Posted 20 hours ago

Humble Pi: A Comedy of Maths Errors

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The book is never overly technical--just enough mathematics or engineering background is introduced, to allow an understanding of each episode in the book. When you set up a new database, or a way to input data, it’s good practice to test it and make sure it’s all working.

Obviously, we should do whatever we can to avoid engineering mistakes, but when engineers are pushing the boundaries of what is possible, occasionally a new aspect of mathematical behaviour will unexpectedly emerge. The book shares other mathematical situations where innovation outpaced the math calculations and tragedy occurred. In 2017 it was reported that if the US switched all of its coal power production to be solar power it would save 51,999 lives every year, an oddly specific number. He realized it would mean there could be a shuttle launch every day for three hundred years with only one disaster.I’ve actually a negative interest in sport, zero being far too large a number to fully encompass my boredom – but I find it remarkable that people are so much more likely to give up on things that are really worthwhile, but would ‘never say die’ for shit that doesn't matter at all. He put forward the Swiss Cheese model of disasters, which looks at the whole system, instead of focusing on individual people. I found it best to read with the internet handy, so I could zip on and find out more whenever it interested me. But at least now I have a framed letter from the UK government saying that they don’t think accurate maths is important and they don’t believe street signs should have to follow the laws of geometry.

You can get upset about these things, but 2-d representations of 3-d phenomena are, well, you know, 2-d. It’s not often sunny in London, but when a sun-filled day in summer 2013 lined up with the recently completed windows, a death heat-ray swept across London.The first entry is from a Ms Teacher who works at Test High School on Test Road in the county of Fakenham. One in a million people will unknowingly live exactly a whole number of kilometres (door to door) from work, accurate to the nearest millimetre. However, this is an excellent read, managing to be light and meaty at the same time, and highly recommended for anyone interested in maths, business or computing. You know the sort of thing: makes excellent airplane reading except for the number of stories involving airplane crashes.

So seriously, even if your knee-jerk reaction is to recoil in horror from the thought of reading a math book, try it anyway. Two programmers in a New York firm increased the tax withheld on all company pay cheques by two cents each week but sent the money to their own tax-withholding accounts so they received it all as a tax refund at the end of the year. But if you are a parent, please don’t give your child a first name which will set them up for a lifetime of battling computers.We probably can’t make sure of that, ultimately, but setting that as your life’s goal is a worthwhile thing to do. I was thinking some of my maths teacher friends might enjoy it and find it useful for illustrations in class.

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