Here’s one that will you inspire to be a mathematician all over again!

Just *try* not to get excited about math. Enjoy!

*[ht: Fred Connington]*

3

Here’s one that will you inspire to be a mathematician all over again!

Just *try* not to get excited about math. Enjoy!

*[ht: Fred Connington]*

Maybe it’s old news to you, but I recently downloaded the **Mathematics Add-In for Word and One-Note** (download from Mircrosoft for free, right here). It works with Microsoft Office 2007 or later. It’s a super quick and easy installation–doesn’t require a reboot or anything. I was even able to install it at work on my locked-down limited-permissions account without needing administrative privileges.

I’m impressed with its ability to graph, do calculations, and manipulate algebraic expressions using its computer algebra system (CAS). It’s not as powerful as Mathematica or my TI-89, or even other free CAS like WolframAlpha or Geogebra (yes, Geogebra has a CAS now and it’s not beta!). But I like it because (A) my expectations were low and (B) it’s right inside Microsoft Word, and it’s nicely integrated into the new equation editor, which as you know, I love.

**Here’s some sample output in word format or pdf **(the image above is just the first little bit of this five-page document). All of the output in red is generated by the mathematics add-in package. In this document, I highlight some of it’s features and some of it’s flaws. The graphing capabilities aren’t very customizable. And the mathematics is a bit buggy sometimes.

All in all, despite its flaws, I highly recommend it! It’s really handy to have it right there in Word.

**The 87th Carnival of Mathematics has arrived!!** Here’s a simple computation for you:

*What is the sum of the squares of the first four prime numbers?*

That’s right, it’s

Good job. Now, onto the carnival. This is my first carnival, so hopefully I’ll do all these posts justice. We had lots of great submissions, so I encourage you to read through this with a fine-toothed comb. Enjoy!

**Here’s a post (rant) from Andrew Taylor regarding the coverage from the BBC and the Guardian on the Supermoon that occurred in March 2011**. NASA reports the moon as being 14% larger and 30% brighter, but Andrew disagrees. Go check out the post, and join the conversation.

**Have you ever heard someone abuse the phrase “exponentially better”?** I know I have. One incorrect usage occurs when someone makes the claim that something is “exponentially better” based on only two data points. Rebecka Peterson has some words for you here, if you’re the kind of person who says this!

**Frederick Koh submitted Problem 19: Mechanics of Two Separate Particles Projected Vertically From Different Heights** to the carnival. It’s a fun projectile motion question which would be appropriate for a Precalculus classroom (or Calculus). I like the problem, and I think my students would like it too.

**John D. Cook highlights a question you’ve probably heard before: Should you walk or run in the rain?** An active discussion is going on in the comments section. It’s been discussed in many other places too, including twice on Mythbusters. (I feel like I read an article in an MAA or NCTM magazine on this topic once, as well. Anyone remember that?)

**Murray Bourne submitted this awesome post about modeling fish stocks**. Murray says his post is an “attempt to make mathematical modeling a bit less scary than in most textbooks.” I think he achieves his goal in this thorough development of a mathematical model for sustainable fisheries (see the graph above for one of his later examples of a stable solution under lots of interesting constraints). If I taught differential equations, I would * absolutely* use his examples.

**Last week I highlighted this new physics blog, but I wanted to point you there again: Go check out Five Minute Physics!** A few more videos have been posted, and also a link to this great video about the physics of a dropping Slinky (see above).

**Mr. Gregg analyzes European football using the Poisson distribution** in his post, The Table Never Lies. I liked how much real world data he brought to the discussion. And I also liked that he admitted when his model worked and when it didn’t–he lets you in on his own mathematical thought process. As you read this post, you too will find yourself thinking out loud with Mr. Gregg.

**Card Colm has written this excellent post that will help you wrap your mind around the number of arrangements of cards in a deck**. It’s a simple high school-level topic, but he really puts it into perspective:

the number of possible ways to order or permute just the hearts is 13!=6,227,020,800. That’s about what the world population was in 2002. So back then if somebody could have made a list of all possible ways to arrange those 13 cards in a row, there would have been enough people on the planet for everyone to get one such permutation.

I think it’s good to remind ourselves that whenever we shuffle the deck, we can be almost certain that our arrangement has never been created before (since arrangements are possible). Wow!

**Alex is looking for “random” numbers by simply asking people**. Go contribute your own “random” number here. Can’t wait to see the results!

**Quick! Think of an example of a real-world bimodal distribution!** Maybe you have a ready example if you teach stat, but here’s a really nice example from Michael Lugo: *Book prices*. Before you read his post, you should make a guess as to why the book prices he looked at are bimodal (see histogram above).

