Sagetex Basics: Factoring Quadratics

I've added another worksheet to the Sagetex Basics page on factoring quadratics. This worksheet creates 10 random quadratics on the first two pages. The line

while r1 == -r2:
r2 = Integer(randint(-10,10))

prevents any quadratic from being factorable by the difference of squares formula. If you want to allow quadratics of the form x^2-a^2 then comment those 2 lines out.

The variables outputP and outputA are the strings that contain the text for the Problems and for the output, respectively. This avoids having multiple sagesilent environments and allows a loop to take care of the repetition. The answers are printed out on the third page:

Here are some stories that caught my eye:

  • Oregon man fined $500 for using math to challenge red light cameras: "Mats Järlström learned this first-hand last year when the state of Oregon fined him $500 for publicly suggesting that yellow lights should last for slightly longer to accommodate cars making right turns....."
  • ZeroHedge with a post "Intellectual Intolerance - Stunning Speech From Stanford University Provost Exposes "The Threat From Within"" which says, "...But I’m actually more worried about the threat from within. Over the years, I have watched a growing intolerance at universities in this country – not intolerance along racial or ethnic or gender lines – there, we have made laudable progress. Rather, a kind of intellectual intolerance, a political one-sidedness, that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for. It manifests itself in many ways: in the intellectual monocultures that have taken over certain disciplines; in the demands to disinvite speakers and outlaw groups whose views we find offensive; in constant calls for the university itself to take political stands. We decry certain news outlets as echo chambers, while we fail to notice the echo chamber we’ve built around ourselves.""
  • Listverse has "10 Strange Facts About Pythagoras: Mathematician and Cult Leader"
  • Orrazz with a piece "There Are 5,000 Janitors in the U.S. with PhDs"
  • Shame on the AMS for hosting a racist piece on their website. The post "Get Out of the Way" drew enough comments to get the comments section closed. I suspect that had the comments been praise they'd have kept it open. The criticism isn't too surprising with an opening like this: "Not to alarm you, but I probably want you to quit your job, or at least take a demotion. Statistically speaking, you are probably taking up room that should go to someone else. If you are a white cis man (meaning you identify as male and you were assigned male at birth) you almost certainly should resign from your position of power. That’s right, please quit. Too difficult? Well, as a first step, at least get off your hiring committee, your curriculum committee, and make sure you’re replaced by a woman of color or trans person. Don’t have any in your department?  HOW SHOCKING....What can universities do? Well, that’s easier. Stop hiring white cis men (except as needed to get/retain people who are not white cis men) until the problem goes away. If you think this is a bad or un-serious idea, your sexism/racism/transphobia is showing. It is worth considering your complaints. Are you worried it’s unfair to men? Are you concerned the quality if your institution would plummet? Are you worried about all the brilliant minds you’d be missing? List your reasons and ask yourself which ones you’d value over your own freedom. Women are not free, and even our allies tend to only want us equal-ish. As long as we get there on their terms, as long as they lose nothing.If you are on a hiring committee, and you are looking at applicants and you see a stellar white male applicant, think long and hard about whether your department needs another white man. You are not hiring a researching robot who will output papers from a dark closet. You are hiring an educator, a role model, a spokesperson, an advisor, a committee person. When you hire a non-marginalized person, you are not just supporting this one applicant whom you like, you are rewarding a person who has been rewarded his whole life. You are justifying the system that makes his application look so good. You are not innocent. You are perpetuating a system that requires your participation if not your consent. When your female students of color have no role models in your department, that’s not “meritocracy”; that’s on you. Again, if you think the “great mathematicians” are disproportionately male because of meritocracy, then your sexism is showing...Not to alarm you, but statistically speaking you are the problem. Your very presence. I can’t tell you what is the best strategy for you to stop blocking my path. I can just ask that you please get out of my way." Absolutely disgusting. Could you imagine the furor and screams of racism if "white cis males" was replaced with some other ethnic group? Some of comments are interesting, in particular Math Colleague who notes "We are all painfully aware of the inequalities in faculty composition and trying hard to fix it. *Every* math department I know of is trying really hard to hire every qualified minority and female applicant out there (and by qualified I mean: a *very* generous ballpark within the hiring range of each department). The real problem is that there are not enough such candidates, and most departments end up making offers to the same few that are available in the market each year.". Math Colleague's explanation jibes with everything I saw in graduate school as well as out in the world where a woman and/or minority is highly sought after even when they are the weaker candidate. I know some minorities who were given a chance and were grateful for it.. Math Colleague sums up with "And all I can say is that if you did not get a tenure-track offer already, it is because you didn’t apply to enough places. If you what you want is a job at a top research institution, then you’ll need to prove that you are in the ‘generous ballpark’ of the research level you aspire to. I’ll be blunt: you have no grants, one publication, and the one paper is co-authored with your advisor. Write more papers, and we will hire you.You have great potential to make a difference for minorities and women in mathematics. Come up with a reasonable plan to help minorities, and NSF will fund it. But this post is unnecessarily destructive, discriminatory, inflammatory, and counterproductive to our inclusion efforts.". With a little more digging you'll find Piper on another blog where she says "They asked how many years spent on coursework (3), how many years spent on dissertation (10).  TEN YEARS?! WHAT KIND OF PERSON SPENDS TEN YEARS ON ONE DOCUMENT AND STILL HAS TO BUILD UP COURAGE TO DISCUSS IT OPENLY?... Oh, am I here because of Affirmative Action? Oh, am I here because I’m a woman? Oh, am I here because of a mistake? Okay, haha, I get it. Oh, do my friends think I took the spot of someone who deserved it more? That’s okay. It’s okay if my friends think that. Then there was the actual math. Funny story, I was exceptionally behind my peers when I got to Princeton. I’m tired of talking about it. I should have made myself a Tshirt that said “I only took 7 math classes before coming here, and my peers took 20 – 30, so that’s great.”". These comments appear to demonstrate she understands, at least to some degree, that she didn't get into Princeton for purely academic measurements-- she was "exceptionally behind" her peers. Princeton gets geniuses like Terry Tao if they want so there is lots of reason to suspect affirmative action has given her a chance. This, combined with 10 years work on a thesis which has led to one paper isn't awe inspiring. So Piper has gotten a chance to go to a prestigious university but that isn't enough. Remember the quote: "Stop hiring white cis men (except as needed to get/retain people who are not white cis men) until the problem goes away. If you think this is a bad or un-serious idea, your sexism/racism/transphobia is showing". Again, substitute any minority in for white cis male and ask yourself how that sounds. That would be grounds for someone losing their job; do you think it will happen to her? I don't. Or how about, "You are not hiring a researching robot who will output papers from a dark closet. You are hiring an educator, a role model, a spokesperson, an advisor, a committee person." Actually, the schools are trying to hire people qualified in math and producing research is part of the job description but regardless, white cis males are not incapable of being  a role models, spokespersons, advisors, and all the rest, are they? Contrast this Piper's situation with the piece above at Orazz with 5,000 PhDs working as janitors--I suspect they would be jealous of the chances she is getting. Piper's been given a chance that many lots of people haven't gotten and, invariably that means some have been the victims of reverse discrimination. Again, shame on the AMS post for hosting a piece that dismisses other people on the basis of being white males and white females, because "Remember having white cis women run the world is no kind of solution.". You can read a little more about Piper and her thesis by going to her blog.
  • The College Fix reports "After black student activists issued a demand list to American University in response to the racist-banana incident two weeks ago, the administration agreed to three demands.One of them is a ban on whites using a new “student lounge” for the rest of the spring semester."

