Sinquefield Cup Round 6: SO...Nakamura!

SoNak1

The 6th round of the Sinquefield Cup 2015 finished on Saturday finished with Carlsen and Aronian tied for first. But the news wasn't about the tournament leaders, it was about the So-Nakamura game. The top players in the world have their ratings and rankings for a reason--they're capable of playing inspired chess that the rest of us can only marvel at. Nakamura had a game that was so scintillating, SO..Nakamura (sorry Wesley), it's destined to be make his "Best Games" collection. If you haven't seen it, you can play through the moves below.

Despite the beautiful chess, the position shown after 29. Kg2 had computer analysis finding even stronger, more exact moves. While Nakamura found 29...Be3, which we humans want to give an exclamation mark, the fact is that the computers found a crushing continuation: 29...h3+! 30. Kxh3 Rf2!! leading to many fantastic winning lines. The chess engine I was following had 29...Be3 as -5.68 and 29...h3+ as -13.18.

Here are some stories that caught my eye over the last week:

  • The NY Times has an opinion piece on "Why Vouchers Won't Fix Vegas Schools". The writer's argument seems to be, "Nevada parents do need choices, but far more than these vouchers can provide." ---deny all NV parents choice because not enough choices are provided. Huh?
  • There's been a new addition to CTAN that looks great: the cleanthesis package provides "...a clean, sim­ple, and el­e­gant LATEX style for the­sis doc­u­ments."
  • Think you have the right to free speech? ZeroHedge reports that Rutgers University tells its students they don't. Moreover, at Northwestern University, citing The Chronicle of Higher Education, "Ms. Dreger resigned this week from Northwestern University, where she was a clinical professor of medical humanities and bioethics, a nontenured gig she’d had for the past decade. In her letter, she writes that when she started at Northwestern, the university vigorously defended her academic freedom. Now, she contends, that’s no longer the case." A complicated story to summarize but the conclusion is noteworthy "The idea that institutions must acknowledge wrongdoing is central to Ms. Dreger’s academic work. It’s a theme of her recent book Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science, which takes to task organizations that try to stifle academic freedom or single out scholars for their provocative views.". Freedom of speech is under assault at the college level.
  • Reason.com reports, "Old Dominion University has vowed to punish a fraternity for hanging three banners from a balcony bearing the messages: “Rowdy and fun—hope your baby girl is ready for a good time,” “Freshman daughter drop off,” and “Go ahead and drop mom off too…”." The president of the university announces, "I said at my State of the University address that there is zero tolerance on this campus for sexual assault and sexual harassment. This incident will be reviewed immediately by those on campus empowered to do so. Any student found to have violated the code of conduct will be subject to disciplinary action.". Reason weighs in on the crass display, "ODU is a public university, and is obligated to extend First Amendment rights to its students. I struggle to see how these banners could possibly be classified as anything other than constitutionally-protected speech."
  •  Yahoo News covers the results of some Common Core testin: "Even when all the results are available, it will not be possible to compare student performance across a majority of states, one of Common Core's fundamental goals.What began as an effort to increase transparency and allow parents and school leaders to assess performance nationwide has largely unraveled, chiefly because states are dropping out of the two testing groups and creating their own exams..."The whole idea of Common Core was to bring students and schools under a common definition of what success is," said Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "And Common Core is not going to have that. One of its fundamental arguments has been knocked out from under it."". Maybe next year?
  • merinews informs us that if you're a math teacher then you probably don't like Common Core. The article claims, "....secondary analysis of the data on reactions of teachers collected during in-service teacher trainings on concept learning and pedagogy reveals that the most resistance to change in classroom processes comes from mathematics teachers....The most common plea of the maths teachers was found to be, that by adopting concept and process-based methods the course will not be covered and hence the rule method was the right way of scoring marks in mathematics.".
  • As public backlash against Common Core forced proponents to back down from extolling its benefits to what's-the-problem-they're-only-standards, American Thinker goes a little deeper, "Common Core is about more than just a shift in educational standards.  The architects of Common Core have always planned to integrate computer technology with Common Core standards under the guise of “closing the digital divide” and “preparing our children for the 21st-century workplace.” ....Initially, in order to continue to be eligible for Obama’s “Race to the Top” federal funding, states were obligated to implement a Student Longitudinal Database System (SLDS), used to track students from preschool through college (P20-WIN).  Some of us may recall the many reports about measuring 400 data points.  This is part of SLDS.  Those of us who are paying attention may have assumed that these data points were going to be gathered via the Common Core assessments.  Perhaps some of us assumed that “opting out” or refusing the test would keep us safe.  Not so fast.  Could these one to one devices be another carefully disguised method of software-driven mass surveillance of students?  And in what other ways is data being collected?". An interesting article.

