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What we call mathematics

Some thoughts about the subject we call mathematics and how that does - and doesn't - change.

New episode of the Mathematical Objects podcast: PageRank.

Katie and I have a chat about a weird voting system that's secretly hugely important.

I wrote a paper about partially-automated assessment, essentially asking can we get the advantages of automated question-setting without the limitations of automated marking? It's just been published in an issue of International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology.

Unsure how many HE teaching people are on here, but just to say we've published the new issue of MSOR Connections, the second of two special issues containing papers from the CETL-MSOR Conference 2021. Innovative practice in teaching, learning, assessment and support in maths, stats and OR. Read for free here:

Three journal special issues I'm aware of on university mathematics, statistics and OR teaching, learning, assessment, support, etc. during COVID:
- Restarting the new normal
- Takeaways from teaching through a global pandemic
- Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

I'm an editor for one, editorial board for another and ex-editorial board for the third. Are there any others?

Katie Steckles and I have a podcast called Mathematical Objects, which releases a short chat on a mathematical topic fortnightly in seasons of 8 episodes.

Today's episode is "A joke" with special guest Bec Hill. We talk about similarities and differences between maths and jokes.

Hopefully you can find it where you normally find podcasts (let me know if not!) or listen/subscribe/etc. via

I'm used to right-clicking on a MathJax-rendered equation and getting a menu like this, but this doesn't work here. Is that deliberate? Is it something to worry about? @christianp?

Here's a cute idea combining modelling and combinatorics - what if, calculating lottery probabilities, you model the lottery leaving out some possible tickets? Does it change your conclusions? I run through the calculations for ignoring tickets that are all squares, tickets that are all odds, and tickets with a 7.

An incorrect model of the lottery, and when it doesn’t matter

The idea is from Matt Parker on A Problem Squared 032.

There are a bunch of bells and whistles like drawing lines, highlighting cells, writing labels, changing the colours, etc. etc. There's loads of detail in the documentation which can be found on the CTAN page:

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Do you have hexboard installed? You might. To see, make a LaTeX file with \usepackage{hexboard} in the preamble and see if it runs. If you use MiKTeX, it should be that compiling a document that uses the hexboard package will install it for you. If you use TeXLive, you may need to update packages (e.g. `tlmgr install hexboard`).

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We also made an environment to run through a game, with or without numbered pieces showing the order of play. Here the envionment is hexgame or hexgamelabels and moves are \hexmove{row}{column} (the player colour alternates).

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The basic diagram is a hexpicture environment, then a command like \hexboard{11} will render a blank 11x11 game board.

You place pieces with \hexcounter{row}{column}{player} e.g. \hexcounter{b}{1}{A}.

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Do you know the game Hex? Do you use \(\LaTeX\)? Chris Sangwin & I wrote a package for drawing Hex boards and games called hexboard. It makes lovely diagrams like this.

I see people are doing .

I teach university mathematics (modelling, combinatorics, game theory, history, programming) in the UK. I also research university-level educational practice. Recent papers including teaching programming, automated assessment & play and problem-solving:

I'm one of the editors at @aperiodical.

I'm a Vice President of

I co-host a podcast Mathematical Objects with @stecks

Out of spa—

Because a lot of people are talking about Mathstodon on Twitter, I remembered it exists and logged back in (with a little help from @christianp). I continue to like Mathstodon and am happy to be here but generally forgot it exists. Is there a good Mastodon app anyone can recommend? That might make it easier to remember to come here.

@evelynjlamb welcome! I like the idea of here but regularly forget to check it. Your blog post reminded me I'm on here.

@peterrowlett "Quantities" is far too narrow. "Logical structures" maybe.

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