SageTex: Relabeling the Vertices

If you use Sage to generate graphs you'll find there are times when the vertices aren't labelled the way you expect them or want them to be:

In this case the graph is the line graph of a complete graph on 5 vertices, so labelling the vertices with 2-tuples makes sense--the vertex (0,2) would correspond to the edge (in K_5) from vertex 0 to vertex 2. but the "None" part of each label is annoying, to say the least. And that has created an additional problem of vertices which are too big. Luckily Sage has the ability to relabel vertices. In this case, I'm going to relabel using the vertices as just 2-tuples corresponding to vertices in K_5 of {1,2,3,4,5} to get:

The relevant part of the code is

g = graphs.CompleteGraph(m)
H= g.line_graph().complement()
H.relabel([(i,j) for i in range(1,m+1) for j in range(i+1,m+1)])

The first line creates the complete graph on m, equal to 5, vertices. The second line uses Sage's knowledge of graphs to create the line graph of K_5. The line

H.relabel([(i,j) for i in range(1,m+1) for j in range(i+1,m+1)])

generates the desired labels and as a result the vertices are not so huge. The code for the figure above can be found on the Graph Theory, Sage, LaTeX page.

Here are some stories that caught my eye.

  • A new math series has launched on PBS: NOVA calls it Inifinte Secrets. And yes, the woman waves her hands a lot.
  • President elect Donald Trump has picked Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. She is anti Common Core. KHOU has 5 things you should know about her.
  • Gallup pats themselves on the back for accurately predicting the results of the presidential election. They've also given some excuses to explain the failure at the local level: "State polls typically have smaller sample sizes, have more variable quality depending on what organization conducts the poll, are estimating an outcome that can shift more readily because the population is smaller, are often conducted further away from Election Day and are more dependent on precision in estimates of turnout by geography...To the degree that organizations want to predict the Electoral College, they are going to have to find ways to finance or encourage larger-sample, higher-quality state polls, rather than relying on the haphazard polls that happen to be conducted in the various states..". So an "F" performance by most everyone's count but their's. And notice the certainty of the predictions were based on "haphazard polls"---never heard that mentioned before they made themselves look like fools.
  • CNBC reports that a partner of ETS, the company that provides security for the SAT, has helped to compromise the SAT: "When the new SAT was given for the first time in March, the owner of the test took unprecedented steps to stop "bad actors" from collecting and circulating material from the all-important college entrance exam. But in the months since, China's largest private education company has been subverting efforts to prevent cheating, Reuters found. The company, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc, has regularly provided items from the tests to clients shortly after the exams are administered. Because material from past SATs is typically reused on later exams, the items New Oriental is distributing could provide test-takers with an unfair advantage....Hundreds of thousands of students enroll in New Oriental's test-prep classes. It has a stock market capitalization of $6.6 billion and a listing on the New York Stock Exchange. New Oriental's founder and executive chairman, Michael Minhong Yu, is a business celebrity in China. Yu's company is also a business partner of Educational Testing Service, or ETS - the New Jersey non-profit that both owns the TOEFL and provides security for the SAT.
  • Reuters on New Oriental hooking up with colleges, too: "Eight former and current New Oriental employees and 17 former Dipont employees told Reuters the firms have engaged in college application fraud, including writing application essays and teacher recommendations, and falsifying high school transcripts. The New Oriental employees said most clients lacked the language skills to write their own essays or personal statements, so counselors wrote them; only the top students did original work. New Oriental and Dipont deny condoning or wittingly engaging in application fraud.".
  • Teachers this generation have a different set of challenges. Sott.net has a piece on "Police believe students may have hatched an "elaborate plot" to frame their teacher for viewing pornography on his computer at school. Investigators cleared a teacher at Longfellow Middle and High School of wrongdoing after students accused him in November of watching a porn video on his school computer in class, Fox 59 reports. "Investigators believe the teacher left a laptop sitting out, and students were able to breach the (Indianapolis Public Schools') firewall and load a porn website onto the computer," according to the news site. "Police say they discovered inconsistencies in the allegation against the teacher," WTHR reports. "They say the students 'may have been involved in an elaborate plot to frame the teacher.'" "