Sagetex: Indefinite Integrals 6/6b

Integral6I've added two more indefinite integrals to the Sagetex: Integrals page. The integrals are of the form $latex \int e^{-\alpha x}\cos(\beta x)\,dx$ and $latex \int e^{-\alpha x}\sin(\beta x)\,dx$ where $latex \alpha, \beta$ are random (positive) integers.

Here are some issues that caught my eye over the last week:

  • Reason.com has an interview with "...filmmaker Ted Balaker who is currently finishing up his latest documentary, "Can We Take A Joke?." The film, which features comedians Gilbert Gottfried, Jim Norton, Lisa Lampanelli, Adam Carolla, Karith Foster, and Penn Jillette, examines the role of comedy in our culture of constant outrage. "Comedians don't even have the freedom of conscience to just be neutral on something," Balaker told Reason TV's Nick Gillespie. "[They] have to affirm what the cool kids believe."". Finally someone taking on the PC zealots.
  • Inofwars has the local news on a Wisconsin school to randomly drug  test the students: "Given that it is actually unconstitutional to randomly drug test students, the school district is using a loophole to do so. Students taking part in extracurricular activities or students who park vehicles on school property will be subject to the random testing.“Participating in extracurriculars, um in public high schools is a privilege and it’s not a right, as well as parking on our school parking lot,” Dorschner explained.Tests will be conducted by randomly picking student identification numbers via computer every fortnight.Should a student test positive, or refuse to be tested, they will be barred from athletic involvement, mandated to attend counseling, and their parents will be alerted. The school says it will not expel any students or involve police."
  • Reason.com on presidential candidate Carly Fiorina's criticism of Common Core. The beginning of its expected prominent place in election topics? She said, "Common Core may have started out as a set of standards, but what it’s turned into is a program that honestly is being overly influenced by companies that have something to gain, testing companies and textbook companies, and it’s becoming a set of standards, not on what a kid has to learn but instead on how a teacher has to teach and how a student should learn, and that kind of standardization is always going to drive achievement down, not up." I couldn't agree more.
  • A new pentagonal tiling has been discovered. See RedOrbit or check out what NPR says, "In other words: It's possible that that there are dozens — hundreds, thousands even — of these convex pentagon shapes waiting to be discovered. Up until last month, only 14 had been found, and for all anyone knew, that list could have been final. But last month, a cluster of computers that Von Derau was using to run though different shapes spit out an intriguing possibility...The three mathematicians had discovered the first new convex pentagon able to tile the plane in some 30 years. The scientists had become a part of a legendary history that dates to 1918, when the German mathematician Karl Reinhardt described the first five types of pentagons to be able to tile the plane."
  • Reason.com again with a story about, "A Minnesota student who had to transfer high schools to avoid an expulsion for an incredibly short, wholly inoffensive Tweet can sue the district for violating his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, a federal judge ruled. The student, Reid Sagehorn, first landed himself in trouble with Elk River School District administrators in January of 2014, according to Education Week. He was asked on an internet message board whether he had made out with a certain 28-year-old teacher at Rogers High School; he tweeted his two-word answer: “actually, yeah.” Sagehorn later claimed that he was joking."
  • Ozy.com with a good piece on Brazil's Artur Avilla, winner of a Field's Medal in mathematics.
  • Raven's guard, football player Dr. John Urschel decides to test his mathematical skills after receiving a concussion: "No word as to how Urschel performed on the math questions, but we're willing to bet pretty well, concussion or not."
  • The Sinquefield Cup, hailed as the highest rated chess tournament in history last year and won by Caruana in historic fashion, has the first round today. It will continue until September 3. Spotskeeda gives a preview. The rounds can be followed live here.

