Archive for the ‘Mathematics’ Category

Operator symbols

December 27, 2017

From Kim Darnell on Facebook:

Surely I am not the first comic geek to study linear algebra who looked at the symbol for direct sums [see here] and thought, “That’s just the symbol for the X-Men rotated 45 degrees.”

This, of course, makes me wonder what superpowers the mutant known as Direct Sum would have.

There are, in fact, Unicode symbols for “circled plus” (used for the Direct Sum operator) and also “circled times” (though I’m not clear on what operator the latter is used for):

⊕ ⊗ vs. + ×


Puns and portmanteaus, polar bears and hippos

November 1, 2017

Or: zoology, geometry, geography, and medicine. In three visual + verbal jokes that have been floating around the internet. Starting, A, with a punning coordinate bears composition — playing geometrically with polar bear — that came to me from Mike Reaser (who got it from an aggregation source), and a buildup to a portmantriple, C, that came to me from Kim Darnell (who got it from the Exploding Fish Shitposting and Senseless Drivel, Inc. Facebook page) — a combo of geometry, medicine, and animals (hippos rather than polar bears). The first led to more geometric play, B, on polar bear, taking us into medical (specifically psychiatric) territory. And then, bonus, there’s some simple geographic play, D, with polar bear.


Guest morning name: Venn

April 11, 2017

A morning name contributed by John Wells:


Says John,

Venn St in Clapham [district of London], commemorating two bearers of the surname: the campaigner against the slave trade, and the inventor of Venn diagrams. Who knew they were related?


Bizarro pi(e)

March 14, 2017

For Pi Day, 3/14, from Chris Hansen, this 2005 Bizarro:

Not only the pi connection, but also a Dan Piraro piece of pie.


February 19, 2017

… the plant, viewable locally in planters outside two office buildings, one a block north and one a block west of where I live. They thrive there; they are tough plants, aggressive even — they are invasive pest plants in South Africa and Australia — though they suffer some from vandals who manage to break their stems off. The local species, Equisetum hyemale, in a big stand:


More number fun

August 12, 2016

(No linguistics that I can see.)

A follow-up to my posting on Collatz sequences, picking up an open question in one-symbol Smullyan systems, from an obscure 1970 paper by Stephen Isard and me.


Collatz days

August 11, 2016

Every so often, things coincide. In the last couple of days, Jeff Shaumeyer relayed on Facebook an 8/9 posting on Jason Kottke’s blog with a delightful video about the Collatz Conjecture, and then a day later I got a phone call from Greg Huber at UC Santa Barbara about this very same conjecture in number theory and its possible connection to a paper Steve Isard and I wrote 46 years ago (in previous lives) on “one-symbol Smullyan systems”. And there’s an xkcd:

(#710 from 3/5/10)


Anti-spam architect (plus a mathemagician)

May 21, 2016

The anti-spam architect would be Elizabeth Zwicky in a “Yahoo Women in Technology Profile” by Michael McGovern (Talent Community Manager at Yahoo!) on the 18th. The piece is in the form of an interview, but with questions submitted in writing by McGovern and answers written out by EDZ, so you get the full flavor of her writing — lucid, pointed, often wry. There are photos: one of EDZ with her team, one an unposed head shot of her which catches her nicely. It’s a bit too light, a consequence of the fact that the photographer (Opal Eleanor Armstrong Zwicky, then age 6) was a novice at the camera, though she already had a good eye):



Graphic novel: Logicomix

April 24, 2016

One more comics-related posting for the day, but no gay connection this time:

Apostolos Doxiadis & Christos H. Papadimitridou (art by Alecos Papadatos, color by Annie Di Donna). Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth (2009)


xkcd on science and math

March 16, 2015

(Only marginally related to linguistics.)

Two xkcd cartoons from the world of science (the fundamental forces of physics) and math/computer science (NP-complete problems):