* * *


11-2016 Enjoy this Major Technology Breakthrough !

Announcing the new Built-in Orderly Organized Knowledge-device (BOOK). The BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: No wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It's so easy to use even a child can operate it. Just lift its cover!

Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere -- even sitting in an armchair by the fire -- yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc. Here's how it works...

Each BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. These pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence. Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs in half. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now BOOKs with more information simply use more pages. This makes them thicker and harder to carry, and has drawn some criticism from the mobile computing crowd.

Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet. The BOOK may be taken up at any time and used by merely opening it. The BOOK never crashes and never needs rebooting, though like other display devices it can become unusable if dropped overboard. The "browse" feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish. Many come with an "index" feature, which pinpoints the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval.

An optional "BOOKmark" accessory allows you to open the BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session -- even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single BOOKmark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers. Conversely, numerous BOOKmarks can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once. The number is limited only by the number of pages in the BOOK.

You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with an optional programming tool, the Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Stylus (PENCILS).

Portable, durable, and affordable, the BOOK is being hailed as the entertainment wave of the future. The BOOK's appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform.

Look for a flood of new titles soon.

(by Alan S. Zaben?)

Found at : http://www.infiltec.com/j-book.htm


10-2016 Another incredible story of a woman mathematician

Christine Ladd-Franklin

Did a PhD dissertation: "On the Algebra of Logic" at The Johns Hopkins University 1926 (1882) United States

Her dissertation was completed in 1882, however, the school did not award her with a Ph.D until 1926. She waited 44 years to actually get her PhD, and died a mere 4 years later.

Source : Mathematics Genealogy Project http://genealogy.math.ndsu.nodak.edu/id.php?id=41944

Biography: Biography of Christine Ladd Franklin

Case study of the prejudices she suffered: Christine Ladd’s life story is a casebook study of the prejudices that women, who wished to enter academia suffered in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.