Episodes
Games are an established aide in pre-college mathematics education. Meanwhile, innumerable popular books have investigated the mathematics of games. In a new edited volume for the AMS/MAA Classroom Resource Materials Series, topologist and NSF educational program director Mindy Capaldi and contributors join advanced topics with innovative lesson designs in possibly the first book of game-based mathematics education for college curricula. Teaching Mathematics Through Games (MAA Press, 2020)...
Published 05/10/22
Listen to this interview of Dashun Wang, Professor at the Kellogg School of Management and McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University, and also with Albert-László Barabási, Robert Gray Dodge Professor of Network Science and Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University. We talk about their new book The Science of Science" (Cambridge UP, 2021) and science, squared. Albert-László Barabási : "There is, of course, the need that you grow professionally. If you're a...
Published 04/13/22
Published 04/13/22
Listen to this interview of Hilary Glasman-Deal, teacher of STEMM communication at the Centre for Academic English, Imperial College London, and author ofScience Research Writing For Native and Non-Native Speakers of English (World Scientific Publishing Europe, 2020). We talk about researching, reading, and writing. Hilary Glasman-Deal : "One of the things I'm very often saying, particularly with early-career researchers, is this: 'Look, your reading is clearly effective, because you...
Published 03/31/22
In A New History of Modern Computing (MIT Press, 2021), Thomas Haigh and Paul Ceruzzi trace changes leading to the computer becoming a ubiquitous technology. Over the past fifty years, the computer has been transformed from a hulking scientific super tool and data processing workhorse, remote from the experiences of ordinary people to a diverse family of devices that billions rely on to play games, shop, stream music, and movies, communicate, and count their steps. A comprehensive reimagining...
Published 03/30/22
As the US contends with issues of populism and de-democratization, this timely study considers the impacts of digital technologies on the country’s politics and society. In Algorithms and the End of Politics: How Technology Shapes 21st-Century American Life (Bristol University Press, 2021), Dr. Scott Timcke provides a Marxist analysis of the rise of digital media, social networks and technology giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. He looks at the impact of these new platforms...
Published 03/28/22
Nick Enfield’s book, Language vs. Reality: Why Language is Good for Lawyers and Bad for Scientists (MIT Press, 2022), argues that language is primarily for social coordination, not precisely transferring thoughts from one person to another. Drawing on empirical research, Enfield shows that human lexicons the world over are far more coarse-grained than our perceptual faculties. Yet, at the same time, languages vary in the structure and sophistication of their representations. This means that,...
Published 03/23/22
What happens when artificial intelligence saturates political life and depletes the planet? How is AI shaping our understanding of ourselves and our societies? In The Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence (Yale University Press, 2021), Kate Crawford reveals how this planetary network is fuelling a shift toward undemocratic governance and increased racial, gender, and economic inequality. Drawing on more than a decade of research, award‑winning...
Published 03/21/22
Listen to this interview of Stephen Heard, Professor of Biology at the University of New Brunswick. We talk about his book The Scientist’s Guide to Writing: How to Write More Easily and Effectively Throughout Your Scientific Career, 2nd ed. (Princeton UP, 2022), we talk about writing when it's a verb, we talk about writing when it's a choice, and we talk about writing when it's the science. Stephen Heard : "Especially for early-career scientists there's a risk of their writing entering into a...
Published 03/21/22
The Constitution of Algorithms: Ground-Truthing, Programming, Formulating (MIT Press, 2021) is a laboratory study that investigates how algorithms come into existence. Algorithms--often associated with the terms big data, machine learning, or artificial intelligence--underlie the technologies we use every day, and disputes over the consequences, actual or potential, of new algorithms arise regularly. In this book, Florian Jaton offers a new way to study computerized methods, providing an...
Published 03/16/22
Police use of advanced data collection and analysis technologies—or, "big data policing"—continues to receive both positive and negative attention through media, activism, and politics. While some high-profile cases illustrate its potential to hasten investigations or even solve previously unsolved crimes, and others showcase risks to individual liberties and vulnerable communities, we know surprisingly little about how and why police departments actually adopt and deploy these tools. Sarah...
Published 03/04/22
There is a logical flaw in the statistical methods used across experimental science. This fault is not a minor academic quibble: it underlies a reproducibility crisis now threatening entire disciplines. In an increasingly statistics-reliant society, this same deeply rooted error shapes decisions in medicine, law, and public policy with profound consequences. The foundation of the problem is a misunderstanding of probability and its role in making inferences from observations. Aubrey Clayton...
Published 02/10/22
Students' success in mathematics at community colleges has been the subject of thorough quantitative research, which has reported poor overall results and described a range of explanations for them. Even as policies, course formats, and the composition of the student population have changed, success rates have remained dishearteningly low. The challenges confronted by community college students in developmental and higher-level math classes are historical, financial, social, and personal....
