May the Fourth be with you…….


For the past two winter studies I’ve taught a course on the Mathematics of LEGO bricks, with a goal of assembling a team to assemble the 3152 piece Superstar destroyer  in under 10 minutes (we just missed by a few seconds the first year, and did it in under 9 in the second). This left

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To bead, or not to bead….


It is often said that mathematics  is universal; one of my greatest joys, both as a parent and as a professor, is finding interesting and novel ways to illustrate various concepts. Over the past few years I’ve been fortunate to work with many great SMALL students on projects related to Zeckendorf’s theorem, which says that

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Crash Takes Nash Four Days after Abel Prize


On the way home from receiving the million-dollar Abel Prize from King Harald of Norway, John Nash, along with his wife Alicia, was killed in a taxicab crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. I was at the Abel ceremonies May 21-22 myself to give the Science Lecture. Louis Nirenberg and John Nash received math’s highest

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Math/Stat Awards Banquet


It was another glorious year in the Math/Stat department at Williams.  We celebrated its end with our annual banquet, packed with over 150 faculty and students.  As tradition, the new majors received a beverage wrench, and everyone joined in applauding the winners of this year’s awards. Colloquium Attendance: Mary Gong Goldberg Prize for Best Colloquium:

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Reimagining the Course Catalog

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BACKGROUND At the start of the year, I was made chair of a committee to reimagine the Williams Course Catalog for 2015-2016.  We were tasked with coming up with a “scheme and shape” for how the course catalog can be organized, and how different kinds of information can be visualized.  Instead of providing a list of

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Best Jobs 2015


Mathematics and statistics are essential skills for most of the best six jobs in 2015, according to the latest rankings by Here are the top six jobs: 1. Actuary 2. Audiologist 3. Mathematician 4. Statistician 5. Biomedical Engineer 6. Data Scientist For more information see also the original post by

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The James Function


Like many mathematicians, I’m happy when I can combine my work with my other passions. As a lifelong Red Sox fan, I didn’t realize that all those games I watched when I was young was preparing me for a very productive career in sabermetrics, the science of applying math and stats to analyzing baseball. I’ve

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Cartography of Tree Space


Over six years ago, I wrote a post on ways in which mathematics (at  a research level) and art (at a gallery level) can intersect today.  The problem is that in our enlightened world, the work of the mathematician and the visual artist are not only viewed as incompatible, but held in tension. In my post

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Williams PBK: 150th Anniversary


Join us Wednesday, March 18th for a day of activities celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Williams Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society. Events begin at 10am in Lawrence 231 where William  Arms of Cornell, our distinguished visiting scholar, will give a talk in Math/Stat 341 on “The Early Years of

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Lego Superstar Record!


In Math 12, The Mathematics of Lego Bricks, while we used lego bricks as a springboard to talk about a lot of interesting math (the lectures and additional comments are available here), the main goal was to successfully build the Superstar Destroyer in under 10 minutes. It was an interesting challenge to divide the work

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