Thursday, August 29, 2019

Enrich Mathematics Classes with Poems

    In my mathematics classrooms, I have found it a challenge to include the history and spirit of mathematics -- and its people -- along with the math topics to be covered.  Because I love poetry -- and also write some -- I gradually became aware of poems that could enrich my classes and I began to incorporate poetry in outside readings and essay topics and class discussions.

Here are links to poems that introduce the lives of four math-women:
     Sophie Germain (1776-1831)
     Florence Nightingale  (1820-1910)
     Amalie "Emmy" Noether  (1882-1935)
     Grace Murray Hopper (1906 - 1988)
And here is a poem about four influential teachers of mine; three of them math-people; three of them women.

Math Anxiety can be a hard topic for student or teacher to bring up -- but airing of views and healing might come from discussion.  Poems to consider include: 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The personal becomes mathematical -- in poetry

     Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) used counting in her description of love in her sonnet that begins "How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways."  Contemporary artist, poet, and retired math professor Sandra DeLosier Coleman finds relationships a bit more complicated -- and builds her description in the poem below on the square root of two.

       Between You and the Root of Two     by Sandra DeLozier Coleman

       I have less chance of knowing you
       than of writing out the root of two.
       How e're I start, it never ends,
       exploring how love lies, pretends.   

Monday, August 26, 2019

Counting the Women . . .

     Sometimes a professional group or a meeting-agenda or a table of contents contains so few women's names that they are easily counted.  In this syllable-square stanza, I praise the absence of that condition: 

     This stanza and others with similar attitude appear in "Give Her Your Support" -- a poetry-page published recently in Math Horizons.  For the entire collection, follow this link.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Journal of Humanistic Mathematics--a TREASURE

     Online and available FREE, the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics is a wonderful source of poems and stories and articles that connect mathematics to life.  Thanks to editors Mark Huber and Gizem Karaali who lead the effort to bring us new issues each January and July.  Here is a link to the Table of Contents for the July 2019 issue.   Included in this issue is a thoughtful article by Sarah Mayes-Tang entitled "Telling Women's Stories:  A Resource for College Mathematics Instructors" -- and, related to this, here is a link to postings in this blog found using a SEARCH for "mathematics and women and poem."  (Scroll down the list of postings to find individual poems.)
     This current issue of JHM also offers a selection of five poems and also a folder with insightful reflections in both prose and poetry -- "A Life of Equations Shifting to a Life of Words" by Thomas Willemain.

Follow the links.  And enjoy!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Celebrating Paul Erdos

     One of the most interesting and productive mathematicians of all time was Paul Erdos (1913-1996).  He was author of more than 1416 papers, and his name became associated with a labeling process for mathematicians, an idea called the Erdos Number.  A mathematician who co-authored a paper with Erdos could claim Erdos Number 1.  A mathematician who co-authored with a co-author of Erdos had Erdos Number 2.  And so on.  
     Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya (one of the poets at the 2019 Bridges MathArts  Conference) has written a wonderful poem to celebrate Erdos;  I offer below the central stanza of Bonch-Osmolovskaya's poem; the complete poem is available here.

from:   Paul Erdos     by Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya

          he inhaled and exhaled mathematics   

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Poetry and Science

     Originally from Scotland, Alice Major is a celebrated Canadian poet whose work often focuses on key ideas in mathematics and science. (Visit her website for lots of links.)  The following lines of Major's verse appear in the Canadian magazine Prairie Fire (offering Major's presentation in the Anne Szumigalski lecture series entitled "Scansion and Science"); they are taken from Major's latest collection, Welcome to the Anthropocene."  Enjoy this sample, then follow the links and read much more:

 . . . poetry by Alice Major . . .

Also from Welcome to the Anthropocene, Major's poem  "Zero divided by zero" is available at this link here in my blog "Intersections -- Poetry with Mathematics" -- and a blog-search leads to lots more of her work.

Monday, August 5, 2019

A visual poem -- Decision tree

From Norwegian math-poet Mike Naylor, this fascinating visual poem. 
(Thanks, Mike -- from JoAnne Growney -- for permission to post.)

Naylor presented this poem at the 2019 BRIDGES Math-Art conference
More information about the poets and poems for the 2019 BRIDGES Poetry reading is available here.