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Buffon's Needling Ants

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Author:Ivars Peterson (MathTrek)
Description: The idea of estimating pi by randomly casting a needle onto an infinite plane ruled with parallel lines was first proposed by the naturalist and mathematician Georges Louis Leclerc Comte de Buffon (1707-1788). In recent years, computer simulations have taken over - with results modulated by quirks of the random number generators involved in the computations. Now it appears that a certain ant species uses a Buffon's needle algorithm to measure the size of potential nest sites. Eamonn B. Mallon and Nigel R. Franks of the Centre for Mathematical Biology at the University of Bath in England report their findings in the April 22 Proceedings of the Royal Society, London (B).

Levels: High School (9-12), College
Languages: English
Resource Types: Articles
Math Topics: Probability, Animal Biology

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