Al Jabr = Algebra

The word algebra comes from kitab wa al jabr wa al muqabalah.  This means “The Book of Shifting and Balancing” and is Al-Khwarizmi’s work describing six types of quadratic equations and their solutions.  He systematically collected and solved these problems in an algebraic manner, shifting terms from one side to the other and balancing terms […]

Goodwill Hunting: The Real Story

The movie Goodwill Hunting (starring Matt Damon, Robin Williams, and Ben Affleck) is based on the real-life story of George Dantzig.  Dantzig was taking a class at Berkeley with Jerzy Neyman, when he arrived late one day.  There were two problems on the board, which Dantzig quickly wrote down, thinking that they were homework.  He […]

Hypatia: The First Lady of Mathematics

The first noted female mathematician is Hypatia, who was born close to 355 A.D.  She was a very independent woman, wearing the clothes of a scholar and driving her own chariot.  She is well known for her mathematical work and her teachings, all of which survived well because they are explained in ways that are […]

Finite Area and Infinite Perimeter

It is possible to have an object with the properties of finite area and infinite perimeter.  In this object, the sides enclose a finite region but the sides are made up of infinite pieces. Check out the Koch snowflake.  It starts with an equilateral triangle.  Then, on the first iteration, each side is broken so […]

A Different Angle

We learn in school that the measures of the interior angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees.  Did you know that triangles on surfaces other than planes can have different sums?  The interior angles of a triangle on a sphere add up to more than 180 degrees, and the interior angles of a […]

You Could Be the Next Winner!

Are you interested in a chance to win a cool $1 million?  Well, you could try playing the lottery, but the probability of you winning that is best saved for a whole other post.  Another way that you could take a shot at winning is by solving one of the seven Millennium Prize Problems.  The list […]

111111111×111111111

Why do so many people enjoy mathematics?  Is it because they like talking in some other language and sounding like an alien?  No, it’s because they like to solve puzzles and discover patterns.  Here is one fun pattern to ponder for today. 1 x 1 = 1 11 x 11 = 121 111 x 111 […]