purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (mathematics)
I'm wondering if a recap is needed here. In short, a non-euclidean surface is one in which the most efficient way to get from point a to point b is not necessarily a straight line (e.g. you have to go over some kind of bump or frill). It turns out that lots of geometry continues to work if you treat these most efficient routes like we do straight lines in normal geometry.

The bumpiness of the surface we are working with is called its curvature. If you have positive curvature you end up with a ball shape (like the Earth), if you have negative curvature you have "saddle" shapes - shapes where the surface is curving up in one direction and down in the other. These give you frilly surfaces.

On a normal flat surface, if you draw a circle, say, with a particular radius then you expect this circle to have the same area wherever you draw it. On the frilly surfaces I've been crocheting up so far this isn't the case, basically the amount of frilliness has varied as the surface got larger. Below the cut is a surface with uniform negative curvature which has the same amount of frilliness everywhere (It must be said I've not checked this, I just believed the spreadsheet I used which told me how much "bigger" to get on each crochet row).

Crotchet Model Beneath the Cut )

This is probably my last non-euclidean crochet model. There are a few more in the book I've been using (Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes by Daina Tamina) but they aren't nearly so pretty - though I'm a little tempted to have a go at a Klein bottle. That said, various people have requested hats and other things, so I may well post more crotchet pictures in future but probably less intellectual ones.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/35287.html.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (mathematics)
I'm wondering if a recap is needed here. In short, a non-euclidean surface is one in which the most efficient way to get from point a to point b is not necessarily a straight line (e.g. you have to go over some kind of bump or frill). It turns out that lots of geometry continues to work if you treat these most efficient routes like we do straight lines in normal geometry.

The bumpiness of the surface we are working with is called its curvature. If you have positive curvature you end up with a ball shape (like the Earth), if you have negative curvature you have "saddle" shapes - shapes where the surface is curving up in one direction and down in the other. These give you frilly surfaces.

On a normal flat surface, if you draw a circle, say, with a particular radius then you expect this circle to have the same area wherever you draw it. On the frilly surfaces I've been crocheting up so far this isn't the case, basically the amount of frilliness has varied as the surface got larger. Below the cut is a surface with uniform negative curvature which has the same amount of frilliness everywhere (It must be said I've not checked this, I just believed the spreadsheet I used which told me how much "bigger" to get on each crochet row).

Crotchet Model Beneath the Cut )

This is probably my last non-euclidean crochet model. There are a few more in the book I've been using (Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes by Daina Tamina) but they aren't nearly so pretty - though I'm a little tempted to have a go at a Klein bottle. That said, various people have requested hats and other things, so I may well post more crotchet pictures in future but probably less intellectual ones.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (mathematics)
As you do, I remarked in passing to my in-laws that infinity plus one was not the same as one plus infinity. This gem of wisdom was duly repeated by my niece and nephew to their mathematics teacher who retorted that I was wrong and, moreover, there was no such thing as infinity. I was therefore requested, in turn, to provide a one page explanation* which could be shown to said mathematics teacher.

Now, it must be said, I don't like to undermine the fine teachers of mathematics who, I suspect, have a hard enough job as it is performing their task without random aunts interfering. On the other hand, a challenge has been laid down.

First of All, Wittgenstien )

So, physically speaking, the mathematics teacher is correct. There is no such thing as infinity. However I bet he's going to teach his class about imaginary numbers at some point and they don't exist either.

Secondly, Transfinite Mathematics )

footnotes )

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/34109.html.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (mathematics)
As you do, I remarked in passing to my in-laws that infinity plus one was not the same as one plus infinity. This gem of wisdom was duly repeated by my niece and nephew to their mathematics teacher who retorted that I was wrong and, moreover, there was no such thing as infinity. I was therefore requested, in turn, to provide a one page explanation* which could be shown to said mathematics teacher.

Now, it must be said, I don't like to undermine the fine teachers of mathematics who, I suspect, have a hard enough job as it is performing their task without random aunts interfering. On the other hand, a challenge has been laid down.

