Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Four For Tuesday

A few of the things that crossed my screen yesterday…:

1) Another interesting article from the Simons Foundation, this time on the nature and fragility of networks, or as they say, "extreme fragility of interdependency" in the modern world. Be it urban infrastructure, the stock market, even the human body, or other networked systems the risks of small failures leading to chaotic cascading effects seems ever-present, as scientists try to figure out ways to evade catastrophes. From the article:
"While scientists remain cautious about using the results of simplified mathematical models to reengineer real-world systems, some recommendations are beginning to emerge. Based on data-driven refinements, new models suggest interconnected networks should have backups, mechanisms for severing their connections in times of crisis, and stricter regulations to forestall widespread failure."
Read further here: http://tinyurl.com/bom9eym

2) Hat tip to The Aperiodical for bringing this to my attention… a 40-page Shinichi Mochizuki paper intended to assist those trying to understand his "proof" of the ABC conjecture. I certainly don't grasp the paper (although there are a few words I can understand: "the," "of," "with," "for"… ;-) and 99% of folks won't comprehend it, but what's absolutely amazing is that there exists human brain wiring that IS capable of such production/comprehension!:


3) And a hat tip to Patrick Honner for pointing me to this NY Times piece about "online proctoring" for MOOC course testing, a topic that is sure to draw more discussion as time goes on:


4) Finally, even if you're tired of the question, "Is mathematics discovered or invented?" you may find the below New Scientist article interesting… it moves that question into the realm of business, software, and the debate over patentability, before concluding: "The rallying cry of a good many critics remains 'software is mathematics', meaning that software shouldn't be patentable. The odds are stacked against them, though – there's too much money at stake":


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