‘commentaries’ Category

Informed opinion about something relevant to math, computing, or the MCS dept.

Mathematical Works of Art

The stated mission of Department of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Statistics at Gustavus is “to provide an excellent education in the theoretical, practical, and aesthetic aspects of mathematics, statistics, and computer science to undergraduate students.” No doubt other departments of mathematical sciences also highlight both theory and practice in their mission statements, but there can’t […]

Baltimore Ravens’ Lineman and Mathematician

I came across these great articles on Baltimore Ravens’ offensive lineman John Urschel. Enjoy. From the Baltimore Sun: For math scholar John Urschel of Ravens, playing football adds up From its-intersting.com:  Baltimore Ravens Offensive Lineman John Urschel Publishes Paper In Math Journal

When a Professor Tries to Serve Her Nation

Science Insider reports that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has terminated Valerie Barr after the first of what ought to have been two years as a Program Officer. I know Professor Barr professionally–we are both members of the Liberal Arts Computer Science consortium–and also had the opportunity to talk with her about this strange and […]

Writing Prose and Writing Computer Programs

Joe Lencioni graduated from Gustavus in 2005 summa cum laude with a major in Religion, worked for the College as a software developer, then went on to do the same in the outside world. He’s now written a really nice blog post, aimed at fellow developers, with the thesis that “Writing prose can improve your programs […]

What is “Voluntary Voter ID”?

My professional work lately has focused on “electronic pollbooks” – computer systems used for administrative functions at polling places, such as checking in preregistered voters and processing same-day voter registration applications. In particular, I served this past year on the Minnesota legislature’s bipartisan task force on this topic, to which I was appointed based on […]

Wall Street Journal Asks “Who Needs to Know How to Code”

Enrollments in MCS-177 are up; way up. This Wall Street Journal article explores why there is an increased interest in computer programming, who are the people learning to code, and what are some of the non-traditional institutions satisfying this need.

Faulty Logic or Faulty Logic about Faulty Logic?

Take a look at this MinnPost article by Joel Kramer and the comment on it by Paul Birnberg. The subject matter is Minneapolis’s Ranked Choice Voting tabulation process. Kramer offers a proof sketch that a more efficient process would necessarily give the same results. Birnberg offers a proof sketch that the results of Kramer’s process […]

Cool Mathematical Art at the MIA

I don’t blog much about events that don’t have a direct connection to the department, but I was blown away by a very mathematically-oriented artwork I saw today at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The photo on their web site doesn’t do it any justice. Trever Nicholas‘s Luma is based on the concept of a […]

If Electronic Pollbooks are the Answer, What is the Question?

I had hoped to spend today at the annual conference of the Election Verification Network (EVN) and in particular taking part in a panel on electronic pollbooks. Alas, I was unable to travel and the panel was canceled. However, one of of the other panelists blogged about what he would have said. I’ll post a […]

Urn Problems and the Election

Anyone who has studied discrete probability has run into urns containing balls of varying colors, which are withdrawn according to seemingly arbitrary rules, always ending in the same big question that Jakob Bernoulli’s own students surely posed: Why do we even care? For example, suppose three urns are filled with the following balls. Urn 1: […]