First of All, Wittgenstien )

So, physically speaking, the mathematics teacher is correct. There is no such thing as infinity. However I bet he's going to teach his class about imaginary numbers at some point and they don't exist either.

Secondly, Transfinite Mathematics )

footnotes )
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Pseudospheres )

Pseudospheres are basically just the hyperbolic planes I've crocheted up before only this time in a spiral. Historically they are the first shapes that were hypothesized as examples of non-euclidean surfaces with negative curvature.

Practically speaking it's difficult to know when to stop crocheting up a pseudosphere...

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/29537.html.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Pseudospheres )

Pseudospheres are basically just the hyperbolic planes I've crocheted up before only this time in a spiral. Historically they are the first shapes that were hypothesized as examples of non-euclidean surfaces with negative curvature.

Practically speaking it's difficult to know when to stop crocheting up a pseudosphere...
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
I promised [livejournal.com profile] lukadreaming that I'd try to explain about parallel lines in non-euclidean space. Firstly anything I may have said on the subject in Birmingham should be discounted. Never ask a mathematician questions outside of their field while simultaneously making them watch direct-to-video films.

So we will assume that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. Now if you happen to be on a frill (or, you know, a globe) then you have to go over the bumpy bits to get between the two points so the shortest distance may not be as "straight" as you might think. For instance great circles are the "straight lines" of a globe and the reason why long distance flights often appear to be taking a longer route than necessary.

Euclid attempted to set out the rules for how geometry worked. His aim was to have as few assumptions as possible and derive everything else from those assumptions by reasoning. He managed to get his assumptions down to five, e.g. you can draw a straight line between any two points but he was never really happy with the fifth of these. This postulate, as Euclid stated it, says that if you draw three lines which cross in at least two places and the sum of the two angles facing each other where they cross is less than 180 degrees then in fact all three lines will cross each other (and form a triangle). That's a bit complicated (compared to, you know, you can draw a line between any two points) and you can see why he wasn't happy with it. The fifth postulate has turned out to be equivalent to all sorts of facts and I'm going to pick one which states that if you pick a straight line and a point (which isn't on the straight line), then there is only one way you can draw a straight line through this point which doesn't cross the first line. There is one and only one line parallel to another through any given point.

However, on a frilly surface all bets are off.

Crochet picture under the cut )

One thing mathematicians like to do is to play about with rules and assumptions. Sometimes they do this for the love of it, and sometimes they do it to try and find out where they hit a patent absurdity so they can work back from there and find out what assumptions are wrong. So people investigated geometries where the fifth postulate didn't hold and they found that a lot of geometry still worked in these circumstances and, in fact, told us useful things about, for instance working with big distances on a globe (great circles (and thus efficient aeroplane routes) are an application of non-euclidean geometries). There is some evidence* that the effect of gravity on space and time means that the most efficient routes through the universe may not be the ones we would intuitively think of as "straight", hence the phrase "space-time curvature" and so non-euclidean geometry will have applications for long-distance space travel if we ever develop it.

*I think this may actually be established fact but I'm not a physicist. *looks hopefully at physicists on the flist*.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/28732.html.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
I promised [livejournal.com profile] lukadreaming that I'd try to explain about parallel lines in non-euclidean space. Firstly anything I may have said on the subject in Birmingham should be discounted. Never ask a mathematician questions outside of their field while simultaneously making them watch direct-to-video films.

So we will assume that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. Now if you happen to be on a frill (or, you know, a globe) then you have to go over the bumpy bits to get between the two points so the shortest distance may not be as "straight" as you might think. For instance great circles are the "straight lines" of a globe and the reason why long distance flights often appear to be taking a longer route than necessary.