 

Spotlight: Annie Easley

Have you ever heard of Annie Easley before? I recall hearing the name but there was no context as to who she was or what she had accomplished. I'd never taken the time to look into the matter until I recently ran across an article, written back in February, about her which I think deserves special mention. Having the chance to read about her remarkable achievements, however, makes it clear that she would be an excellent personality to spotlight in a math course.  The article is from Engadget and is titled, "Annie Easley helped make modern space flight possible". The first 2 sentences makes it clear how special a person Annie Easley was, "Few people are brilliant enough to be a computer programmer or a mathematician. Even fewer can add "rocket scientist for NASA" to their resume. Annie Easley, however, was all three. During her 34-year career, she worked not only on technologies that led to hybrid vehicles, but also on software that enabled great strides in spaceflight and exploration. And if that wasn't notable enough, Easley also did all of this as one of the first few African-Americans in her field.".Raised by a single mother during a time when schools were racially segregated she was valedictorian of her class and graduated with a major in pharmacy. Her rise to fame started in 1955 when she began working as a "human calculator"  for National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). According to the article, "Easley was only one of about four African-Americans on staff. NACA would eventually become NASA's Lewis Research Center, which then became the John H. Glenn Research Center.

This, as it happens, was a turning point in her career. She went from being a human computer to a math technician (as the department received actual computers to do the calculations). She decided then to pursue mathematics as a degree and attended classes full-time at Cleveland State University while also working full-time at NACA. While other male colleagues had their undergraduate tuition paid for, she had to pay for her courses with her own money.". She continued evolving, learning computer programming to help with her job and, "Her skills were also put to use when NASA was developing software for the Centaur, a high-energy booster rocket that is also known as "America's Workhorse in Space." Utilizing a mix of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, the Centaur proved to be the most powerful upper stage in the US space program.".

Her story is inspirational from so many angles, as a woman, an African-American, being raised by a single mom, and the drive to educate herself. There's also the interesting concept of human calculators, the problems with racial discrimination and,last but not least, her achievements. So if you like to mix math personalities and history into your lessons, make sure you put Annie Easley into your lessons. Besides the article link and Wikipedia link, here are some other links with information about Annie Easely:

There was a mistake in the last post relating to Integral5 for Sagetex problems: the problem itself was missing. I'm still not sure how that got "lost" but I've fixed the problem with an updated file. Thanks to the readers who caught the mistake!

Here are some stories which caught my eye this week:

  • The NY Times has a piece on teacher shortages. As someone who tried to teach in the California public school system only to confronted with about two years of hurdles, I feel confident that the "shortages" wouldn't be so bad if they'd worried about qualifications and not about putting applicants through a bewildering array of BS to meet their definition of "qualified". Remember, when schools talk about a lack of qualified people to teach that's code for a lack of certified people to teach. There is a big difference between qualified and certified.
  • The Atlantic has a good piece on "The Coddling of the American Mind". The term inafantilizing and anti-intellectual is used in describing it. But it really seems more akin to chilling attack on free speech and a lack of tolerance for other opinions. Think McCarthyism. Reason.com has a look at the article and a video interview with "...Northwestern University Professor Laura Kipnis about feminism and emotional fragility on campuses.".
  • Reason.com also looks into Zachary Hammond, the mudered student mentioned in the last post.
  • Sputnik news with a look into how Chicago's budget problems are leading to teacher layoffs. From the article, "Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s former Chief of Staff, has approved the firing of almost 1,500 teachers and staff from the city’s public schools, according to media reports.The firings were revealed when the Chicago public schools system announced its controversial $5.7 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2016 on Monday that includes a $200 million cut in resources, including payments for staff and a $1.1 billion annual deficit, the reports said.The deficit has expanded because of the soaring costs of entitlements and a historic $1.1 billion budget deficit driven by rapidly rising pension payments."
  • LewRockwell.com on "Academic Fascism" in discussing the topic of microaggressions that are getting more and more attention.
  • RT.com notes "A program launched with a $1 million state contract will provide teachers, administrators, and staff in all Arkansas public schools with a “panic button” to quickly notify 911 of an emergency, whether it’s a fire or an active shooter situation. The buttons will be supplied by Rave Mobile Safety, thanks to a $950,000 contract the company signed with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management earlier this summer, the Associated Press reported."Read more here.

