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Volume 22, Number 28

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 July 14, 2017                                  Vol. 22, No. 28


  Barefoot Math | Mathematical Enchantments | Lockhart's Latest


                          BAREFOOT MATH

 Last month, Jim Propp launched a YouTube channel of "low-tech
 videos about cool, accessible mathematics," with an
 accompanying site of moderated discussions:


 The channel opens with a series of clips that focuses on "Swine
 in a Line," a game invented by the professor at the University
 of Massachusetts. Swine in a Line starts with nine pigs and a
 row of nine pigpens. Players take turns putting pigs into pens
 until every last pen has exactly one pig in it. The player who
 put in the last pig wins.

 But as the first video explains, "something interesting
 happens" in between:


 Propp has just posted a video of tips for how one could find
 the solution to Swine in a Line. In yesterday's segment, he
 emphasizes that "how one solves a puzzle is at least as
 important as what the solution is." Along the way, he touches
 on at least three strategies familiar to Problem of the
 Week subscribers:

    - solve a simpler problem
    - work backwards
    - look at cases




 Two summers ago, Propp observed "that math, in addition to
 being the way I earn my living, is something even more
 important for my happiness: it's a consolation for living in a
 world without magic."

 Since then, on the seventeenth of (nearly) every month, he has
 blogged with a stated goal of reawakening in his readers "a
 childlike relationship to the subject."

 Propp's Mathematical Enchantment posts have included--

    - The Lessons of a Square-Wheeled Trike;
    - How To Be Wrong;
    - When Not to Expect What You're Expecting;
    - Believe It, Then Don't: Toward a Pedagogy of Discomfort;
    - Bertrand's Ballot Problem;
    - Reading, Writing, and Rigor; and
    - Will '17 be the Year of the Pig?


                        LOCKHART'S LATEST


 Fifteen years ago, Paul Lockhart stirred up math education with
 his critique "A Mathematician's Lament," still freely available
 to download from the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).

 This coming Monday, Lockhart's newest book comes out.

 According to "Arithmetic" publishers Harvard University Press,
 the research mathematician-turned-teacher presents the subject
 as "an elegant intellectual craft that arises from our desire
 to count, add to, take away from, divide up, and multiply
 quantities of important things."


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