Mathematics and the WWW

Section 3:
How the World Wide Web is Permeating the World of Mathematics


4 March 1997

This we use to let in the ends of Sliders, or Headtrees,
where the Web of the Hack is too short for the purpose.
                                                       Hooson (1747)

Some examples

Using the World Wide Web you could have found:

You could also have found out about employment opportunities or information on nonacademic careers, looked up information on grants, and found out about other meetings of various math groups and societies. Or you could have simply stayed home with a good math book, perhaps after reading a review. Maybe you'd prefer a MathLand article by Ivars Peterson, or a column by Keith Devlin. Instead you might want to work on your own paper. You could find out where and how to publish it on the MAA or AMS website, and also about using and obtaining TeX. You'd prefer to contact some friends? Use the combined membership list for addresses, phone numbers, and email. You can check out what's happening in their departments, wherever they may be. And if you just want other mathematicians to talk to, there are loads of possibilities both advanced and elementary.

Of course the Web isn't restricted to just mathematics. In preparation for the meeting I got maps and driving directions. Here's a map showing the location of Ursinus College, with nearby dining facilities:

I discovered that Ursinus has an historic organ (hey, you could probably get Don Knuth to come and give a lecture!) and that there's a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier club in Collegeville.

As we will see below, the Web is even being used seriously in mathematics and its teaching.

Mathematics underlies the Web
Naturally, a lot of mathematics goes into the Web, too. Paul Davis' very interesting theme essay for Mathematics Awareness Week is a good place to start. Other interesting examples include Using hyperbolic geometry to visualize the Web.

Some of the Internet hardware even knows some mathematics. For example, Alantec has a multi-port bridge/router supporting 12 segments that understands the Spanning Tree Algorithm [FAQ from Usenet group comp.dcom.lans.ethernet].

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Gene Klotz