The year was 1943, and the Pentagon had a problem. They'd poured millions of dollars into a new voice encryption system -- dubbed the "X System" -- but no one was certain how secure it was. So the top brass called in Claude Shannon to analyze their code and -- if all went well -- to prove that it was mathematically unbreakable. Shannon was a new breed of mathematician: A specialist in what's known today as information theory. To Shannon and his fellow theorists, information was something separate from the letters, numbers and facts it represented. Instead, it was something more abstract; more mathematical: in a word, it was non-redundancy...
Tag Archives | Mathematics
One of the very interesting people I met at How The Light Gets In was the writer and filmmaker David Malone. In conversation with him and (it was a very weird weekend, okay?) Michael Nyman and the head of cultural affairs at the Mexican embassy to the UK, he’d mentioned that some of his work had been uploaded by other people to the net. Also, that his preferred form, the lyric televisual essay, had gone out of fashion. As I’ve noted here more than once, proper rhetorical television isn’t really made any more. So I went looking, when I got home. And I found his DANGEROUS KNOWLEDGE:In this one-off documentary, David Malone looks at four brilliant mathematicians – Georg Cantor, Ludwig Boltzmann, Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing – whose genius
Vint Cerf was one of the main forces behind the creation of the Internet as we know it today. He is accorded elder statesman status, but is in fact still very active in the tech world (currently Google’s “Chief Internet Evangelist”). On the centenary of the birth of an earlier tech revolutionary, Alan Turing, Cerf writes for the BBC that the mathematician who broke the Nazis’ Enigma code in World War 2 should be a household name:
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I’ve worked in computing, and more specifically computer networking, nearly all my life. It’s an industry in a constant state of innovation, always pushing beyond the limits of current capability.
It is sometimes said that “broadband” is whatever network speed you don’t have, yet!
Things we take for granted today were, not that long ago, huge technological breakthroughs.
Although I’ve been lucky enough in my career to be involved in the development of the internet, I’ve never lost sight of the role played by my predecessors, without whose pioneering labour, so much would not have been accomplished.
Not bad. How about showing Americans kids how dumb they are? Via the Herald Sun:
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Shouryya Ray is the first person to work out how to calculate exactly the path of a projectile under gravity and subject to air resistance, The (London) Sunday Times reported.
The Indian-born teen said he solved the problem that had stumped mathematicians for centuries while working on a school project.
Shouryya won a research award for his efforts and has been labeled a genius by the German media, but he put it down to “curiosity and schoolboy naivety.”
“When it was explained to us that the problems had no solutions, I thought to myself, ‘well, there’s no harm in trying,'” he said. Shouryya’s family moved to Germany when he was 12 after his engineer father got a job at a technical college. He said his father instilled in him a “hunger for mathematics” and taught him calculus at the age of six.
Two 70-year-old papers by Alan Turing on the theory of code breaking have been released by the government's communications headquarters, GCHQ. It is believed Turing wrote the papers while at Bletchley Park working on breaking German Enigma codes. A GCHQ mathematician said the fact that the contents had been restricted "shows what a tremendous importance it has in the foundations of our subject". It comes amid celebrations to mark the centenary of Turing's birth. The two papers are now available to view at the National Archives at Kew, west London. GCHQ was able to approximately date the papers because in one example Turing had made reference to Hitler's age.
Here’s a brain teaser: Your task is to move a single line so that the false arithmetic statement below becomes true.
IV = III + IIIDid you get it? In this case, the solution is rather obvious – you should move the first “I” to the right side of the “V,” so that the statement now reads: VI = III + III. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of people (92 percent) quickly solve this problem, as it requires a standard problem-solving approach in which only the answer is altered. What’s perhaps a bit more surprising is that nearly 90 percent of patients with brain damage to the prefrontal lobes — this leaves them with severe attentional deficits, unable to control their mental spotlight — are also able to find the answer ...
EsoZone is festival celebrating alternative culture and thought. It follows a hybrid unconference/conference model, meaning that in addition to pre-programmed content, participants can propose their own sessions to share their own ideas, projects and skills with the group.
This years presentations include:
- Tom Henderson, author of the forthcoming book Punk Rock Mathematics, on illusory nature of self.
- Eric Schiller of Beyond Growth on “digital hipsterism” and the rise of anti-intellectualism in social media.
- Yoga for Slackers lead by Loren mccRory.
- Grant Writing for Artists and Other Alien Beings lead by Amanda Sledz.
- Anarcho-Sewing lead by Jillian Ordes-Finley.
Plus music and performances, and whatever sessions are proposed by this year’s participants.
To American voters, it’s an all-too familiar dilemma: do you cast your lot with the candidate most likely to win, or risk spoiling the election by supporting the third-party candidate in whom you actually believe? What if, instead of choosing one candidate, voters were instead given the opportunity to rate each potential office-holder, in the same way that Olympic judges score athletes? Brian Dunning at Skeptoid takes an interesting look at the mathematics of voting systems:
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In the 1969 film Putney Swope, members of the board of executives were prohibited from voting for themselves, so they all voted for the one board member they were sure nobody else would vote for. Ergo, this free, democratic election produced a chairman that no voter wanted.
In a perfect democracy, everyone gets an equal opportunity to vote, and equal representation. Therefore, we hold elections to let everyone have their say, to either vote representatives into office, or to enact certain laws.
Scientists using a powerful mathematical tool previously applied to the stock market have identified an Achilles heel in HIV that could be a prime target for AIDS vaccines or drugs. The research adds weight to a provocative hypothesis—that an HIV vaccine should avoid a broadside attack and instead home in on a few targets...