Apr

4

Steven Strogatz has a great column in today's NYT (looks like the first in a series) about the foundations and intuition of calculus.

Bruno Ombreux writes:

In the same vein, I read a nice book about the history of mathematics: Taming the Infinite. The link is to the hardcover edition, because it is such a beautiful book that it is better to buy it in hardcover.

I think it would be great if mathematics were taught together with their history. Before introducing a subject, the teacher would first explain the real world questions that led to its discovery, and talk about the people behind it. Some mathematicians led very interesting lives! This way, some maths would stop looking like they were pulled out of a hat and the kids would get interested.

Pitt T. Maner III notes:

Note that Strogatz has received good reviews for his book The Calculus of Friendship. Interview with Alan Alda may be of interest too (aside–Alda should play Dr. Feynman in a movie before he gets too old, he has done it on stage in QED, it's an amazing resemblance especially his voice pattern).Dr. Strogatz discusses how his wonderful high school teacher reversed the roles and inspired him to "teach the teacher". The reverance and sincere praise for higher learning was an inspiration. Interesting overlap of life, emotions, and cold, hard math.

Strogatz discusses "balance theory" in a recent paper and wondered if it might have market implications? The plus and minus sign usage somewhat like Chair's. It also mentions Markov processes and different states:

The shifting of alliances and rivalries in a social group can be viewed as arising from an energy minimization process. For example, suppose you have two friends who happen to detest each other. The resulting awkwardness often resolves itself in one of two ways: either you drop one of your friends, or they find a way to reconcile. In such scenarios, the overall social stress corresponds to a kind of energy that relaxes over time as relationships switch from hostility to friendship or vice versa. This view, now known as balance theory, was first articulated by Heider [ fields ranging from anthropology to political science [1,2] and has since been applied in3,4].


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