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Buddha (3) vs. John Updike

Yesterday‘s winner is Friedrich Nietzsche. I don’t really have much to say here: there was lots of enthusiasm about the philosopher and none at all for the cozy comedian. Maybe Jonathan Miller would’ve been a better choice. Now for today’s battle. Show More Summary

“Precise Answers to the Wrong Questions”

Our friend K? (not to be confused with X) seeks pre-feedback on this talk: Can we get a mathematical framework for applying statistics that better facilitates communication with non-statisticians as well as helps statisticians avoidShow More Summary

Nine Chapters on the Semigroup Art

While Googling something or other, I came across Nine Chapters on the Semigroup Art, which is a leisurely introduction to the theory of semigroups. (While the document is labelled “lecture notes”, the typography is quite beautiful.)

Friedrich Nietzsche (4) vs. Alan Bennett

William Shakespeare had the most support yesterday; for example, from David: “I vote for Shakespeare just to see who actually shows up.” The best argument of the serious variety came from Babar, who wrote, “I would vote for WS. Very little is known about the man. Show More Summary

Bertrand Russell goes to the IRB

Jonathan Falk points me to this genius idea from Eric Crampton: Here’s a fun one for those of you still based at a university. All of you put together a Human Ethics Review proposal for a field experiment on Human Ethics Review proposals. Show More Summary

How Much Have Sea Levels Climbed? It’s Hard to Say

This week in The Numbers, our fearless numerical explorer Jo Craven McGinty dives into sea level measurements. Her finding? Sea levels are hard to pin down. Data collection has been inconsistent. And the physics of the moving world isn't helping things.

William Shakespeare (1) vs. Karl Marx

For yesterday‘s winner, I’ll follow the reasoning of Manuel in comments: Popper. We would learn more from falsifying the hypothesis that Popper’s talk is boring than what we would learn from falsifying the hypothesis that Richard Pryor’s talk is uninteresting. Show More Summary


For those readers who understand spoken French (or simply appreciate the musicality of the language) and are interested in the history of mathematics, I warmly recommend listening to the recording of a recent programme of Radio France Internationale entitled “Pourquoi Bourbaki ?” In addition to the dialogue of Sophie Joubert with Michèle Audin and Antoine […]

Number of the Day: 2/29

Happy birthday, leap day babies! The Numbers, fascinated by all things leap, would never forget. While those fortunate enough to have been born on Feb. 29 won't have an actual "birthday" this year, that doesn't mean they have no reason to celebrate. They were still born. But when to celebrate?

“The harm done by tests of significance” (article from 1994 in the journal, “Accident Analysis and Prevention”)

Ezra Hauer writes: In your January 2013 Commentary (Epidemiology) you say that “…misunderstanding persists even in high-stakes settings.” Attached is an older paper illustrating some such. “It is like trying to sink a battleship by firing...Show More Summary

Currency Exchange

There is much data available on the internet, and it is often convenient to query that data in a specific way, repeatedly. In that case, the best thing to do is to write a program to automate the request. Today’s exercise is specifically about currency exchange, but anything is fair game, from weather reports to […]

Concepts of Sameness (Part 2)

Some notes on the Gongsun Long's 'white horse paradox'.

Concepts of Sameness (Part 1)

Here I'll start drafting a paper on 'concepts of sameness', which will be a chapter in Elaine Landry's Categories for the Working Philosopher.

254A, Supplement 6: A cheap version of the theorems of Halasz and Matomaki-Radziwill (optional)

In analytic number theory, it is a well-known phenomenon that for many arithmetic functions of interest in number theory, it is significantly easier to estimate logarithmic sums such as than it is to estimate summatory functions such as (Here we are normalising to be roughly constant in size, e.g. as.) For instance, when is […]

254A, Notes 7: Linnik’s theorem on primes in arithmetic progressions

In the previous set of notes, we saw how zero-density theorems for the Riemann zeta function, when combined with the zero-free region of Vinogradov and Korobov, could be used to obtain prime number theorems in short intervals. It turns out that a more sophisticated version of this type of argument also works to obtain prime […]

Abraham (4) vs. Jane Austen

Yesterday’s is a super-tough call. I’d much rather hear Stewart Lee than Aristotle. I read one of Lee’s books, and he’s a fascinating explicator of performance. Lee gives off a charming David Owen vibe—Phil, you know what I’m sayingShow More Summary

The axes are labeled but I don’t know what the dots represent.

John Sukup writes: I came across a chart recently posted by Boston Consulting Group on LinkedIn and wondered what your take on it was. To me, it seems to fall into the “suspicious” category but thought you may have a different opinion. Show More Summary

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