Monthly Archives: April 2009

Sic transit

The tattered magazine shown above was on newsstands 60 years ago. You could have bought a copy for 50 cents—which wasn’t cheap at the time. The article featured on the cover, “Mathematical Machines,” surveys the whole topic of computational technology, … Continue reading

Posted in science | 13 Comments

The control room

My “Computing Science” column in the new issue of American Scientist looks at economics—including the current malaise—through the lens of control theory. This is not a new idea. The Keynesian prescription for smoothing out cycles of boom and bust is … Continue reading

Posted in modern life | 1 Comment

Himalayan mathematics

Browsing through some notes I jotted down sometime in 1988, I come upon this sentence: Mathematicians feel about computers much as the Nepalese feel about jet aircraft. Did I read that somewhere, or did I make it up? My notes … Continue reading

Posted in computing, mathematics | 5 Comments

Bits from its

Sometime in the early 1980s my friend Greg Chaitin decided to go digital. He wanted to have all of his own writings, along with some other documents he particularly valued, ready at hand in machine-readable form. This was long before … Continue reading

Posted in computing, modern life | 4 Comments

Pub date

For those of you who have been waiting patiently for the paperback edition of Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions: It’s finally here. Today is the official release date. For those of you waiting for the movie … Continue reading

Posted in books | 2 Comments

Computing in the classroom

As the students file into the classroom, each of them reaches into a basket by the door and selects a ticket, on which a number is printed. For convenience, let’s assume the numbers are integers, they’re of reasonable size, and … Continue reading

Posted in computing | 13 Comments