Archive for the ‘Mathematics’ Category

For Alan Turing

June 23, 2020

On the occasion of Alan Turing’s birthday today, this release from NPL:

1912 – 1954:  Alan Turing’s work was instrumental in placing NPL at the forefront of computer technology.

Turing had already achieved a great deal before he started work at NPL. While at King’s College, Cambridge, he earned a scholarship, Maths Tripos Part II Distinction, fellowship and Smith’s Prize, as well as writing his paper on Computable Numbers. He then moved on to Princeton University and earned his PhD in 1938, before moving back to Cambridge and starting work at the Government Code and Cryptography School in 1939, where he was an essential part of the work to break the German Enigma code.

After the war he moved to NPL in 1945, and produced his plans for the ACE computer in 1946. He worked at NPL on the ACE until he left (after being on leave to Cambridge) in 1948, not long after writing his Intelligent Machinery paper.

Two things here: the identity of NPL; and more on celebrations of Alan Turing.


In purple hexadecimal

March 4, 2020

The briefest of celebratory woofs for the 16th (= 10h-th) birthday of Opal Eleanor Armstrong Zwicky, today:



You are young, Opal Eleanor, the old man said,
And your hair colors wander astray,
And now if you stand on your head, just right,
You’ll be 91 starting today.




August 29, 2019

As we slide into a US holiday weekend — leading to Labor Day, the first Monday in September, this year on the 2nd — my birthday (on the 6th) looms as well. Coming up is a prime-th birthday, the 79th, an auspicious number to my mind, just one short of the 80th, which many view (like the similarly vigesimal 20th, 40th, and 60th) as a landmark birthday, in this case the gateway into old age. But for the moment I’m prime, baby.


Golden Meanies

July 12, 2018

On Sandra Boynton‘s Facebook page yesterday:

Today is Pet Photo Day, so here is a recent snapshot of my semi-domesticated Golden Meanie, Fibonacci.


Golden Meanie is a bit of complex language play, combining the mathematical term golden mean (aka golden ratio); a reference to the Blue Meanies of the animated film Yellow Submarine; and a reference to the amiable domestic dog breeds the golden retriever and the golden Labrador. Plus, the name of Boynton’s Golden Meanie, Fibonacci, is a reference to the Fibonacci sequence in mathematics, which is intimately related to the golden ratio.


Pi Day + 1

March 15, 2018

A late entry in the Pi Day sweepstakes: a Scott Hilburn cartoon from 2013:

Today’s the Ides of March and also Penis Festival in Japan, but neither of these fits the cartoon.


Pi Day 2018

March 14, 2018

March 14 — 3.14 — is Pi Day, a day to celebrate the irrational number 𝜋. The usual pun for Pi Day is as Pie Day — restaurants have specials on pies — or some play on the adjective irrational — but the Mental Floss site has gone further afield:



The Euclid pun again

March 7, 2018

Encountered by accident a few days ago, this 2010 book of mathematical entertainments for a general readership:

Yet another occurrence of what I’ve dubbed the Euclid pun, a major groaner that turns on “Here’s looking at you, kid”, a toast attributed to Humphrey Bogart’s Rick to Ingrid Bergman’s Ilsa in the movie Casablanca.


Two memic cartoons

March 4, 2018

For today: a Zippy playing on the Walk Into Bar joke format and a Bizarro that combines three cartoon memes: the Psychiatrist, Multiple Personality, and Batman:


(#2) For National Multiple Personality Day, March 5th

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)


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.