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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chris Finlay's Blog

Chris Finlay has more degrees than blogs but here is his blog:

I owe Chris a Thank You. He knows why.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A beautiful ( Norwegian ) theorem

#mathematics# #norway#

Every abelian group is the direct product of its Sylow subgroups.

Perhaps it is not the theorem in itself I like so much but what this theorem illustrates about the nature of mathematics. Most laymen think of mathematics as the scribbles of physicists they see in science documentaries, i.e. partial differential equations, stuff they call 'formulas'. So in that sense the theorem above may not even be recognized as mathematics, let alone beautiful mathematics.

Mathematics starts with a very precise, razor blade sharp, use of the tool that differentiates us humans from the rest of nature: language. Einstein once said “If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.” (*). He must have meant the "root of your knowledge tree", I suppose. Because the beauty of the theorem lies in what it represents: a large graph of concepts with - ( abelian ) group, direct product and ( Sylow ) subgroup - in the center. To anyone 'owning' these concepts the particular relation between an abelian group and its Sylow subgroups can be described in one sentence with no room whatsoever for misinterpretation. The construction of all that knowledge is the collective work of thousands and thousands of mathematicians before us.

(*) The simplest way to explain a group is ( as far as I know ) "A collection of movements with no visible effects ( = symmetries )".


Both Abel and Sylow were Norwegians. So was Lie, another giant, a special branch in group theory is named after him: Lie Group Theory. It is amazing that a small country like Norway ( measured in population ) can have such an impact.

Friday, July 6, 2012

355 / 113

355 / 113 = 3.141592.....

How would you -prove- that this is the best approximation of pi using only integers less than 1000 ? We can use a 'By Cases' / Brute Force approach and utilize a computer to go through all the possible quotients. Even going through a million of them is a piece of cake nowadays. I wonder if there is a computer-free approach. - Even with a computer its an interesting problem. I.e. what's the shortest program to prove it. The fastest? Go visit Project Euler and you'll be amazed what clever programmers can do in their favorite language. Even if, or especially if, you are a programmer yourself. Amaze yourself. Or take the challenge...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


I came across a free tool for visualizing Coxeter polytopes, jenn3d. I suppose this program visualizes the Coxeter groups of polytopes. Polytopes are geometric objects in the n-th dimension with flat sides.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Higgs Boson Buzz

It's buzzing in the media, on Twitter, everywhere. It will be announced tomorrow. The God Particle. It exists after all...

Here is a great animation about how the Higgs Boson particle works.


I just discovered a new ( free, open source ) tool for graphs and networks. What Photoshop is for pictures, Gephi ( supposedly ) is for graphs. Software is definitely a requirement for Graph Theory. I haven't looked at Gephi in-depth yet, I might. It is exciting though. There is so much going on. When you turn away from a certain area for just a brief period things might have changed quite a lot when you get back. I 'worked with' ( read: used to study graph theory ) Mathematica with the Combinatorica package which is really a gem by itself.

Link: Gephi

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Welcome to The Bridge

Mathematics: is it the fabric of MEST?
This is my voyage
My continuous mission
To uncover hidden structures
To create new theorems and proofs
To boldly go where no man has gone before

(Raumpatrouille – Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion, colloquially aka Raumpatrouille Orion was the first German science fiction television series. Its seven episodes were broadcast by ARD beginning September 17, 1966. The series has since acquired cult status in Germany. Broadcast six years before Star Trek first aired in West Germany (in 1972), it became a huge success.)