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Maths Jam 2017 talks summaries

November 19, 2017

Here is a brief summary of individual talks from the Maths Jam annual conference. Thanks to Rob Lowe for writing the bulk of this and allowing me to share it.

There is a write up on its way from Maths Jam themselves and also this one from Chalkdust.

Colin Beveridge and I discuss it and have various guests comment on Wrong but Useful episode 50.

Saturday – Session 1a: 14:00 – 14:47

· Colin Wright, Matt Parker and Katie Steckles: Welcome to the MathsJam Gathering

Pretty much “what it says on the tin”

· Tom Button: All about the base (no trebles)

Using base 10 to prove a neat result about primes. (OK, that’s 10 in duodecimal.) Introduced the concepts of Threven for numbers in the three times tables.

· Matt Peperell: Logical deduction games

Introducing games where the aim of the game is to work out the rules. Sounds like a lot of fun and something I’ll be looking into more!

· Alison Kiddle: Alison talks crap

Alison presents and interprets the results of a fundamental poll: in fact, many fundaments were involved. Correlating number of sheets of toilet paper used with the Bristol stool scale. Used a linear correlation and log one too.

· TD Dang: The maths in Mean Girls

When is a limit not a limit? There’s no end to the possibilities. Looked at the mathlete’s activities in the film.

· Noel-Ann Bradshaw: Digesting the indigestible

On the importance of presenting data well and informatively. Wondering about the best way of presenting information about students to busy teachers.

Session 1b: 15:10 – 15:57

· Zoe Griffiths: A discourse on e

A heartfelt narration of the relationship between e and their x. You can listen to this on episode 50 of Wrong, but Useful.

· Phil Chaffe: Maths Jammin’ – Writing a song for the Maths Jam Jam

Hints and tips on how to write a song for maths jam. Essentially, a whole lot can be forgiven if there’s a really good line!

· Matthew Scroggs: Big Ben Strikes Again

How can you hear Big Ben strike 13? Why does Scroggs like Captain Scarlet so much?

· Andrew Russell: Diabolo as a picture

The title was an outright lie. Instead, he explained why balloon animals were semi-Eulerian graphs, and provided a counter-example. This was a talk that appealed to my inner clown.

· Angela Brett: Mathematical poetry

In which were reminded that it isn’t just giants whose shoulders we stand on. Available on Etsy here.

· Adam Townsend: Stop! (or, using maths to pass your driving test)

Where did those weird stopping distances come from? Are they even correct? (no) What should they be?

· Elizabeth and Zeke: rat with an e

What is 3^(1/ln 3)? More to the point, why?

Session 1c: 16:20 – 17:07

· Rob Eastaway: Thinking Outside the Outside of the Box

On drawing lines through all the dots in a grid: how far can you go? The classic puzzle of 9 dots in a 3-by-3 array. Can you join them with 4 straight lines? What about if it’s a 4-by-4 array with 6 lines? How far ‘outside the box’ can you go?

· Rachel Wright: In A Spin

Between sheep’s back and your back, the wool undergoes various transformations. Some of it’s a bit confusing.

· Alex Burlton: Bags of Palindromes

What are the chances of getting palindromes out of bags of numbers?

· Alexander Bolton: Winning the Chalkdust Coin Game

Why it’s a good idea not to have too similar a name to any of your peers, and why it’s a good idea to take a risk if you think you’re going to lose.

· Vincent Van Pelt: Thank you, Mrs Holcombe

Homophones. And, by a happy accident, an introduction to mediaeval French poetry.

Session 1d: 17:30 – 18:17

· Dan Hagon: Double Negation and the Excluded Middle

Some people aren’t happy with ¬¬P=P. Dan gives a constructive explanation of how logic works – or ought to.

· Ben Pace: Building Successful Intellectual Communities

Working towards a way of ranking web pages by reliability, using the Page rank algorithm (named after Larry Page and not because it ranks pages) and karma.

· Alison Clarke: Stupid Units

Pressure in mmHg? Volume in Acrefeet? Temperature in Fahrenheit? What were they thinking?

· Belgin Seymenoglu: Donald in Mathmagic Land

Half a century ago, Donad Duck starred in a cartoon introducing some mathsy fun.

