Math Comm Blog

2013 MAA Writing Award Winners: College Mathematics Journal

Awards for exemplary writing in MAA journals and magazines were handed out in August at MAA MathFest in Hartford, Connecticut. The winning articles (PDF) are now available online, along with the award citations explaining why each article merited an award. George Pólya Awards (presented to authors of articles of expository excellence published in The College Mathematics Journal) Jacob Siehler The Finite Lamplighter Groups: A Guided Tour The College Mathematics Journal, Vol. 43, no. 3, May 2012, pp. 203-211 Citation: Does the imperative of technical accuracy compel mathematical exposition to be impersonal and officious? Not if you’re Jacob Siehler. He introduces […]

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2013 MAA Writing Award Winners: American Mathematical Monthly

Awards for exemplary writing in MAA journals and magazines were handed out in August at MAA MathFest in Hartford, Connecticut. The winning articles (PDF) are now available online, along with the award citations explaining why each article merited an award. Paul R. Halmos–Lester R. Ford Awards (presented to authors of articles of expository excellence published in The American Mathematical Monthly) Robert T. Jantzen and Klaus Volpert On the Mathematics of Income Inequality: Splitting the Gini Index in Two The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 119, no. 10, December 2012, pp. 824-837 Citation: This article starts with the stunning fact that a […]

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2013 MAA Merten M. Hasse Prize for Expository Writing

Awards for exemplary writing in MAA journals and magazines were handed out in August at MAA MathFest in Hartford, Connecticut. The winning articles (PDF) are now available online, along with the award citations explaining why each article merited an award. Merten M. Hasse Prize (presented to authors of a noteworthy expository paper appearing in an MAA publication, at least one of whose authors is a younger mathematician, generally under the age of 40) Henryk Gerlach and Heiko von der Mosel On Sphere-Filling Ropes The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 118, no. 10, December 2011, pp. 863-876 Citation: In the paper “On […]

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2013 MAA Writing Award Winner: Math Horizons

Awards for exemplary writing in MAA journals and magazines were handed out in August at MAA MathFest in Hartford, Connecticut. The winning articles (PDF) are now available online, along with the award citations explaining why each article merited an award. Trevor Evans Award (presented to authors of exceptional articles that are accessible to undergraduates and published in Math Horizons) Margaret Symington Euclid Makes the Cut Math Horizons, Vol. 19, no. 3, February 2012, pp. 6-9 Citation: Can you tell the difference between terms used in either dermatologic surgery or geometric topology? Margaret Symington challenges us to do just that and […]

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2013 MAA Writing Award Winners: Mathematics Magazine

Awards for exemplary writing in MAA journals and magazines were handed out in August at MAA MathFest in Hartford, Connecticut. The winning articles (PDF) are now available online, along with the award citations explaining why each article merited an award. Carl B. Allendoerfer Awards (made to authors of articles of expository excellence published in Mathematics Magazine) Khristo N. Boyadzhiev Close Encounters with the Stirling Numbers of the Second Kind Mathematics Magazine, Vol. 85, no. 4, October 2012, pp. 252-266 Citation: The Scottish mathematician James Stirling, in his 1730 book Methodus Differentialis, explored Newton series, which are expansions of functions in […]

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Exploring the Mathematics of the Card Game Set

Contemplation by a team of mathematics teachers of the four-dimensional structure of the game Set has given rise to some intriguing mathematical research worthy of publication in a mathematics journal—and a novel variant of the fast-paced pattern-recognition game. A Set deck has 81 cards, each of which displays a design with four attributes: shape, number, shading, and color. Each attribute has three possible values. For example, a card may display one, two, or three identical shapes, and those shapes may be red, green, or purple. A player’s object in a traditional game of Set is to pick out from 12-card […]

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Characteristics of Effective Communication

By Susan Ruff Johann’s presentation on partitions was carefully crafted. The math was completely correct, the board work was neat and legible, the delivery was professional, and the timing was perfect. But the talk was so dry and formal that the other students quickly reverted to the blank look that suggests they have more interesting things to think about. In contrast, Karen’s presentation on generating functions gained and held the attention of many of the students. She successfully conveyed the beauty and power of generating functions . . . to the front half of the class. The rest couldn’t hear […]

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A Nobel Writing Effort

The May 2013 issue of the American Mathematical Monthly includes a timely reprint of the influential 1962 article “College Admissions and the Stability of Marriage” by David Gale and Lloyd S. Shapley. This paper serves as an exemplary model of mathematical exposition, one that every author should strive to emulate. With admirable brevity and dry wit, the six-page article presents a set of novel ideas in a way that is both engaging and informative. It uses examples effectively, and it offers arguments carried out not in mathematical symbols but in ordinary English. It has no references, but it does conclude […]

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Summer School Exposition

Your audience consists of about 100 talented mathematics students, gathered from around the world. Some are high school juniors and seniors; others are college freshmen and sophomores. How would you present a topic of current mathematical interest to this group in such a way that they, too, can share in the excitement of mathematical discovery? This was the communications challenge that speakers—prominent research mathematicians—faced at the International Mathematical Summer School for Students in July 2011 at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany. The speakers included John H. Conway, John H. Hbbard, Sergei Tabachnikov, Étienne Ghys, Tadashi Tokieda, Dierk Schleicher, Rostislav Matveev, […]

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John Allen Paulos to Receive Math Communications Award

John Allen Paulos is the recipient of the 2013 Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM) Communications Award. A professor of mathematics at Temple University, Paulos is the author of eight books, including Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, and numerous, widely read columns, commentaries, and reviews. He is also a lively, provocative presence on Twitter (@JohnAllenPaulos). Paulos will receive his award at the Joint Prize Session at the Joint Mathematics Meetings on January 10, 2013, in San Diego. JPBM established the award in 1988 to reward and encourage communicators who, on a sustained basis, bring mathematical ideas and information to […]

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What is Math Comm

MAA Mathematical Communication (mathcomm.org) is a developing collection of resources for engaging students in writing and speaking about mathematics. The site originated in the MIT Department of Mathematics and was expanded through support from an NSF grant.