|Off on a Tangent
|A Fortnightly Electronic
Newsletter from the Hope College Department of Mathematics
|April 19, 2017||Vol. 15, No. 12
week's colloquia will take graph theory to the extreme!
||Title: What is Extremal Graph Theory?|
|Speaker: Dr. Lauren Keough, GVSU|
|Time: 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, April
|Place: VanderWerf 102
students compete in the Lower Michigan Mathematics Competition
students (clockwise around the blue sign when viewed from above,
starting at right: Richard Edwards, Russell Houpt, Chris McAuley,
Elizabeth Lindquist, Amanda Rensmo, Jimmy Cerone, and Yong Chul Yoon)
traveled to University of Michigan Flint on Saturday, April 8 to
compete in the
Lower Michigan Mathematics Competition. There were 26 registered
teams from 11 Michigan colleges and universities. It was a
beautiful day and the competition included some very clever questions
(including one about muffin preferences). They even got to see
lovely Flint River which runs through campus.
The results should be announced later this month. To view the problems the students worked on click here.
|Math in the News: The most beautiful mathematical equation|
I teach calculus or precalculus and we first come to exponential
equations, I usually tell the students that this is my favorite
equation. It is so simple, yet can be very surprising and beautiful. I
usually get a chuckle or two from students that might not think one can
have a favorite type of equation or there is beauty in what they have
been studying. Well there is beauty in equations and research has
This past Sunday, New York Times Op-Ed writer Richard Friedman wrote about the world's most beautiful mathematical equation. He discussed research done that shows that mathematicians' brains respond to the beauty of an equation much the same way that they respond to the beauty of art or music. While not all equations, like not all art or music, is considered beautiful to everyone. The research showed that the most beautiful equation was Euler's Identity. You can read Friedman's article here and see an explanation of Euler's Identity here. Finally (and I don't advocate that you go this far), take a look at what one mathematics major did to show his love of Euler here.
Solvers of the Fortnight
In the last problem of the fortnight we saw the following exchange between Math Man and Vectoria:
"Hey there, Mathlete!"
"Oh, hi, Vectoria. Did you have a nice spring break?"
"Yeah, it was great! My family and I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to go someplace, and we pseudo-randomly chose to visit Monte Carlo!"
"Wow! Sounds like kind of a gamble just to up and go halfway around the world, but I bet your vacation was a winner!"
"It was. One we decided where to go, we were 'all in,' as the kids say these days. A couple days were cool and rainy, but you play the hand you're dealt, right?"
"Sure enough," Math Man says rather absent mindedly, as his eyes return to the paper he was looking at before Vectoria stopped by.
"What'cha workin' on?"
"Oh, just something," Double M says, "or, rather, s-u-m thing," he says, spelling it out and chuckling to himself at his clever turn of phrase. "That was just a little joke. I'm working on a math problem that involves a sum."
"I should have known it would be s-u-m thing like that" says Vectoria, spelling it out to volley his joke back to him. "What's the problem? You know I love those things."
"Well . . . A red circle is inscribed in an equilateral triangle of side length w, like this," says Math Man, pointing to figure 1. "In each of the three corners of this triangle, a smaller equilateral triangle is drawn tangent to the red circle, and a cyan circle is inscribed in this smaller triangle, like so," he says, pointing to figure 2. "The next step in this process is shown here," says Math Man, showing her figure 3. "The question is: If this process of drawing smaller equilateral triangles with inscribed circles is continued indefinitely, what is the total area of all of the circles in terms of w?"
Congratulations to Richard Edwards, Ford Fishman, Ce Gao, Tyler Gast, Calvin Gentry, Ethan Heyboer, Karthik Karyamapudi, Philip LaPorte, Dane Linsky, Colin McMurrary, Alex Osterbaan, John Peterson, Mark Powers, Kip Schomber, Caleb Stuckey, Sam VanderArk, Allison VanZanten, Evan Vogel, Jim Williamson, and Yizhe Zhang -- all of whom correctly solved the problem in the last issue of Off on a Tangent.
of the Fortnight
"Hi, V. What'cha doin'?" Math Man says to Vectoria, who seems preoccupied by the clock on the enormous clock tower at DeVos Fieldhouse.
"Oh, hi, Math Man. I was just seeing what time it was. . . . "
"Um, well, I'm kinda surprised you don't know this, but if the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the one, we say it's one o'clock."
"Thanks, Double M! That clears up a whole lifetime of confusion about telling time on analog clocks," said Vectoria sarcastically.
"Okay, okay. I deserve that. But why were you just staring at the clock?
"Well, I started thinking."
"Really? What about?"
"Well, how long do you think that minute hand is?" asked Vectoria.
"Oh, probably about 6 feet."
"And how long do you think the hour hand it?
"Maybe 4 feet."
"If that's so, then how fast is the distance between points at the end of the the minute hand and the hour hand changing precisely at one o'clock?"
"Wow. I don't think I've ever wondered that just looking at a clock, but it's kind of a cool question, now that you mention it."
"I thought so, too," said Vectoria, "but I haven't been able to solve it. Wanna work on it with me?
"Sure!" said Math Man. "I thought you'd never ask!"
Help Vectoria and Math Man by submitting your solution (not just the answer) on the back of a picture of one of the world's famous clock towers by 3:00 p.m. on Friday, April 28. As always, be sure to include your name as well as the name(s) of your math professor(s) -- e.g. Stew D. Uss, Professor Hal Palott -- on your solution. Good luck and have fun!
on a Tangent