Author Archives: JBL

“Dialogues on mathematics” by Alfred Renyi

For various reasons I have recently been reading a bunch of books broadly addressing the theme “what is mathematics?”  (Linderholm was accidentally a lead-in, and clearly belongs in the category.)  This one is a short (under 100 pages) and snappy read, … Continue reading

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“Mathematics Made Difficult” by Carl E. Linderholm

I have seen attributed to Halmos (Linderholm’s advisor) the description of this book as an in-joke to the mathematical community, and that’s about right: I don’t think it would be possible to explain why it’s funny to someone who doesn’t … Continue reading

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“The Table Comes First” by Adam Gopnik

In the preface, Gopnik writes, “We shouldn’t intellectualize food,” and on that count I think the book is a failure; as a result, some chapters are something of a slog. But others are wonderful.  (They vary quite a lot in … Continue reading

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West Virginia teacher strike

So, West Virginia teachers (some of whom are unionized, but whose unions are not recognized by the state) have been on strike for a week, continuing even after their union leadership struck a deal with the governor.  (The strikers fear, … Continue reading

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“Modular Origami Polyhedra” by Lewis Simon, Bennett Arnstein, and Rona Gurkewitz

Haven’t had an origami post in a while!  This book was as Christmas gift.  It consists of an assortment of instructions for modular origami: about ten different versions of the Sonobe unit, a variety of cube-based units they call the … Continue reading

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“Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande

Gawande is a wonderful writer who does a good job moving back and forth between the clinical and personal/anecdotal parts of his story.  This could be a bit formulaic, but one of his case-studies is his own father and I … Continue reading

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Coincidences among small groups

I like to study reflection groups of various kinds.  Let Sn denote the group of permutations of n points, let GL(n, q) denote the general linear group of invertible linear transformations of an n-dimensional vector space over the finite field with … Continue reading

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