**Mike Thayer just attended the NCTM conference in Philadelphia and brings us a thoughtful reaction in his post, The Learning of Mathematics in the 21st Century**. Mike wrote this post because he had been left with “an ambivalent feeling” after the conference. He wants to “engage others in mathematics education in discussions about ways to improve what we do outside of the frameworks that are being imposed on us by those outside of our field.” As a secondary educator, I agree with Mike completely and really enjoyed his post. Mike isn’t satisfied with where education is going. In his post, he writes, “We are leaping ahead into the unknown with new educational models, and we never took the time to get the old ones right.”

**Edmund Harriss asks Have we ever lost mathematics?** He gives a nice recap of foundational crises throughout the history of mathematics, and wonders, ultimately, if we’ve actually *lost *any mathematics. There’s also a short discussion in the comments section which I recommend to you.

**Peter Woit reflects on 25 Years of Topological Quantum Field Theory**. Maybe if you have degree in math and physics you might appreciate this post. It went over my head a bit, I’m afraid!

**In this post, Matt reviews a 2012 book release, Who’s #1, by Amy N. Langville and Carl D. Meyer**. The book discusses the ranking systems used by popular websites like Amazon or Netflix. His review is thorough and balanced–Matt has good things to say about the book, but also delivers a bit of criticism for their treatment of Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem. Thanks for this contribution, Matt! [edit: Thanks MATT!]

**Shecky R reviews of David Berlinski’s 2011 book, One, Two Three…Absolutely Elementary mathematics** in his Brief Berlinski Book Blurb. I’m not sure his review is an *endorsement*. It sounds like a book that only a small eclectic crowd will enjoy.

**Here’s a fun-loving post about Heptagrins, and all the crazy craft projects you can do with them**. Don’t know what a Heptagrin is? Neither did I. But go check out Jess Hawke’s post and she’ll tell you all about them!

**Any Lewis Carroll lovers out there?** Julia Collins submitted a post entitled “A Night in Wonderland” about a Lewis Carroll-themed night at the National Museum of Scotland. She writes, “Other people might be interested in the ideas we had and also hearing about what a snark is and why it’s still important.” When you check out this post, you’ll not only learn about snarks but also about creating projective planes with your sewing machine. Cool!

**Mike Croucher over at Walking Randomly gives a shout out to the free software Octave**, which is a MATLAB replacement. Check out his post, here. MATLAB is ridiculously expensive, and so the world needs an alternative like Octave. He provides links to the Kickstarter campaign–and Mike has backed the project himself. I too believe in Octave. I’ve used it a few times for my grad work and I’ve been very grateful for a free alternative to MATLAB.

Okay, that’s it for the 87th Carnival of Mathematics. Hope you enjoyed all the posts! Sorry it took me a couple days to post it–there was a lot to digest :-).

If you missed the previous carnival (#86), you can find it here. The next carnival (#88) will be hosted by Christian at checkmyworking.com. For a complete listing of all the carnivals, and more information & FAQ about the carnivals, follow this link.

Cheers!

As some of you know, I recently posted about Microsoft Equation Editor (here) and the way it’s been totally upgraded. I’ve been using Microsoft’s Equation Editor more and more, and I’ve learned a lot of new things, but I also still have questions (for instance, *how do you force it to do display or in-line mode?)*.

Before, when I had questions, it seemed like Microsoft had no answers. I searched their website and found minimal help. I found help from third-parties, like this wonderful cheat-sheet which I still highly recommend. But today when I went searching for some more answers, **I found this page on Microsoft’s website, which I swear wasn’t online two months ago**.

The most interesting thing is that they mention their use of **Unicode Nearly Plain-text Encoding of Mathematics** and they claim that the Microsoft Equation editor adheres to the standards set forth in Unicode Technical Note 28. I’ve now completely read this Unicode guide and it was very helpful.

**I think I can finally use the new Microsoft Equation Editor without ever leaving the keyboard.**

In particular, here are a few things I learned how to do. Hopefully this will save you the time of having to read through it all yourself:

To start with, here are a handful of things I didn’t know how to do without visiting the toolbar. Now I can do them just by typing.

Boxed formula: **\rect(a/b)** produces

Matrix: **(\matrix(a&b@&c&d))** produces

Radicals: **\sqrt(5&a^2) ** produces

Equation arrays are something I found hard to do in Microsoft Equation Editor. In their documentation, I learned you can type “Shift+Enter” to keep the next line as part of the same equation array. But here’s the more finely-grained method:

**\eqarray(x+1&=2@1+2+3+y&=z@3/x&=6)**

resolves to this:

A more complicated example of alignment, and a description of how it is interpreted comes from the Unicode page:

3.19 Equation Arrays

To align one equation relative to another vertically, one can use an equation array, such aswhich has the linear format █(10&x+&3&y=2@3&x+&13&y=4), where █ is U+2588. Here the meaning of the ampersands alternate between align and spacer, with an implied spacer at the start of the line. So every odd & is an alignment point and every even & is a place where space may be added to align the equations. This convention is used in AmSTeX.