Euclid attempted to set out the rules for how geometry worked. His aim was to have as few assumptions as possible and derive everything else from those assumptions by reasoning. He managed to get his assumptions down to five, e.g. you can draw a straight line between any two points but he was never really happy with the fifth of these. This postulate, as Euclid stated it, says that if you draw three lines which cross in at least two places and the sum of the two angles facing each other where they cross is less than 180 degrees then in fact all three lines will cross each other (and form a triangle). That's a bit complicated (compared to, you know, you can draw a line between any two points) and you can see why he wasn't happy with it. The fifth postulate has turned out to be equivalent to all sorts of facts and I'm going to pick one which states that if you pick a straight line and a point (which isn't on the straight line), then there is only one way you can draw a straight line through this point which doesn't cross the first line. There is one and only one line parallel to another through any given point.

However, on a frilly surface all bets are off.

Crochet picture under the cut )

One thing mathematicians like to do is to play about with rules and assumptions. Sometimes they do this for the love of it, and sometimes they do it to try and find out where they hit a patent absurdity so they can work back from there and find out what assumptions are wrong. So people investigated geometries where the fifth postulate didn't hold and they found that a lot of geometry still worked in these circumstances and, in fact, told us useful things about, for instance working with big distances on a globe (great circles (and thus efficient aeroplane routes) are an application of non-euclidean geometries). There is some evidence* that the effect of gravity on space and time means that the most efficient routes through the universe may not be the ones we would intuitively think of as "straight", hence the phrase "space-time curvature" and so non-euclidean geometry will have applications for long-distance space travel if we ever develop it.

*I think this may actually be established fact but I'm not a physicist. *looks hopefully at physicists on the flist*.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
This is basically the same as my last crochet effort, except a bit frillier, but I was experimenting with the knit-purl version of crotcheting.

Under the Cut )

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/27876.html.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
This is basically the same as my last crochet effort, except a bit frillier, but I was experimenting with the knit-purl version of crotcheting.

Under the Cut )
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Mum bought me Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes for my birthday. I have just finished chapter 1 (go me!!!)

Photo of my very first attempt at crocheting under the cut )

The curvature of a surface is a measure of, well, how curvy it is. Most curved surfaces have positive curvature, turning them into spheres or ellipsoids and the like. If a surface has negative curvature you end up with, well, a frill, which is what I crocheted above by the cunning device of adding in an extra sixth stitch for every 5 on the row below (hence the ratio of 5:6).

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/26700.html.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Mum bought me Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes for my birthday. I have just finished chapter 1 (go me!!!)

Photo of my very first attempt at crocheting under the cut )

The curvature of a surface is a measure of, well, how curvy it is. Most curved surfaces have positive curvature, turning them into spheres or ellipsoids and the like. If a surface has negative curvature you end up with, well, a frill, which is what I crocheted above by the cunning device of adding in an extra sixth stitch for every 5 on the row below (hence the ratio of 5:6).
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
A lot of discussion has been going on on RJ Lipton's blog and he yesterday posted a summary of the progress in one week. On balance I'd say it doesn't look hopeful that Deolalikar's proof can be patched, but there's an interesting sociological process going on, especially for those of us with an interest in the nature of mathematical proof.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/15933.html.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
A lot of discussion has been going on on RJ Lipton's blog and he yesterday posted a summary of the progress in one week. On balance I'd say it doesn't look hopeful that Deolalikar's proof can be patched, but there's an interesting sociological process going on, especially for those of us with an interest in the nature of mathematical proof.
purplecat: Programming the Eniac Computer (computing)
This is, in fact, incredibly exciting news. But I am at a loss about how to explain simply and clearly what it means or why it is exciting in a blog. However my best shot is:

A problem is solvable in Polynomial time (that's P) if, as you make the problem bigger, it doesn't take too much more time to solve (for a technical definition of "too much").

A problem is solvable in Non-deterministic Polynomial time (that's NP) if as you make the problem bigger it doesn't take too much time to check whether a solution is correct. That is you can check the solution in polynomial time. However you do need to have a solution to check first.

