Lots of Fun Math Papers

In the course of looking up a link for my last blog entry, I discovered the MAA Writing Awards site, which collects many pdfs of articles that have won MAA writing awards.  From browsing it a bit, it seems to be a goldmine of fun math articles.

Non-Rigorous Arguments 1: Two Formulas For e

I’m a big fan of non-rigorous arguments, especially in calculus and analysis. I think there should be a book cataloging all the beautiful, morally-true-but-not-actually-true proofs that mathematicians have advanced, but until that time I’ll try to at least catalog a few of them on my blog. This first one is Euler’s original argument for the […]

Almost a Number-Theoretic Miracle

An arithmetic statement is one made up of quantifiers “,” “,” the logical connectives “and,” “or,” “not”, function symbols , , constants , , and variables which are bound by the aforementioned quantifiers. It is known that there is no algorithm which will decide whether or not an arithmetic statement is true or not. This […]

Set Theory and Weather Prediction

Here’s a puzzle: You and Bob are going to play a game which has the following steps. Bob thinks of some function (it’s arbitrary: it doesn’t have to be continuous or anything). You pick an . Bob reveals to you the table of values of his function on every input except the one you specified […]

Making Money Disappear Through Infinite Iteration

In Joel David Hamkin’s paper Supertasks and Computation, he relates the following puzzle: Suppose that you have a countable infinity of dollar bills, and one day you meet the devil, who offers you the following bargain: In the first half minute from now, the devil will give you two dollar bills, and take one from […]

What do We Have to Know About a Function in Order to Compute its Definite Integral?

Suppose that is a continuous function from to and that we have a program which computes it. (Ignore for now exactly what it means to “compute” a real-valued function of the reals. Suffice it to say that almost every natural continuous function you come across is computable). If we want to compute , say to […]