Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Doomsday Rule

     My recently posted mention of Tristian Bangert's poem about John Horton Conway (1937-2020) sent me looking through my files for materials related to Conway's visit to Pennsylvania's Bloomsburg University in 1993.  During that visit, Conway entertained students with his explanation of the Doomsday Rule -- for calculating the day-of-the-week that corresponds to a particular date -- and I tried to capture his message (a lengthy one) in the following stanzas:

On What Day of the Week Were You Born?   

by JoAnne Growney

These lines were inspired by John H. Conway's presentation, "Calendar Calisthenics and Calculations," at Bloomsburg University on January 26, 1993.

A man that I met
named Conway, said "Why?"
should the hard be hard
when the hard can be easy
with just a bit of effort.    

Monday, December 28, 2020

Geometry Personalities

 When a triangle talks to a square, what does she say?

Among my favorites of mathy poems are poems by Guillevic (1907-1997) -- in which the poet gives personalities to mathematical objects -- and many of these are available in Geometries, Englished by Richard Sieburth, Ugly Duckling Presse Ltd., Brooklyn, NY; 2010.

Here, from the August, 1970 issue of Poetry Magazine is Guillevic's "Parallels" -- one of four of his poems translated from French by Teo Savory and  published there.

Searching this blog for previous connections to work by Guillevic 
leads to this link to a list of posts.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Counting Syllables for Christmas

     As I look ahead toward Christmas, I shape my thoughts into words with syllable-counts that match the Fibonacci numbers.

Holiday musing from JoAnne Growney


Monday, December 21, 2020

Admiring John Conway with stories of numbers

     Recently I was contacted by Thomas Barr, Director of Programs at the American Mathematical Society who told me of poetry written by a student from Flagstaff, AZ; Tristian Bangert of Coconino Community College has written about the discovery by John Horton Conway (1937-2020) of the surreal numbers -- and I offer part of his poem below; contact information for the poet is offered at the end of this post:

from Conway     by Tristian Bangert

     There once was a man
     Who knew naught but numbers
     Joined by their presence
     The numbers, wondering
     "Where has your kind been? 
     Have you not wondered who was here before you?"  

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Proofs in Poems -- the Sylow Theorems

     One of my valuable resources during this year 2020 has been the AMS PAGE A DAY CALENDAR by Evelyn Lamb -- published by the American Mathematical Society.
     Today, December 16, Lamb's calendar celebrates a collection of poems by British software engineer Patrick Stevens -- verses that together offer poetic proof of the Sylow theorems about the subgroups of a finite group.
     Here is a link to Stevens' collection of  "Slightly silly Sylow pseudo-sonnets" and these are the opening lines:

        Suppose we have a finite group called G.
        This group has size m times a power of p.
        We choose m to have coprimality:
        the power of p's the biggest we can see.
       . . .

Monday, December 14, 2020

Solving problems -- crimes and mathematics

     In childhood I loved novels that featured the girl-detective, Nancy Drew, and in adulthood I have continued to enjoy crime-solving fiction -- and have supposed that this is connected to my love of mathematics.  Recent news of the death of spy novelist John Le Carre (1931--December 12, 2020)  has stimulated my thinking about problem solvers and has led to this Fib:

        seek --  
        and find --
        truth that hides 
        in common views of  
        available information.

As you may already know, a "Fib" is a 6-line poem whose syllable counts match the first six Fibonacci numbers:  1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8.  This link leads to additional Fibonacci-poetry connections.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

How should a professor groom for math class?

     One of the rewards of many new endeavors is making new friends -- and one of the special connections I have made through math-poetry endeavors is Gregory Coxson, an engineering professor at the US Naval Academy.  Greg has frequently alerted me to new mathy poems and, this fall, he sent me an interesting poem that he had written, a thoughtful comment on looking beyond appearances to what is more important. 

My PDE Professor    by Gregory Coxson

He sometimes wore those marine corps sweaters
  The ones in army green, that look the best
On more triangular figures than his.
  And then those ridiculous epaulets
How did his wife let him out of the house?    

Monday, December 7, 2020

Gatherings of a retired teacher . . .

David Pleacher is a retired mathematics teacher who has maintained a math page on the Internet since 1998 -- and one of his rich and varied collections of resources includes mathy poems and songs, some by him and some by other authors.  Here are two samples:

by David Pleacher, found here

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Celebrate Math Women . . . Write about them!!

     This message is a follow-up to a posting made on October 12 -- an announcement of the Student Essay Contest sponsored by the Association for Women in Mathematics and (as I have newly learned today) Math for America.

     Students in three categories -- middle school, high school, and undergraduate -- are invited to interview a math-woman and to write and submit a biographical essay that celebrates that woman.  The submission period for essays opened yesterday (12/1/2020) and continues until February 1, 2021.  Full details are available at this link.


For more, here is a link to the results of a blog search using "women" and "mathematics".