July 23, 2014
Why Do Americans Stink at Math

Elizabeth Green:

One of the most vivid arithmetic failings displayed by Americans occurred in the early 1980s, when the A&W restaurant chain released a new hamburger to rival the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. With a third-pound of beef, the A&W burger had more meat than the Quarter Pounder; in taste tests, customers preferred A&W’s burger. And it was less expensive. A lavish A&W television and radio marketing campaign cited these benefits. Yet instead of leaping at the great value, customers snubbed it.

Only when the company held customer focus groups did it become clear why. The Third Pounder presented the American public with a test in fractions. And we failed. Misunderstanding the value of one-third, customers believed they were being overcharged. Why, they asked the researchers, should they pay the same amount for a third of a pound of meat as they did for a quarter-pound of meat at McDonald’s. The “4” in “¼,” larger than the “3” in “⅓,” led them astray.

[source: mme rss]

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Filed under: math wars 
July 22, 2014
Managing Risk: How to Make Better Decisions

Big Think Editors:

In the latest installment of Big Think Edge, psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer explains how to analyze risk. The author of Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions, Gigerenzer teaches this exclusive workshop, where he stresses understanding the critical difference between calculable risk and uncertainty.

[source: mme rss]

July 21, 2014
The Role of Mathematics Departments in the Mathematical Preparation of Elementary Teachers

Diana White:

Mathematics departments have long provided the bulk of the mathematics content training for both practicing teachers and those studying to be teachers.  This is a tremendous responsibility, and one that presents a variety of challenges and opportunities.  In this post, we start early in the mathematical spectrum – with elementary teachers and how mathematics departments impact their mathematical preparation.

[source: mme rss]

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Filed under: ams blogs 
July 20, 2014

What is Random?


[source: Dirk Morrison]

July 19, 2014
You shouldn’t try to pigeonhole quantum physics

Tom Siegfried:

Just when you thought quantum physics couldn’t get any weirder, it violates the pigeonhole principle.

[source: mme rss]

July 18, 2014
Should Travelers Avoid Flying Airlines That Have Had Crashes in the Past?

Nate Silver:

Is this behavior rational? Should we really be less inclined to fly airlines that have had fatal crashes in the past — even when the crashes don’t appear to be their fault? Or are crashes essentially random events that occur at about the same rate on all airlines over the long run? (The two fatal accidents involving Malaysia Airlines this year were the first for the carrier since 1995.)

[source: mme rss]

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Filed under: silver 538 stats 
July 18, 2014
Manitoba reading, math, science scores in the toilet

Michael Zwaagstra: 

Richards noted that from 2000 to the present, Manitoba was one of only two provinces (the other being Prince Edward Island) to experience a statistically significant decline in all three competency areas. To make matters worse, only Manitoba’s math and reading results declined by 35 points.

I’ve alerted my Inbox to expect a WISE Math email alert in the not too distant future…

[source: mme rss]

July 18, 2014
The Mathematician Who Showed How the US Could Be Made A Dictatorship

Esther Inglis-Arkell:

In order to get citizenship, Gödel had to pass various tests, go through an interview, and have a couple people vouching for his character. One of those people was Albert Einstein, so Gödel was made a citizen. After the citizenship was confirmed, Einstein talked about how Gödel’s interview went. The officer conducting the interview mentioned how wonderful it was that the United States was not and would never become a dictatorship. Gödel, obviously pleased that the subject was raised, said that actually it was perfectly possible for the US to become a dictatorship. In fact, he said, he had discovered a loophole in the Constitution that made the entire thing quite likely.

[source: mme rss]

July 17, 2014
Should We Stop Teaching Calculus In High School?

Steven Salzberg:

Math education needs a reboot. Kids today are growing up into a world awash in data, and they need new skills to make sense of it all.

The list of high school math courses in the U.S. hasn’t changed for decades. My daughters are taking the same courses I took long ago: algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. These are all fine subjects, but they don’t serve the needs of the 21st century.

[source: mme rss]

July 16, 2014
Mathematics makes strong case that “snoopy2” can be just fine as a password

Dan Goodin:

A team of researchers says the widely repeated advice isn’t feasible in practice, and they’ve provided the math they say proves it. The burden stems from the two foundations of password security that (A1) passwords should be random and strong and (A2) passwords shouldn’t be reused across multiple accounts. Those principles are sound when protecting a handful of accounts, particularly those such as bank accounts, where the value of the assets being protected is considered extremely high. Where things break down is when the dictates are applied across a large body of passwords that protect multiple accounts, some of which store extremely low-value data, such as the ability to post comments on a single website.

[source: mme rss]

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Filed under: offbeat 
July 16, 2014
Do mathematicians need new journals about education?

Priscilla Bremser:

In the past nine months, I’ve heard colleagues at three different meetings—an AMS sectional meeting in Louisville, the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Baltimore, and the Contemporary Issues in Mathematics Education workshop at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute—identify a need for journals focused on publishing useful refereed articles for mathematicians about mathematics education. This raises several questions that get at fundamental issues in the complicated and sometimes uneasy relationships among research mathematicians, mathematics education specialists, and those with interests in both areas (I put myself in the last category).

[source: Patrick Honner’s Twitter feed]

July 13, 2014
The Fourier transform lets you have your cake and understand it

Alok Jha:

If there’s a mathematical idea that applies itself to almost everything in everyday life but is almost unknown outside the scientific world, the Fourier transform has to be the most unsung contender. It pops up wherever scientists need to study complex things that fluctuate in the real world – sound, heat, light, stock prices – and has been used to separate the signal from the noise in data collected for astronomy, medicine, genetics and chemistry. It is also the main equation used in the compression of digital images and sound on the web.

[source: mme rss]

July 12, 2014
9th International Conference on Teaching Statistics (ICOTS9)

See you there! #icots9 

July 11, 2014
How math is growing more strawberries in Southern California

Rebecca Jacobson:

Farming takes more than sunshine, water and good soil. It takes math. Mathematicians are helping farmers use numerical modeling to boost strawberry and raspberry production in Southern California. Numbers can tell farmers how to make the best use of their limited water in the berry-producing Parajo Valley.

[source: mme rss]

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Filed under: food modeling 
July 11, 2014
Students doing better than PISA results suggest: Education ministers

Teresa Wright:

A random sample of P.E.I. teachers performed recently by the province found not one had a background or major in mathematics.

“That was a bit of a wakeup call with regards to the skills we have in math,” McIsaac said.

[source: mme rss]

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