No one really knows if P = NP, i.e. whether if you can check a solution in polynomial time then there is a procedure for generating that solution that is also polynomial time. Mostly people have suspected that P doesn't equal NP, and an awful lot of computer security is based on this assumption. It's been an open problem in computer science and mathematics for decades and, pretty much, has been the major open question for that whole time.

Anyway a proof that P != NP was unveiled on Friday though, as I say, it's yet to be checked.

Nature discusses the proof.

Tetris, incidentally, is NP-hard, as are many puzzles and solitaire games that humans find challenging yet fun.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/15812.html.
purplecat: Programming the Eniac Computer (computing)
This is, in fact, incredibly exciting news. But I am at a loss about how to explain simply and clearly what it means or why it is exciting in a blog. However my best shot is:

A problem is solvable in Polynomial time (that's P) if, as you make the problem bigger, it doesn't take too much more time to solve (for a technical definition of "too much").

A problem is solvable in Non-deterministic Polynomial time (that's NP) if as you make the problem bigger it doesn't take too much time to check whether a solution is correct. That is you can check the solution in polynomial time. However you do need to have a solution to check first.

No one really knows if P = NP, i.e. whether if you can check a solution in polynomial time then there is a procedure for generating that solution that is also polynomial time. Mostly people have suspected that P doesn't equal NP, and an awful lot of computer security is based on this assumption. It's been an open problem in computer science and mathematics for decades and, pretty much, has been the major open question for that whole time.

Anyway a proof that P != NP was unveiled on Friday though, as I say, it's yet to be checked.

Nature discusses the proof.

Tetris, incidentally, is NP-hard, as are many puzzles and solitaire games that humans find challenging yet fun.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
The good Christian should beware the mathematician and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of hell. ST AUGUSTINE (354-430)

MP40

Jul. 6th, 2009 12:28 pm
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
40 Years ago Oxford decided to offer a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy. This weekend past there were celebrations.

Talks, The Somerville Maths and Philosophers and an amusing anecdote about Hilbert under the cut )
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (ai)
I just picked out of my work pigeonhole a package with Swedish Stamps. My address is hand-written as is a note in one corner which says "Will tell you more when I return!"

Inside is a slim volume entitiled "Being or Nothingness" by Joe K

The author, you will note, is an anagram of Joke.

There is a sticker on the cover which says "Warning! Please study the letter to Professor Hofstadter before you read the book. Good Luck!"

Douglas Hofstadter is best know as the author of Godel, Escher, Bach: An eternal golden braid. A kind of pop-AI, maths and philosophy book which I was first encouraged to read by a Maths teacher in sixth form but which I only actually finished a couple of years ago. It's a good, if fairly dense, book and I'm not sure how comprehensible it actually is to someone who doesn't already have an AI/Maths/Phil background.

Inside the front cover is attached a letter to Hofstadter which rambles a bit and says things like "The text can be incorporated into both the Jewish and Christian tradition, but doing so with too much vigour would be to narrow its scope."

The back cover blurb implies the contents are a Swedish translation of Conan Doyle's lost "The Giant Rat of Sumatra" and adds that it is "oddly intertwined" with Hofstadter and his new book "I am a strange loop"... "which will soon be released by your Publishing House"

The Preface starts "One day I found a book. It was lying open, visible to all, but I was the only one curious enough to pick it up. This I have regretted many times." and ends "Brace yourself and turn the pages gently as you embark on a strange journey through time and space."

The contents appears to be short random pieces e.g. (page 6)

"Dedication

In commemoration of Joseph Knecht, magister Ludi Josephus III,
who abandoned `the glass bead game,'
the most beautiful of ideas,
FOR LIFE...
... UNTO DEATH"


(That's it for page 6).

Note reappearance of good old Joe K.

-

Beyond noting this is the sort of thing Who authors Lawrence Miles or Jim Mortimore might write, I'd say this was a publicity stunt for Hofstadter's new book except that it seems a pretty expensive way to do publicity - randomly posting books from Sweden with hand written addresses to vaguely related academics. It's not like I know Hofstadter in any way even though I do work in his general area.

Thoughts?

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