Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Math in the Media: NFL Mathematician??

I am often asked what kinds of careers can a mathematician construct for themselves.  There are many answers to this question, and in full generality, the list is long and very diverse.  However, I recently found a new one:  Professional American football player!!  

It seems that our very own John Urschel, a guard of the Baltimore Ravens ("our very own" because we are here in Baltimore after all), is a mathematician whose recent paper "A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fielder Vector of Graph Laplacians” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Computational Mathematics.  Mr. Urschel received his Masters Degree in Mathematics from Penn State and was drafted by the Ravens last year.

One can find mathematicians in the oddest of places, no?  One just has to look carefully....

...although in this case, it is not hard to see.  Mr. Urschel's is on Twitter.  His name??


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Math in the Media: Gender Bias in Teachers?

Yes, it does take a village to raise a child....  (H/T to The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton.)  But it seems it also takes a village to discourage girls from achieving their full potential in math and math-related fields....  (Sigh!)

In a new study, headed by Edith Sand, an economist at the Bank of Israel and an instructor at the Tel-Aviv University’s Berglas School of Economics, teachers themselves contribute to the problem of too many female students shying away from higher-level math courses as they progress in their education.  The study found a gender bias in performance evaluation;  Teachers who knew the identities of their students tended to grade girls more harshly and boys less so on exams than teachers who did not have any information about the students.   Unconscious or not, our influence as teachers on students always goes far beyond the content of our lectures and exercises.  But this influence may not always be constructive.  What care we need to always take....

The article, reported by Linda Carroll for Today, is  here:
Teacher Bias May Help Discourage Girls from Math, Study Finds
The study is published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass.

Depressing...?  Yes.  Hopeful?  Also.  Knowing of an unconscious bias can contribute to its cure, eh? 

Remember School House Rock?  "Knowledge is Power"

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Math in the Media: Homer vs. Pierre?

I just had the pleasure of watching a neat 8 minute video detailing some of the mathematics injected in to the Simpsons animations.  Apparently, there are mathematicians among the creative staff who cannot help themselves throwing in a little math humor into the background every so often. 

The video, listed here on YouTube by Numberphile is titled

Homer Simpson vs Pierre de Fermat

 Do give it a watch.  It is always good to know where the subliminal messages about how cool math really is are lurking, no?