Monthly Archives: February 2006


In a “Computing Science” column titled “Rumours and Errours,” not quite a year ago, a leading role went to the nondescript number 0.203188. That number emerged from a simulation of how rumors spread through a society; given certain assumptions, 0.203188 … Continue reading

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Taxation without rationalization

I am the child of a bookkeeper, and I’ve inherited the habit of double-checking receipts and balancing accounts. My friends make fun of me when I carefully note down the dime that I put in a parking meter, but lately … Continue reading

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Life after algebra

Three weeks ago, Duke Helfand of the Los Angeles Times wrote a thoughtful article on high school algebra. A one-semester course in algebra has recently become a requirement for graduation in the Los Angeles unified school district, and many students … Continue reading

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Playfair’s Powerpoint Presentation

“To those interested in the effective visual communication of quantitative phenomena, William Playfair’s Atlas is like the Bible: an ancient and revered book that is often cited but rarely read.” —Howard Wainer and Ian Spence The Commercial and Political Atlas … Continue reading

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Zeroing in on zeta zeros

Casual observers of the mathematical arts might be forgiven for feeling that mathematicians sometimes make rapid progress in the wrong direction. For example, the concept of a prime number is simple enough to be understood by anyone who knows a … Continue reading

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