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Richard Elwes
Works at University of Leeds
Attended University of Oxford
Lived in Leeds
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Richard Elwes

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Coming soon

The September 2015 issue of the EMS Newsletter  will be out soon and features an interview with John Nash, given days before his tragic death.
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LMS-EMS Week-end

To celebrate the 150th year of the London Mathematical Society and the 25th year of the European Mathematical Society we are organizing a mathematical weekend, to be held in Birmingham, UK, from Friday September 18th to Sunday 20th, 2015.

Registration closes on 1st September. Click through for the list of speakers, and to register.
Celebrating 150 years of the LMS and 25 years of the EMS. EMS logo. LMS–EMS mathematical weekend. LMS logo. Birmingham, September 18–20, 2015. Home · Speakers · Registration · Past Weekends · Travel · Hotels · Local · Participants · Schedule. To celebrate the 150th year of the London ...
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Contest: Evolutionary Algorithms for Tilings and Patterns

Dr. Günter Bachelier invites you to enter a contest to design an evolutionary algorithm for exploring patterns and tessellations. Registration is open until 1st November, and submissions can be made until 15th January. Click through for more details:

http://de.evo-art.org/index.php?title=Exploring_a_Design_Space_for_Patterns_and_Tilings_Competition_2015
Introduction. The goal of this periodic programming competition is to develop methods that can explore a very general but on the other hand specific design space of patterns and tilings (see DS-definition, Note to pattern), implement those methods and apply them to built alongside a repository ...
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Vi Hart, Andrea Hawksley, Henry Segerman and Marc ten Bosch each independently have long track records of doing crazy, innovative stuff with maths. Together, they’ve made Hypernom.
Vi Hart, Andrea Hawksley, Henry Segerman and Marc ten Bosch each independently have long track records of doing crazy, innovative stuff with maths. Together, they've made Hypernom.
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Read the Masters! Read Abel!

"It appears to me that if one wants to make progress in mathematics one should study the masters and not the pupils."
 - Niels Henrik Abel

"It is as good an idea to read the masters now as it was in Abel's time. The best mathematicians know this and do it all the time. Unfortunately, students of mathematics normally spend their early years ..., and make little or no reference to the primary literature of the subject. The students are left to discover on their own the wisdom of Abel's advice. In this they are being cheated [6, p.105]." - Harold M. Edwards (1981)

These are taken from Otto B. Bekken's article about Abel, in the 2002 Archives of the EMS Newsletter. Page 12 here:
http://www.ems-ph.org/journals/newsletter/pdf/2002-03-43.pdf#page=12
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Okay, but, like, how? I don't know where to find the masters. 
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A message worth repeating: back up your stuff

My iPhone (5c) played a terrifying trick on me a couple of days ago. I was midway though putting something in my diary when the application crashed. So far, so normal. But when I reopened the calendar app, not only had the new appointment not been entered, but everything else had been deleted! Literally my entire diary had been wiped. So far as I could see, nothing else was wrong with the phone - my contacts and so on were still all there.

At that moment of doom, I realised how utterly reliant on this single app I had become - I dispensed with paper diaries years ago. My work and home life were both contained within.

I'm relieved to report that this story has a happy ending - by sheer good luck I had synced and backed up the phone to my computer a week earlier, and was able to restore the phone to that point. All that remained was to think hard about what entries I might have made within the last seven days.

I don't know how this happened - I slightly suspect [update: or not, see comments] a malfunction with the FindMyIphone App, one of whose jobs is to wipe everything if your phone is lost/stolen - but this may be unfounded. Whatever the cause, the moral is clear and worth repeating: back up your stuff regularly! I'm sure most people follow this advice for their big important documents - but don't forget your phone and whatever other small devices you have committed your life.
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It's not just the Apple calendar either. I've seen or heard of it happening with all kinds of online sync solutions including Dropbox. A colleague lost a few days of work on a presentation when a botched Dropbox sync deleted it on both devices.

Don't use a synchronized folder or other data source as your primary storage, is the lesson. Use it for syncing, but make sure your primary source can't be altered by the synchronization.
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Equivalent Fractions and Gender Equality?

Malta has released a new "Learning Outcomes Framework" for school mathematics. It contains a very strange and worrying learning outcome:

"31. I can use equivalent fractions to discuss issues of equality e.g. gender."

In the linked LMS blog, Alexandre Borovik discusses this.
There is also a follow-up here: http://education.lms.ac.uk/2015/08/response-to-malta-new-learning-outcomes-framework/
Malta published the new Learning Outcomes Framework for school mathematics. http://www.schoolslearningoutcomes.edu.mt/en/subjects/mathematics. In my opinion, it is representative of current trends in mathematics education around the world and deserves a wider open discussion.
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This reminds me of +Patrick Honner's concerns about the New York State Regents exams.
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This is a great explanation of why the train is always late, the plane is always too full, and why everyone else has more friends.
The following is a draft of an article I have submitted for publication in CHANCE Magazine, a publication of the American Statistical Association. With their encouragement, I am publishing it here to solicit comments from rea...
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I believe all of those vertices lie in the field Q(zeta_24), where zeta_24 is a primitive 24th root of unity.  
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Personal Reflections on Analysis

The introduction of ‘dictionaries’ between two or more fields can serve as a pole-star, as Sullivan observed for Kleinian Groups and rational dynamics. Don’t forget the Number Theory - Nevanlinna Theory Dictionary, pushed by Vojta. At the same time there is a danger if you allow language to take over without having your feet on the ground. The Bourbakization of mathematics in the 1940s and 1950s led to a mostly unfruitful development within analysis, and serves as an illustration of the pitfalls awaiting a blind approach.

Lennart Carleson and Peter Jones offer some personal, and occasionally provocative, reflections on Analysis in the 2002 Archives of the EMS Newsletter. Page 25 here:
http://www.ems-ph.org/journals/newsletter/pdf/2002-12-46.pdf#page=25
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Learning to Learn from Babies

Babies are fantastically fast and efficient learners. What might the rest of us learn from them? Click through for my latest blog post.
Yesterday, my twin sons turned one. I have spent an amazing number of hours over the last year watching them. I wondered if this experience might teach me something too, about how to learn. After a...
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That bad short-term memory lasts quite a while. When trying to teach my four-year-old daughter to read, I tell her things like "e  e makes ee" or what some unfamiliar combination of letters says, and she can come to the same situation four words later and it will be as though I hadn't told her the information. Though in that case it may have more to do with receptiveness to what her father is saying than with her ability to remember it: perhaps if I said, "o n e spells wun, and in a minute's time if you can tell me what it says I'll give you a piece of chocolate," her memory would improve dramatically.
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"All primes are odd, and 2 is the oddest of them all." 
- JWS Cassels
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A different twist: “2 is the only even prime number. And that's odd.”
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Work
Occupation
Teaches & writes about mathematics
Employment
  • University of Leeds
    Mathematician, present
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Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Previously
Leeds - Oxford - London - Freiburg
Story
Tagline
A UK based maths lecturer & writer.
Introduction
Lives in Yorkshire, writes about Maths.
Bragging rights
Author of Maths 1001 & How to Build a Brain (AKA Mathematics Without The Boring Bits) & some other stuff, mostly on the subject of maths
Education
  • University of Oxford
    Mathematics, 1997 - 2001
  • University of Leeds
    Mathematical logic, 2001 - 2005
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Gender
Male