Sagetex: Indefinite Integrals 5

Integral5

I've added another indefinite integral to the Sagetex: Integrals page involving tabular integration of $latex \int x^{a}e^{bx} dx$ where $latex 2 \leq a, b \leq 3$. Ideally some arrows would help make the solution a little easier to understand but I wasn't up to spending the extra time needed to implement that change

Here are some stories that caught my eye this past week.

  • A memorable story from the Daily Beast: "The Teen Who Exposed a Professor's Myth" with byline "The Internet has been buzzing about how discrimination against the Irish was a myth. All it took was a high schooler to prove them wrong.". It's staggering to see what passes for scholarship outside of mathematics and the other hard sciences. And, of course, I'm not counting statistics in with math.
  • WAFF in Alabama reports local students will get a choice of when they go to school, "It's time for Madison City students to head back to school Wednesday morning. Some students will be setting their alarms a little earlier than normal this year. That's because students can now take a class that starts earlier than the time school usually starts. For example, they can take a math class at 7:30 a.m. instead of 830 a.m. The program is called "options open.""
  • Seed Magazine has a fascinating article on the connections between prime numbers and quantum physics. "It was a chance meeting between physicist Freeman Dyson and number theorist Hugh Montgomery in 1972, over tea at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, that revealed a stunning new connection in the story of the primes—one that might finally provide a clue about how to navigate Riemann’s landscape. They discovered that if you compare a strip of zeros from Riemann’s critical line to the experimentally recorded energy levels in the nucleus of a large atom like erbium, the 68th atom in the periodic table of elements, the two are uncannily similar...There is an important sequence of numbers called “the moments of the Riemann zeta function.” Although we know abstractly how to define it, mathematicians have had great difficulty explicitly calculating the numbers in the sequence. We have known since the 1920s that the first two numbers are 1 and 2, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that mathematicians conjectured that the third number in the sequence may be 42—a figure greatly significant to those well-versed in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It would also prove to be significant in confirming the connection between primes and quantum physics. Using the connection, Keating and Snaith not only explained why the answer to life, the universe and the third moment of the Riemann zeta function should be 42, but also provided a formula to predict all the numbers in the sequence. Prior to this breakthrough, the evidence for a connection between quantum physics and the primes was based solely on interesting statistical comparisons."
  • Sputnik news on a shocking case that has made a lot of waves, "Two elementary school students from Kentucky were traumatized after a deputy sheriff handcuffed the kids for behavior associated with their learning disabilities, a lawsuit filed on Monday claims." There's video of the shackling for you to judge the case for yourself.
  • In an earlier post I noted Jerry Seinfeld and other comedians who have voiced their displeasure at the ultra-PC nature of today's college campuses. The Atlantic's story "That's Not Funny!" digs deeper into the changing attitudes. Be aware you should, to be safe, read this in your own residence. From the article, "When I attended the convention in Minneapolis in February, I saw ample evidence of the repressive atmosphere that Rock and Seinfeld described, as well as another, not unrelated factor: the infantilization of the American undergraduate, and this character’s evolving status in the world of higher learning—less a student than a consumer, someone whose whims and affectations (political, sexual, pseudo-intellectual) must be constantly supported and championed.".
  • R.T. news on controversial coverage of a recent student who was shot. "After an independent autopsy showed that Zachary Hammond was shot by police from behind, the family of the unarmed South Carolina teen is wondering at the lack of national outrage in this case. Hammond was white...Dubose’s killing has attracted national attention, but Hammond’s was barely noticed. According to the Los Angeles Times, while Dubose’s name was mentioned in over 43,000 tweets between July 26 and August 4, Hammond’s appeared in 289 tweets in the same time period...Bland, the attorney for Hammond’s family, finds the discrepancy “very disturbing.”"An unarmed white teenager whose life is wrongfully taken at the hands of overzealous police is the same and equal to an unarmed black teenager whose life is wrongfully taken at the hands of overzealous police,"he told the LA Times.".
  • R.T. again with a British teenager "inspired " by Columbine and other US shootings. "A British teenager found guilty of plotting a Columbine-style massacre was obsessed with US high school shooters and Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker in “The Dark Knight.” Liam Lyburd, 19, was hours away from carrying out a killing spree at Newcastle College, a further education institution where 18,000 young people study, using a handgun and homemade bombs when police raided his home."
  • The Daily Beast with another article on the idiocy of the language police taking over: "The Bias-Free Language Guide is a massive wall of text that explains why common word choices, phrases, and modifiers are unwelcome in polite discourse. Its purpose is to assist in the creation of “an inclusive learning community” by raising awareness of trivial slights in everyday language that, “for some, feels like a form of violence.” Its authors, UNH Coordinator of Community Equity and Diversity Sylvia Foster among them, intended the guide as tool for molding a more feelings-conscious campus. But if their advice had ever been followed by a significant number of students and faculty members, everyone would have soon found themselves walking on eggshells 100 percent of the time. Some examples are in order. Instead of referring to the elderly as senior citizens (or even as the elderly), members of the UNH community are encouraged to embrace the most up-to-date politically-correct terminology: “people of advanced age” in this case, according to the guide. This is supposed to be somehow less derogatory than “senior citizen,” which of course was once the politically correct of saying “old.” A poor person is not a poor person; he or she (or ze! At least according to the section on gender-queer pronouns) is a “person living at or below the poverty line.” OK, fine. But by the same token, one should say that the rich are “persons of material wealth,” since persons living at or below the poverty line may be rich in character, or spirit, or any number of other things. Fat people are not fat, overweight, or obese; they are “people of size,” a decidedly abstract description. Are all of us not people of size, in some sense?...The guide’s advice is occasionally contradictory. It notes that some of the supposedly derogatory terms are no longer considered derogatory in certain circles. The word “fat,” for instance, “is increasingly being reclaimed by people of size and their allies, yet for some, it is a term that comes from pain.”"