Instead of █, one can type \eqarray in Microsoft office. Also, to include a numbered equation is simple: E=mc^2#(30).

Another nice thing I learned is how to quickly include text in your equations, without having to visit the toolbar (in retrospect, it’s somewhat obvious):

** “rate”=”distance”/”time”**

resolves to

Like I said, one unresolved issue I still have is how to *force *math to be displayed in ‘in-line’ or ‘display’ mode. This is very easy in with the use of $ or $$. Section 3.20 of the Unicode notes isn’t very satisfying:

Note that although there’s no way to specify display versus inline modes (TeX ‘s $ versus $$), a useful convention for systems that mark math zones is that a paragraph a paragraph consisting of a math zone is in display mode. If any part of the paragraph isn’t in a math zone including a possible terminating period, then inline rendering is used.

So there you have it–more of what I’ve learned about the Microsoft Equation Editor. Please do share if you have other useful information.

I’ve been enjoying following this youtube channel about math, LaTeX, and juggling. It’s authored by an acquaintance of mine (Joe) that I know from the juggling community, actually. Here’s one Joe posted this week that I particularly liked:

Wasn’t sure if this had made its way around the math blogging community yet. It’s awesome!

And yes, it really does work. There’s a great discussion about it, including lots of different renderings from various math software at math.stackexchange.com.

I love this discussion at squareCircleZ. All my readers should check it out. Which is the graph of arccot(x)?

I especially like this controversy because some big players have weighed in on each side. Mathcad and Maple prefer the first interpretation, Mathematica and Matlab prefer the second.

For a more thorough treatment, check out the original post here. Three cheers for great math blogging! 🙂

I’d love to streamline the attendance/homework checking/gradebook procedures. It always seems pointless to me to have to write down homework grades and attendance, then reenter it on the computer. Some of today’s teachers are already using smart-phone applications for such tasks.

From an article on NEA.org by Tim Walker,

It was only a few years ago that cell phones were being banished from classrooms. As far as school districts were concerned, these devices’ reputation as tools for student distraction, mischief, and even harassment easily outweighed any possible benefits in the learning process.

Banning them was—and, in many districts, still is—the easy call to make, but as cell phones have become more sophisticated, powerful, and even more entrenched in students’ daily lives, a growing number of schools have decided to open the door to what are, essentially, mobile computers.

“Educators can’t afford to be behind the 8-ball anymore,” says Mike Pennington, who teaches world history at Chardon Middle School in Chardon, Ohio, and blogs about classroom technology at Teachers for Tomorrow, a website he co-founded with colleague Garth Holman. “Schools need to embrace mobile technology and mobile learning. Students live in this world. These devices belong in the classroom.”

According to some estimates, smart phones, and to a lesser extent tablets like the iPad, will be in the hands of every student in the United States within five years. And as more schools embrace mobile learning, the number of education apps—mobile applications that run on your smart phone—are skyrocketing.

The article goes on to mention a handful of apps that have classroom potential, including the one above, GradePad. I also liked the looks of Attendance. And one of the commenters mentions that similar apps are available for Android users as well (here). This is all very cool, in my opinion.

In fact, I have a dream…

*I can imagine a time in the not-to-distant future when I walk around the room at the beginning of the period checking homework and taking attendance from a mobile device. I’d be able to see the seating chart, do random name calling, see student photos, and control my computer. If students were issued similar devices, I could have them post their work on the board, using their mobile device as a slate to operate the front board. And students would use their devices as calculators and text books as well, perhaps. All my grades, attendance data, student data, and seating charts would be synced with the network and with our online grade reporting system.*

We have Promethean (“smart”) boards in the front of our classrooms, and that’s been nice. But I think having mobile devices in the classroom would be far more advantageous, revolutionizing the way we teach more than smart boards ever did.

**Most of what I’ve said is already technically possible**–the hardware already exists. One hurdle will be cost, of course. But the cost could be significantly offset if there was no need to purchase hard-cover textbooks (very expensive) or smart boards (also very expensive). Another hurdle will be getting networks, software, and network administrators to cooperate. For instance, our district uses multiple vendors and some of our key data systems aren’t linked, like they should be. Allowing mobile devices to connect to the school network and the internet, providing district-approved & purchased software, and syncing the whole system with existing data systems would be a sizable task.

Three cheers for the future! 🙂