Author Archives: Hunter Johnson

Is RSA Safe?

There has been some talk in the news recently that the security provided by the RSA encryption algorithm isn’t as secure as it used to be. RSA is an acronym standing for Rivest, Shamir, and Adleman, the individuals who designed … Continue reading

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Jewish Mathematicians in Germany

A year or so ago I stumbled across Reuben Hersh’s “Under-represented Then Over-represented: A Memoir of Jews in American Mathematics” in the pages of a recent Best Writing on Mathematics volume. That article describes the arc of Jewish mathematical history … Continue reading

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Meaning and use

A professional mathematician has, through exposure to many trials, become something like a desert creature, capable of supplying “meaning” metabolically by an internal gland rather than imbibing it from without. It can be difficult to diagnose “meaning deprivation” in our … Continue reading

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Existence

I was wandering in my neighborhood bookstore this morning, when I came across a new edition of The Greek Myths, by Robert Graves.  Attracted by the cover, and my love of the Claudius series, I decided to bring it home.   … Continue reading

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Mysterium Cosmographicum

Why study mathematics? This is a catechism of mathematics education. The correct answer has something to do with the prevalence of mathematics, its applicability, its beauty, and its power. What kind of person studies mathematics, and why? Again, there are … Continue reading

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Ramanujan and G S Carr

In every semester there are times when certain topics arise, and anyone now teaching (or enrolled in) Calc II must be dealing with infinite series. Two things I like to present are Leibniz’s “arithmetic quadrature” of the circle: and Ramanujan’s … Continue reading

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Circles, Lines and Regions

Last week when I was trying to sort out a combinatorial question related to my research, I accidentally ended up redoing some fun geometry of the type covered (?) in an undergraduate discrete math, or intro to topology course. I’m … Continue reading

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The Apocalyptic Quaternion

The feelings that I associate with Quaternions (which I will persist in capitalizing, as an homage to their 19th century origins) are not really professional. I see them as a Victorian curiosity; the kind of thing that might be referenced … Continue reading

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SAGE

Lately I’ve been playing around with the free software package SAGE, which does a lot of things mathematical.  Though I think most people will have heard of SAGE, let me give their mission statement as expressed on their website: Sage … Continue reading

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Totally Disconnected

Last week I went to two talks on my campus.  One was by Richard Stallman, one of the founders of the GNU project and thus a co-inventor of Linux. The other was by the Nobel-prize winning economist Amartya Sen. Both … Continue reading

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