Definite Integrals 3

DefInt3

A light week: I've added another problem on finding the area between 2 curves to the Sagetex: Integrals page and put some of the information from last week's entry (on getting the points used in plotting implicitly) to the Sage Essentials page. Here are some stories which caught my eye over the last week:

  • Propublica, the investigative journalist site--a rare thing in today's environment of junk news-- has an interesting article "Georgia is Segregating Troublesome Kids in Schools Used During Jim Crow". From the article "As ProPublica has documented in a series of stories on the resegregation of America’s schools, hundreds of school districts across the nation have been released from court-enforced integration over the past 15 years. Over that same time period, the number of so-called apartheid schools — schools whose white population is 1 percent or less — has shot up. The achievement gap, greatly narrowed during the height of school desegregation, has widened. “American schools are disturbingly racially segregated, period,” Catherine Lhamon, head of the U.S. Education Department’s civil rights office, said in an October speech. “We are reserving our expectations for our highest rigor level of courses, the courses we know our kids need to be able to be full and productive members of society, but we are reserving them for a class of kids who are white and who are wealthier.”".
  • DNAInfo reports on a teacher who committed suicide after investigators found she forged test answers, "The principal of an elementary school who killed herself the day after her students took the state’s third-grade exams forged test answers after multiple students failed to complete their tests, a city investigation found. The test results have been invalidated. Jeanene Worrell-Breeden, 49, principal of the Teachers College Community School since it opened in 2011, died after jumping in front of a B Train on 135th Street in April, less than 24 hours after the Common Core test, the New York Post first reported. The Office of Special Investigations was looking into the test results after a tipster's email accused Worrell-Breeden of forging answers on the Third Grade English Language Arts exam, according to the DOE."
  • Forbes tells us that education is expected to be a major issue in the upcoming presidential elections. If you've been reading this blog, you already know that.
  •  The LATimes informs us that the "US wins gold at International Math Olympiad for the first time since 1994".
  • The Capital Journal reports that "Due to concerns over the state's dwindling supply of qualified teachers, the South Dakota Board of Education meeting in Pierre Monday adopted a new rule  that would make it easier for middle school teachers to get certified to teach math.". From someone who has seen first hand how qualified teachers are turned away by certification requirements that aren't based on qualifications (here), this is only going to weaken the educational system more. But letting teachers teach without going through the traditional training route is a threat to the teaching colleges.