· Douglas Buchanan: Lowering the Tone

Puzzles. I nearly fell of my perch at the resolution of the parrot puzzle. Possible the worst pun of the weekend, and there was no lack of competition.

· David Mitchell: The Thereom of Trythagoras (Pythagoras is for Squares)

Extending Pythagorean triples in triangular ways.

· Dave Gale: Catchphrase and Coffee

What do the ‘strength’ indicators on ground coffee mean? Why do some go from 3 to 7?Also, an (as yet) unsuccessful attempt to get the host of Catchphrase to stop calling rectangles “squares”.

Sunday – Session 2a: 08:50 – 09:37

· Joel Haddley: Angle Trisection

What are the rules? What counts as a trisection?

· Katie Steckles: Sheeran Numbers

What numbers can you make using (all) the operators used as titles of Ed Sheeran albums, and numbers used as titles of albums released during Ed Sheeran’s lifetime.

· Ken McKelvie: A little ado about ‘nothing’

Looking at where zeros occur in decimal expansions of certain numbers.

· Tony Mann: The mathematics of competition

Where on the beach should you put your ice cream van to maximize profit?

· Will Kirkby: Life Beyond Binary

Generalizing cellular automata, and some very pretty pictures.

· Peter Rowlett: Fermi problems

The kinds of estimating you have to do (in ‘real’ life), and the Approximate Geometric Mean as a useful tool crying out for a better understanding.

· Kathryn Taylor: Adventures in modular origami

How to make wonderful models, and why not to take them on the train.

Session 2b: 10:00 – 10:47

· Marcin Konowalczyk: Unrolling the rolling shutter

Trying to train a neural net to recover the original image. The dangers involved in choosing the training data.

· Miles Gould: How Mountaineering is like Mathematics

In every possible respect, it turns out. You can watch a video of the talk here.

· Samuel Ball: Fake It Till You Make It

Markov processes for constructing tweets. Also, helping people learn to code.

· Wendy Foad: Context vs content

Transferable skills?

· Nicholas Korpelainen: A production line may need an arbitrarily large number of machines

Satisfying constraints is sometimes hard.

· Robert Woolley: Making board games fit – Numbers & Space

How to fit several board games into one box. Clever use of the space available on playing cards.

Session 2c: 11:15 – 11:48

· Glen Whitney: The Hole Truth

Holes in a handlebody, Euler characteristic, and why a topologist is somebody who can’t tell a steering wheel from a T-shirt.

· Sue de Pomerai: The life and times of Ada Lovelace

The briefest of introductions: and a class in delivering a one hour talk in four minutes. Sue will hopefully be appearing in Wrong, but Useful episode 51.

· Pedro Freitas: A programmed deck

Programming a deck of cards to solve simultaneous equations.

· Matthew and John Bibby: Boring log and geometrical tables

A father and son team show us where woodwork and seaside rock meet mathematics.

· Geoff Morley: Irrational Bases

Looking at some of the richness of the behaviour when an irrational number is used as a base instead of an integer.

· Adam Atkinson: Mathematics and Art: A Real-World Problem

On the challenges facing a sculptor who wants to put a statue on top of the nearby mountain for residents of Catania to enjoy.

Session 2d: 12:06 – 12:39

· Elaine Smith & Lynda Goldenberg: Multiplication: Magic or Madness

Multiplication methods, and the ‘new’ grid method is several centuries older than the ‘traditional’ column method. Also Napier’s bones.

· Robert W. Vallin: Maverick Solitaire and Three-Card Poker

Probability inspired by an episode of Maverick.

· Robert Low: Why knot?

What do you mean, I can’t tie a knot in a piece of string without letting go of the ends? You’re not the boss of me!

· Philipp Reinhard: From a tweet to Langnaus 4th problem in < 5min

How to get from a relatively innocuous looking puzzle to some really deep stuff in a few steps.

· Oliver Masters: The Fibonacci Matrix

Coding the Fibonacci sequence in powers of a matrix, and some surprises arising.

Whew – that’s all there was. Just a mere 49 talks!

Thanks again to Rob for the comments. I’ll expand on some of the talks in future posts.

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