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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Math Rocks!!!


vintage 1967:




pssssst… one word to young people planning their future in 2013… "mathematics"

According to a longish piece from Bloomberg Businessweek, "Math Will Rock Your World." It reports on many of the already well-covered issues (positive and negative) surrounding how mathematics is invading/changing the digital world we now live in:

http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2006-01-22/math-will-rock-your-world

...some lines therefrom:
"The world is moving into a new age of numbers. Partnerships between mathematicians and computer scientists are bulling into whole new domains of business and imposing the efficiencies of math… Says James R. Schatz, chief of the mathematics research group at the National Security Agency: 'There has never been a better time to be a mathematician.'
"...companies are hitching mathematics to business in ways that would have seemed fanciful even a few years ago…
"Top mathematicians are becoming a new global elite. It's a force of barely 5,000, by some guesstimates, but every bit as powerful as the armies of Harvard University MBAs who shook up corner suites a generation ago...
"One significant challenge to the math revolution is to build new businesses from data without sacrificing privacy… The goal now is to create systems that share group information while shielding the individual… Mathematicians are at the heart of the privacy battle -- on both sides...
"As more of the world's information is pooled into mathematics, the realm of numbers becomes an ever larger meeting ground. It's a percolating laboratory full of surprising connections, and a birthplace for new industries. Yes, it's a magnificent time to know math."
 But so much for the world of business… At least once a year I find some excuse to link to Jonathan Coulton's rousing "The Mandelbrot Set" song, 'cuz… HEY... it… just… ROCKS… too!! Usually I link to this YouTube version:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEw8xpb1aRA

…but here is Coulton actually singing the song live (not a great recording, but follow along the marvelous lyrics below. You can also download the tune from Jonathan's website: http://www.jonathancoulton.com/ )



 Lyrics:

Pathological monsters! cried the terrified mathematician
Every one of them is a splinter in my eye
I hate the Peano Space and the Koch Curve
I fear the Cantor Ternary Set
And the Sierpinski Gasket makes me want to cry
And a million miles away a butterfly flapped its wings
On a cold November day a man named Benoit Mandelbrot was born

His disdain for pure mathematics and his unique geometrical insights
Left him well equipped to face those demons down
He saw that infinite complexity could be described by simple rules
He used his giant brain to turn the game around
And he looked below the storm and saw a vision in his head
A bulbous pointy form
He picked his pencil up and he wrote his secret down

Take a point called Z in the complex plane
Let Z1 be Z squared plus C
And Z2 is Z1 squared plus C
And Z3 is Z2 squared plus C and so on
If the series of Z's should always stay
Close to Z and never trend away
That point is in the Mandelbrot Set

Mandelbrot Set you're a Rorschach Test on fire
You're a day-glo pterodactyl
You're a heart-shaped box of springs and wire
You're one badass fucking fractal
And you're just in time to save the day
Sweeping all our fears away
You can change the world in a tiny way

Mandelbrot's in heaven, at least he will be when he's dead
Right now he's still alive and teaching math at Yale
He gave us order out of chaos, he gave us hope where there was none
And his geometry succeeds where others fail
If you ever lose your way, a butterfly will flap its wings
From a million miles away, a little miracle will come to take you home

Just take a point called Z in the complex plane
Let Z1 be Z squared plus C
And Z2 is Z1 squared plus C
And Z3 is Z2 squared plus C and so on
If the series of Z's should always stay
Close to Z and never trend away
That point is in the Mandelbrot Set
Mandelbrot Set you're a Rorschach Test on fire
You're a day-glo pterodactyl
You're a heart-shaped box of springs and wire
You're one badass fucking fractal
And you're just in time to save the day
Sweeping all our fears away
You can change the world in a tiny way
And you're just in time to save the day
Sweeping all our fears away
You can change the world in a tiny way
Go on change the world in a tiny way
Come on change the world in a tiny way

-------------------------

(...you'll never get that from Justin Bieber ;-))

ADDENDUM: p.s. for any who don't know, Benoit Mandelbrot passed away a couple of years back. His memoir, "The Fractalist" was published last year.

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