  • RT has the most gripping video footage, courtesy BBC’s ‘Planet Earth 2’ of a lizard being chased by snakes---lots and lots and lots of snakes. This is a video you must see!!
  • RT on teachers getting in trouble for anti-Trump comments. Meanwhile, Reason.com has a piece on all the hate crimes inspired by Trump that turned out to be hoaxes. And college snowflakes are melting down again because of Donald Trump winning the election "The University of Michigan’s distressed students were provided with Play-Doh and coloring books, as they sought comfort and distraction. A University of Michigan professor postponed an exam after many students complained about their “serious stress” over the election results. Cornell University held a campuswide “cry-in,” with officials handing out tissues and hot chocolate. One Cornell student said, “I’m looking into flights back to Bangladesh right now so I can remove myself before Trump repatriates me.” The College Fix reported that “a dorm at the University of Pennsylvania … hosted a post-election ‘Breathing Space’ for students stressed out by election results that included cuddling with cats and a puppy, coloring and crafting, and snacks such as tea and chocolate. The University of Kansas reminded its stressed-out students that therapy dogs, a regular campus feature, were available. An economics professor at Yale University made his midterm exam “optional” in response to “many heartfelt notes from students who are in shock over the election returns.” At Columbia University and its sister college, Barnard, students petitioned their professors to cancel classes and postpone exams because they were fearful for their lives and they couldn’t take an exam while crying....Does a person even belong in college if he cannot handle or tolerate differing opinions? My answer is no.” Unfortunately, that's the coming generation. Wonder how they'll handle the inauguration?!? (spoiler alert: badly)
  • Wearechange.org on "Students at the University of Pennsylvania have decided that William Shakespeare “doesn’t represent a diverse range of writers,” so they ripped his portrait off the wall in the English department. The triggered students replaced the famous playwrights portrait with that of author Audre Lorde, a black lesbian feminist and civil rights activist who is best known for her poetry. While she is absolutely deserving of honor and respect, there are likely plenty of walls for both. The school, instead of punishing the students for vandalism, are rewarding them and caving to their petulant demands.....Campus Reform noted that the school’s code of conduct expressly prohibits students from  “stealing, damaging, defacing, or misusing the property or facilities of the university or of others.” Yet, universities across the nation continue to teach their students, who are primarily adults, that tantrums work. Sadly, they will likely be ill-prepared to deal with the real world where everything isn’t sunshine, rainbows, and getting their way."
  • The challenges of teaching today's darlings: RT has a headline which says it all. "Master bakers: Omaha high-school pranksters trick teacher into swallowing semen frosting". From the article, "Three freshmen thought it would be funny to masturbate into a container and add the fluid to the frosting ingredients, the Omaha World Herald reports.The students’ 59-year-old female teacher then suffered the misfortune of tasting the boys’ finished product. She noticed the turnovers tasted a little funky.Another student later told the teacher that he had heard the culprits talking about their plans to add something salty to the ingredients.The three boys, ages 14 and 15, were questioned by school authorities. Two admitted to their deed, and a third said he had chickened out of the act.Police were called and the boys’ frosting containers seized.“The students will face consequences,” said Brandi Petersen, a spokesperson for Westside High. “We do not tolerate anything of this nature.Sadly, there is no law against adding bodily fluids to food. While the frosting was no doubt an assault on the senses, it doesn’t count as an actual assault as there was no bodily injury."
  • 21st Century Wire hosts a piece asserting "disturbing development at the University of Oregon, whose administration made clear to its faculty last week that if you say things about race, sexual orientation, sex, religion and so on that enough people find offensive, you could get suspended and possibly even fired. This can happen even to tenured faculty members or to anyone else."

