A blog on complex systems, and by extension, life.
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Does mathematics carry human biases?

This week, a conversation flared up on Twitter on whether mathematics can carry human biases, and what such a possibility could even mean. The spark was a statement by the Committee on Minority Participation in Mathematics of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), responding to actions the Trump administration has taken to disparage and de-fund...

Mon Oct 5, 2020 21:32
How do we mourn human civilization?

2019 was a lot of things. But for what I want to say here, 2019 was the year that I realized we might not save ourselves. Just on its face, 2019 was a terrible year if you care about climate change. Arctic permafrost may have reached a tipping point. Antarctic ice melted at record pace. The Amazon burned. Meanwhile, carbon emissions continued to rise,...

Wed Jan 1, 2020 19:16
Andi's Factor Game

Two weeks ago, my friend Andi messaged me about a mathematical game she had invented.  She was so excited to share it.  She had coded up a "proof of concept" version in html, and had come up with a mathematical proof about its winning strategies.  She was enthusiastic about its potential to make math fun even for non-math people, and full of ideas for...

Tue Jun 25, 2019 18:33
You can win the Electoral College with 22% of the vote

Donald Trump is poised to become the next US president, despite the fact that Hillary Clinton received over a million more votes than him (and counting). This would mark the second time in sixteen years, and either the fourth or fifth time in history (depending on how you count) that the Electoral College winner has lost the popular vote. How is...

Fri Nov 18, 2016 22:29
Information and Structure in Complex Systems

Eight years ago, I had finished my first year of graduate school in math, and I was at a loss as to what to research.  My original focus, differential geometry, was a beautiful subject to learn about, but the open research questions were too abstract and technical to sustain my interest.  I wanted something more relevant to the real world, something...

Fri Oct 24, 2014 22:46
The time the cops pulled their guns on me

This post is not about science. I'm writing this because the horrific news out of Ferguson, Missouri—the killing of an unarmed man and the subsequent assault on the populace and media—has been bringing back memories an experience I had with the police ten years ago in Chicago. I should be clear about why I'm choosing to share this. It's not because...

Sun Aug 17, 2014 20:00

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