Americans don’t understand numbers—especially when those numbers are fractions. You may know the true story about Arby’s customers who were convinced that a new ⅓-pound burgers contained less meat than the familiar ¼-pounder, since 4 is larger than 3. Maybe… Read More ›

# Math

## Making math relevant?

Good rhetorical question from SMBC: “Do kids ever look up from Minecraft or Pokemon cards or a Harry Potter book and say ‘This is boring because it’s not relevant to real life’?” And yet that’s exactly what too many kids… Read More ›

##
*Fantastic ______s and Where to Find Them*

This book reminds me of the caller who asked the Magliozzi brothers a question about his Volkswagen Quantum: he couldn’t get it repaired because he didn’t know any Quantum mechanics. What’s the connection? Well, first you need to know what… Read More ›

## “Dear parents of math geniuses…,” writes Tanya Khovanova

As a teacher, would you prefer hearing from Parent A or Parent B? Parent A: “My ten-year-old finished her calculus course: here is her picture to post on your blog.” Parent B: “My daughter can’t do math, but I told… Read More ›

## Math anxiety

When people find out that I’m a math teacher, the most common response among adults over 30 is “I was never any good at math.” An excellent short article in the Harvard Gazette recently explained what’s going on here. The… Read More ›

## The solution to that Estonian puzzle

And here is the full solution to the puzzle about telling time in Estonian. First the answers, in case you want to check your answers before following the link to the full solution: Challenge 1a. 9:25b. 11:45c. 2:30d. 3:15e. 6:35… Read More ›

## How to tell time (in Estonian, of course)

Alex Bellos, on Atlas Obscura, has written a fine linguistics/math puzzle about telling time in Estonian. No knowledge of Estonian is required (in fact, it would spoil the puzzle), nor is any advanced knowledge of math or linguistics expected. Here… Read More ›

## Linguistics/math interface

People keep wondering how I journeyed from linguistics to math. Maybe they’re the same thing:

## Gender issues: a perspective from a Russian Jewish mathematician

“My mom used to tell me that most men do not like brainy women,” writes well-known mathematician Tanya Khovanova. Well-known in certain circles, anyway. Female, Russian-American, Jewish—there are a lot of possible identity issues here. I’ve written about Khovanova twice… Read More ›

## Wordle, Wheel of Fortune, Jotto, & the Mathematics of Information Theory

Apparently I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t play Wordle. I’m not entirely sure why I don’t, but I can think of a couple of possibilities: it’s far too competitive, it’s far too rigid, and it’s far too… Read More ›