Yearly Archives: 2010

Googling the lexicon

In 1860, when work began on the New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (better known today as the Oxford English Dictionary), the basic plan was to build an index to all of English literature. Volunteer readers would pore over texts … Continue reading

Posted in books, computing, featured, linguistics | 3 Comments

A square yard of idea

After a year’s absence, I am home again in the pages of American Scientist. I want to thank the six friends and colleagues who kept the Computing Science department going while I was away. Here are their articles: A Tisket, … Continue reading

Posted in biology | 1 Comment

CAPTCHA arbitrage

What a world we live in. It seems there are places on this planet that are wired well enough to support internet commerce, yet where people are poor enough that solving CAPTCHAs for 50 cents per thousand is an economically … Continue reading

Posted in computing, modern life | 14 Comments


It’s been almost a year since Bill Gasarch gave us the problem of four-coloring the nodes of a 17 × 17 grid in such a way that no rectangle has all four corners the same color. (See my earlier commentary … Continue reading

Posted in computing, mathematics, problems and puzzles | 2 Comments

Kenken-friendly numbers

I messed up a kenken the other day, carelessly forgetting that 2, 3, 4 and 6 are not the only divisors of 12. Later, mulling over my mistake, I realized that it’s the presence of the multiplicative identity that gives … Continue reading

Posted in featured, games, mathematics | 12 Comments