Published 02/01/22
Today I talked to Helga Nowotny about her new book In AI We Trust: Power, Illusion and Control of Predictive Algorithms (Polity, 2021). One of the most persistent concerns about the future is whether it will be dominated by the predictive algorithms of AI - and, if so, what this will mean for our behaviour, for our institutions and for what it means to be human. AI changes our experience of time and the future and challenges our identities, yet we are blinded by its efficiency and fail to...
Published 01/20/22
A true understanding of the pervasive role of software in the world demands an awareness of the volume and variety of real-world software failures and their consequences. No more thorough survey of these events may be available than Thomas Huckle and Tobias Neckel's Bits and Bugs: A Scientific and Historical Review of Software Failures in Computational Science (SIAM, 2019). Their book organizing an extensive collection of episodes into eight chapters that expand on an array of flavors of...
Published 01/17/22
Why does a clarinet play at lower pitches than a flute? What does it mean for sounds to be in or out of tune? How are emotions carried by music? Do other animals perceive sound like we do? How might a musician use math to come up with new ideas? This book offers a lively exploration of the mathematics, physics, and neuroscience that underlie music in a way that readers without scientific background can follow. David Sulzer, also known in the musical world as Dave Soldier, explains why the...
Published 12/30/21
One pervasive stereotype about mathematics is that it is objective, unbiased, or otherwise exempt from the influence of human passions. James Wynn and G. Mitchell Reyes's edited collection will be a revelation even to mathematics professionals who don't take this strict view. The essays in Arguing with Numbers: The Intersections of Rhetoric and Mathematics (The Pennsylvania State UP, 2021) explore the interplays between rhetoric and mathematics that have shaped scholarly and popular culture...
Published 12/07/21
The Joy of Mathematics is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Ian Stewart, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick and bestselling science and science fiction writer. For Ian Stewart, mathematics is far more than dreary arithmetic, while mathematical thinking is one of the most important—and overlooked—aspects of contemporary society. This wide-ranging conversation explores what mathematics is and why it’s worth doing, symmetry, networks...
Published 11/12/21
Students and their families face a consequential choice in whether to pursue a degree, and in what area. For those considering mathematics programs, the choice may be particularly fraught: A gulf separates the exploratory and experimental mathematics done by professionals from the computational training of most secondary schools, and this can obscure the meanings of program options. Meanwhile, cultural anxieties and stereotypes can dissuade students who would flourish in mathematical careers....
Published 11/05/21
Our universe might appear chaotic, but deep down it's simply a myriad of rules working independently to create patterns of action, force, and consequence. In Ten Patterns That Explain the Universe (MIT Press, 2021), Brian Clegg explores the phenomena that make up the very fabric of our world by examining ten essential sequenced systems. From diagrams that show the deep relationships between space and time to the quantum behaviors that rule the way that matter and light interact, Clegg shows...
Published 09/28/21
As algorithms become ever more significant to and embedded in our everyday lives, ever more accessible introductions to them are needed. While several excellent technical and critical treatments have emerged in recent years, i had not come across a book for the general public that would provide a deep sense for the intuitions and motivations behind their development. Chris Bleakley's new book offers this and more: conceptual rigor woven into historical vignettes in a style that i believe...
Published 09/27/21
Alfred S. Posamentier's Math Tricks: The Surprising Wonders of Shapes and Numbers (Prometheus Books, 2021) has a lovely assortment of puzzles from all areas of mathematics. Some will be familiar to many readers, but there are plenty of ones I’d never seen before – and I’ve seen lots of them. Some are at just the right level to intrigue students who may be put off by the dry way a lot of math courses are taught – and this alone is enough to make any parent consider having the book available...
Published 08/30/21
Math Renaissance: Growing Math Circles, Changing Classrooms, and Creating Sustainable Math Education (Natural Math, 2018) couples two educational memoirs: Student Rachel Steinig brings her experience from diverse schooling models, surveys of teachers and fellow students, and selections of peer-reviewed scholarship to an examination of math instruction in the United States. Her chapters seek to locate root causes, transcend conventional advice, and inspire readers to imagine radical...
Published 08/26/21
Sixteen of today's greatest unsolved mathematical puzzles in a story-driven, illustrated volume that invites readers to peek over the edge of the unknown. Most people think of mathematics as a set of useful tools designed to answer analytical questions, beginning with simple arithmetic and ending with advanced calculus. But, as Mage Merlin's Unsolved Mathematical Mysteries (MIT Press, 2020) shows, mathematics is filled with intriguing mysteries that take us to the edge of the unknown. This...
Published 08/10/21