Computers in Math Education

A guest post by Kyle Cluver:

In Conrad Wolfram’s video, Teaching kids real math with computers, he discusses the interesting topic of mathematics in education versus real world mathematics. He argues that math education is all about calculating and that this “chore” can be done effortlessly with computers. He wants us to stop teaching calculating and start teaching math. Math in the real world is done by virtually everyone that is solving a problem or looking for the answer to some question. In school, math consists of lower level questions that require a lot of by-hand calculations. Problems seem simple and trivial compared to more challenging and rigorous problems in the real world. His answer to this problem is to have students use computers more for the computation aspect and to focus on posing the right questions, translating those questions into math problems, and verifying those results to their real world applications. His model for what math is and what it should be within our education system looks like this:

Cluver1Cluver2 Continue reading “Computers in Math Education” »

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How Failing to Meet My Goals Made Me Happier

At the beginning of this semester I set some goals for myself. The previous semester had been stressful, and I wanted to become a better, healthier, happier, more efficient version of myself. My goals included things like “be on campus and working 9-5 every day,” “close your laptop by 10 pm every night,” and “don’t do homework in bed – use a desk like a real human.”

Needless to say I failed to meet just about all of these goals – not just a handful of times, but pretty regularly. And yet I think I have succeeded in becoming a healthier and happier version of myself, just not in the ways I expected.

The biggest change in my emotional well-being came from really establishing friendships. I started making more time for friends and the activities that make me happy. I sometimes went to karaoke on a weeknight. I went to cookouts to take a break from endless homework on the weekends. Grad students are not robots. We need more than just fuel to be productive. Having fun times to look forward to (and reflect on) makes the hard work of being a grad student so much more bearable. Continue reading “How Failing to Meet My Goals Made Me Happier” »

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Tupper’s Self-Referential Formula

Thanks to Nelly Cheboi for bringing this formula, and all the accompanying links, to our attention.

In his humorous 2015 Numberphile video, Matt Parker discusses a remarkable formula by Jeff Tupper of the University of Toronto whose graph is the letters, numbers, and symbols in the formula itself.  More precisely, this formula:

eq.1(1)produces this graph:

Screenshot 2016-05-16 12.18.13

To find out how it’s done, check out Parker’s video, plus this background explanation and generalization by Shreevatsa R. You can use Tupper’s formula to plot your own name (or anything else you like) using this Python code provided by Kaito Einstein.

(image courtesy of Weisstein, Eric W. “Tupper’s Self-Referential Formula.” From MathWorld–A Wolfram Web Resource.


Posted in Math, Math Games | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Summer’s Here: Time to Organize All Those Papers!


Zotero is free open-source software to help you organize your research references across multiple platforms and devices. Image is in the public domain.

The start of summer is a great time to get organized: perhaps you finally have time to focus on something other than the next problem set, or perhaps you’re too burned out from finals to do anything else productive.  Back in the good old days of undergrad, mathematics was a mysterious substance that emanated from textbooks, whiteboards, the mouths of my classmates, and occasionally, Wikipedia. Now that I’m in graduate school, more and more of what I learn comes from journal articles, which can prove difficult to organize. When I wrote my undergraduate thesis, my papers were all printed copies stored in an accordion folder, but as a graduate student reading hundreds of articles, this system is hardly practical.  Luckily, there are several reference management programs that keep track of papers you’ve read and generate bibliographies for you.  After searching through many options last winter, I finally settled on Zotero, which I highly recommend (and no, I am not being paid to write this).

I chose Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] because of the following features: Continue reading “Summer’s Here: Time to Organize All Those Papers!” »

Posted in Advice, Grad student life, staying organized, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Hey There, Grad Student, You’re in Good Company – Part 2


Guest post by Tai-Danae Bradley, a second year PhD student at the CUNY Graduate Center and founder of

By Tai-Danae Bradley

Welcome to part 2 of our series where we’re taking a candid peek into the world of mathematical research. Last time we chatted about the often laborious process of doing math which, as we heard from Andrew Wiles, is much like stumbling in a dark room while searching for a light switch. The late William Thurston also described math in a similar fashion in his Math Overflow profile. Perhaps you’ve seen it? Here’s a screenshot: Continue reading “Hey There, Grad Student, You’re in Good Company — Part 2” »

Posted in Advice, Grad School, Uncategorized | 6 Comments