## Tuesday, July 29, 2014

### Fixing something wrong

If there's something

wrong with the third

act, it's really

in the first act.

This quote from Billy Wilder, Austrian-born writer and film-director (1906-2002), reminds me of a similar observation I have made about my mathematical work -- when a reviewer notes a problem near the end, usually the fix is near the beginning. And so it goes . . .

Labels:
Billy Wilder,
first,
mathematics,
strategy,
third,
wrong

## Sunday, July 27, 2014

### Each equation is a playful catch . . .

A mathematician is probably too close to her subject matter to speak playfully about it -- and thus she, even more than others, appreciates a phrase like "each equation is a playful catch, like bees into a jar," offered by Lisa Rosenberg in the poem below. In "Introduction to Methods of Mathematical Physics," Rosenberg uses a child's anxiety about insects as a way to describe fear of mathematics and offers a smidgen of respect for "those few" who are fearless.

**Introduction to Methods of Mathematical Physics**by Lisa Rosenberg

You must develop a feeling for these symbols

that crawl across a page, for the text overrun

with scorpions. Like those books about insects

you read as a child, scared to touch the magnified photos,

Labels:
equation,
Lisa Rosenberg,
mathematical physics,
mathematics,
playful,
poem,
poetry,
symbol

## Friday, July 25, 2014

### Poems with "equation" in the title

One of the ways to explore this blog is to go to the right hand column and find the instruction,

A few moments ago I did this and entered the word "equation" and found a long list of links, many of the latter ones redundant since they are picking up archive listings of earlier postings. But the early ones can be fun to explore. Here are five of the first six items that the SEARCH BOX produced. And the first two of these links yield poems with "equation" in the title. Enjoy!

**SEARCH**.A few moments ago I did this and entered the word "equation" and found a long list of links, many of the latter ones redundant since they are picking up archive listings of earlier postings. But the early ones can be fun to explore. Here are five of the first six items that the SEARCH BOX produced. And the first two of these links yield poems with "equation" in the title. Enjoy!

Labels:
blog,
equation,
mathematics,
poetry,
search

## Saturday, July 19, 2014

### Mathematicians are not free to say . . .

The poetry of a mathematician is constrained by the definitions she knows from mathematics. Even though all but one of the prime integers is odd, she cannot use the words "prime" and "odd" as if they are interchangeable. She cannot use the words "rectangle" and "box" as synonyms. But the ways that non-math poets dare to engage with math words can be delightful to mathematical ears and eyes. For example:

**The Wasp on the Golden Section**by Katy Didden

Labels:
golden section,
Katy Didden,
mathematics,
odd,
poetry,
prime,
Stephanie Strickland

## Wednesday, July 16, 2014

### Palindromes

Palindromic numbers are not uncommon -- recently (in the July 12 posting) power-of-eleven palindromes are mentioned. Palindromic poems are more difficult to find but see, for example, the postings for October 6, 2010 and October 11, 2010.

At a recent Kensington Row Bookshop poetry reading, Hailey Leithauser revealed that all but one of the poems in her recent collection

*Swoop*(Graywolf Press, 2014) contain a palindrome.And here are a couple of my favorite palindromic phrases:

(the impossible integer)

Never

odd or

even.

odd or

even.

(the mathematician's answer when she is offered cake)

"I prefer pi."

"I prefer pi."

## Saturday, July 12, 2014

### Prove It

After observing that

1 = 1

and 1 + 3 = 4

and 1 + 3 + 5 = 9

and 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 = 16

and 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 + 9 = 25

it seems easy to conclude that, for any positive integer n, the sum of the first n odd integers is n

1 = 1

and 1 + 3 = 4

and 1 + 3 + 5 = 9

and 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 = 16

and 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 + 9 = 25

it seems easy to conclude that, for any positive integer n, the sum of the first n odd integers is n

^{2}.
Labels:
infinite,
integer,
odd,
palindrome,
poem,
power,
proof,
prove,
sum,
William Kloefkorn

## Wednesday, July 9, 2014

### Looking back . . .

I have been visiting my hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania and not finding time to complete a new post -- and so I have looked back. On July 9, 2010 I offered a sonnet by Australian poet Jordie Albiston that begins with these lines:

might do you watch your world turn to

nought put your foot upon the path re

. . .

I invite you to go to the original post and read the rest.

**math (after)****first you get the number-rush as anyone**might do you watch your world turn to

nought put your foot upon the path re

*what cannot be said*I’ve heard before. . .

I invite you to go to the original post and read the rest.

## Sunday, July 6, 2014

### Poetry as Pure Mathematics

A recent email from Portuguese mathematician-poet F J "Francisco" Craveiro
de Carvalho brought a 40-year-old stanza to my attention. First published in the May, 1974 issue of

Whatever you add you add at your peril.

It is far better to subtract. In poetry,

Multiplication borders on madness.

Division is the mistress we agree to sleep with.

*POETRY**Magazine*, we have these enigmatic lines by William Virgil Davis. Enjoy!**The Science of Numbers: Or Poetry as Pure Mathematics**Whatever you add you add at your peril.

It is far better to subtract. In poetry,

Multiplication borders on madness.

Division is the mistress we agree to sleep with.

## Thursday, July 3, 2014

### Mathematician and Poet

Should I do it? Should I do a blog post on a novel by Brazilian poet Hilda Hilst (1930-2004) that I have begun to read but don't yet know how to understand?

Hilst's novel,

from

The cross on my brow

The facts of what I was

Of what I will be:

I was born a mathematician, a magician

I was born a poet.

Hilst's novel,

*With My Dog-Eyes*, newly translated by Adam Morris (Melville House, 2014), attracted my attention because its narrator is a mathematician and a poet. Here are the lines with which the novel begins:from

**With My Dog-Eyes**by Hilda HilstThe cross on my brow

The facts of what I was

Of what I will be:

I was born a mathematician, a magician

I was born a poet.

Labels:
Adam Morris,
Bertrand Russell,
Hilda Hilst,
magician,
mathematician,
poet

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