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IntMath Newsletter: Interactive 3D graph, Polymath

By Murray Bourne, 19 Apr 2016

19 Apr 2016

In this Newsletter:

1. New 3D interactive graph
2. Over 70 interactives
3. Roller door problem and Polymath software
4. Math in the news
5. Math puzzles
6. Math movie: Math symbols in ancient rock art?
7. Final thought: Mathematical habits of mind

1. New 3D interactive graph

3D interactive graph applet - background

I recently added a simple 3D interactive graph which allows you to explore the x-, y- and z-axis system. Here's some background (which includes a discussion about the "correct" orientation for the axes in a 3D graph):

New 3D interactive graph

2. Now over 70 interactives!

Math applets on IntMath

There are now over 70 interactive math applets (most of them mobile-friendly) on IntMath.

I recently updated the full list, which you can find here:

Math Interactive Applets

3. Roller door problem and Polymath software

Polymath roller door problem

Here's a numerical solution to an earlier problem we discussed involving the height of a roller door given the number of turns the door makes.

Roller door problem and Polymath software

4. Math in the News

(a) Andrew Wiles receives Abel Award for solving Fermat's Last Theorem

Andrew Wiles wins Abel Prize

Sir Andrew Wiles solved Fermat's Last Theorem in 1994. He proved there are no integer solutions for n ≥ 3 in the equation xn + yn = zn.

Wiles was recently awarded the Abel Prize "for his stunning proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem by way of the modularity conjecture for semistable elliptic curves, opening a new era in number theory".

His prize money is equivalent to $850,000 (USD).

Last year's joint winners for the Abel Prize were John F. Nash Jr. (who was the subject of the movie A Beautiful Mind) & Louis Nirenberg.

(b) Math Awareness Month: Making Predictions

Making Predictions - Math Awareness Month

April is Math Awareness Month, and the theme this year is "Making Predictions".

It's a good theme, and one that we should encourage more in mathematics courses. Making predictions requires mathematical modelling which is an incredibly important concept, but is rarely taught in schools.

The articles on the past, present and future of prediction and the central position of mathematics and statistics are quite interesting.

5. Math puzzles

The puzzle in the last IntMath Newsletter asked about a journey by two girls involving a bicycle and/or walking.

Correct answers with sufficient explanation were given by: Chris and Hamid. There was certainly an interesting assortment of solutions for this one!

New math puzzle

Egyptian fractions

The Egyptians used unit fractions, where the numerator was always 1.

They would need to write their ratios as the sum (not difference) of unique unit fractions, like this:


Using this system, how would they have written \frac{11}{13}?

You can leave your responses here.

6. Math movie: Geometric shapes in ancient rock art paintings

rock art

Ancient rock art may give clues to the origin of written symbols, including early math notation.

Geometric shapes in ancient rock art paintings

7. Final thought: Mathematical habits of mind

In the article Mathematical Habits of Mind, Cindy Bryant discusses the importance of developing sound strategies for solving math problems. Expert problem solvers don't panic when they come across an unfamiliar problem. They will use one or more of the following strategies (based on Polya''s four-step problem solving process) until something "clicks":

Draw a picture
Find a pattern
Make a list
Make a table
Solve a simpler problem
Guess and check
Act out the problem
Work backwards
Write an equation

Until next time, enjoy whatever you learn.

Image credits for this Newsletter:

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