Spaces upon spaces – topology and slum conditions

I didn’t know anything about topology before I entered graduate school, but I continue to see it as one of the more provocative specialties in mathematics and an important transition of thought. Most definitions of the subject describe it as the study of the properties of objects that are preserved through deformations like stretching and […]

The fluency of geometry

My thoughts started jumping around today, trying to land on what it was that I found so fascinating about a recent article in Quanta Magazine. This is one of the statements that got me going:

…Numbers emerging from one kind of geometric world matched exactly with very different kinds of numbers from a very different […]

Proofs, the mind, and mathematics

A recent article in Quanta Magazine anticipates the publication of the 6th edition of Proofs from The Book, collected by Martin Aigner and Günter Ziegler. The original volume was inspired by the well-known and prolific mathematician Paul Erdős, who traveled the world, participating in countless collaborative efforts, and who would say of proofs that he […]

I spy the confluence of mathematics, psychology, and physics

I find the relationship between mathematics and vision fascinating. Even within mathematics itself, seeing how the geometric expression of ideas can clarify or further develop countless mathematical thoughts is always worth noting – like the graphs of functions, or the projections of figures. I’ve written before about the relationship between the brain’s visual processes and […]

Spaces

I read about the sad passing of Maryam Mirzakhani in July, and the extraordinary trajectory of her career in mathematics. But I did not know much about what she was actually doing. A recent post in Quanta Magazine, with the title: Why Mathematicians Like to Classify Things, caught my attention because the title suggested that […]

“The future of mathematics is more a spiritual discipline…”

I did some following up on the work of Vladimir Voevodsky and for anyone who might ask, “what’s actually going on in mathematics,” Voevodsky’s work adds, perhaps, even more to the mystery. Not that I mind. The mystery emerges from the limitless depths (or heights) of thought that are revealed in mathematical ideas or objects. […]

Finding hidden structure by way of computers

An article in a recent issue of New Scientist highlights the potential partnership between computers and mathematicians. It begins with an account of the use of computers in a proof that would do little, it seems, to provide greater understanding, or greater insight into the content of the idea the proof explores. The computer program […]

Collective behavior: flocks, magnets, neurons and mathematics

The analysis of collective behavior is quickly becoming cross-disciplinary. I wrote a few years ago about a study that analyzed the coordination of starling flocks. That post was based on the work of Thierry Mora and William Bialek, presented in their paper Are Biological Systems Poised at Criticality. The paper was published in the Journal […]

Architecture, orientation and mathematics

Recently, I became intrigued with the discussions of topology that I found among architects and historians of architecture. I saw a few familiar threads running through these discussions – like the emergence and self-organizing principles of biology, together with the view that mathematics was not, primarily, a tool but more a point of view.

I […]

Embodiment and a Philosophy of Mathematics

Yesterday I gave a talk at a symposium at the 36th annual Cognitive Science Conference. The content of the talk was described this way in our symposium proposal:

Mathematics has been the subject of experimental studies in cognitive science that explore the sensory grounding of number and magnitude. But mathematics also provides conceptual schemes that […]