The Lake Woebegon Effect and Counting Numbers

Mathematician Jim Propp connects the counting numbers — the concept of them, not particular, specific numbers — to the seemingly unconnected Lake Woebegon Effect. Propp’s essay appears in his Mathematical Enchantments blog: Beneath and Beyond … The twentieth century weekly radio show “A Prairie Home Companion” had a recurring feature called “The news from Lake […]

You Might Say Too Many Names for Too Many Numbers

“One problem with using nomenclature that gives credit to specific people is that you either create a winner-take-all situation or you create an ungainly string of names separated by hyphens. Also, if some hitherto unknown forerunner suddenly pops up, you suddenly have to change the name to acknowledge the newly discovered ‘winner’ “. So writes […]

Successor Rules for Flipping Pancakes and Burnt Pancakes

The theoretical advanced in pancake flipping, discusses in the August 2020 issue of mini-AIR, were not the end of the story.  Further advances can be found in this study: “Successor Rules for Flipping Pancakes and Burnt Pancakes,” Joe Sawada and A. Williams, Theoretical Computer Science, vol. 609, part 1, 4 January 2016, pp 60-75. The […]

Pocket-Sized #1008: “Horse Calculus”

Horse Calculus In this Pocket-Sized episode #1008, Marc Abrahams shows an unusual research study to Mason Porter. Dramatic readings and reactions ensue. The research mentioned in this episode is featured in the special Mathematics issue (Vol. 16, #4) of the Annals of Improbable Research Magazine. Remember, our Patreon donors, on most levels, get access to each podcast episode before […]

Mathematics and the end of the world, predictably

A prize-winning profession confidently confronts a new challenge. Some professionals—professionals who professionally calculate a date on which the world will end—have calculated that the COVID-19 pandemic is not a goodbye-everyone harbinger. The Washington Post reports, on March 17, 2020: This is not the end of the world, according to Christians who study the end of […]

Factorizations in the Chicken McNugget monoid

A new study serves up new nuggets of mathematical insight from Chicken McNuggets: “Distances between factorizations in the Chicken McNugget monoid,” Scott Chapman, Pedro Garcia-Sanchez, Christopher O’Neill, arXiv 1912.04494v1, 2019. The authors explain: We use the Chicken McNugget Monoid to demonstrate various factorization properties related to relations and chains of factorizations. We study in depth […]