Category Archives: computing

AIpocalypse

Murder by Robot in R.U.R. (Image from Wikipedia.)The robot that runs amok and turns on its maker has been a staple of fiction and film for at least a century. The plotline goes back to Karel Kapek’s 1921 play R.U.R., … Continue reading

Posted in computing, modern life | 7 Comments

Meet the Julians

JuliaCon, the annual gathering of the community focused on the Julia programming language, convened last week at MIT. I hung out there for a couple of days, learned a lot, and had a great time. I want to report back … Continue reading

Posted in computing | 3 Comments

Traffic Jams in Javascript

Building bigger roads can make traffic worse. The usual explanation for this counter­intuitive and counterproductive outcome is that bigger roads attract bigger shopping malls, which in turn attract more cars. But that’s not the whole story. In the 1960s Dietrich … Continue reading

Posted in computing, featured, mathematics, modern life | 13 Comments

Whales of the Web

The average web site has links connecting it with 29 other sites. I came up with this number in the following way. A data set I’ve been playing with for a few weeks lists 43 million web sites and 623 … Continue reading

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A taxing algorithm

My first encounter with the term algorithm did not come from Don Knuth. I learned it from the Internal Revenue Service. Sometime in the late 1960s or early 70s the IRS introduced a redesigned Form 1040 based on a principle … Continue reading

Posted in computing, modern life | 12 Comments