SageTex: Polynomial Interpolation 1

FibSeq

Vacation! But before it's time to go I've added a problem to the SageTex: Matrices page. It's not enough to have a lesson on polynomial interpolation like was mentioned earlier so I've put together a problem. Given what starts out as the Fibonacci sequence, students will have to find a polynomial to justify the sequence continuing with a term which breaks the pattern that people think is there.

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

  • The Daily Caller has noted "The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill issued a guide this week which instructs students that Christmas vacations and telling a woman “I love your shoes!” are “microagressions.” The taxpayer-funded guide — entitled “Career corner: Understanding microaggressions” — also identifies golf outings and the words “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” as microagressions...Christmas vacations are a microagression, the public university pontificates, because “academic calendars and encouraged vacations” which “are organized around major religious observances” centralize “the Christian faith” and diminish “non-Christian spiritual rituals and observances.”"
  • NJ1015 with a tragic story, "The 17-year old Robbinsville High School student who fatally ran over this district’s beloved schools superintendent in April was talking on her cell phone at the time of the crash, prosecutors said Thursday.The student, who is now 18 but is not being named by authorities because she was a juvenile at the time of the crash, has been charged with second-degree death by auto and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident resulting in death.She also was ticketed for reckless driving, improper use of a cell phone while driving and leaving the scene of an accident, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office said."
  • ZeroHedge with a piece on Randi Weingarten and teacher unions, "Weingarten instructed investment advisers at the federation's Washington headquarters to sift through financial reports and examine the personal charitable donations of hedge fund managers, focusing on those who want to end defined benefit pensions, and entities backing charter schools and the overhauling of public schools. In early 2013, the union federation published a list of roughly three dozen Wall Street asset managers it says donated to organizations that support causes opposed by the union, and the federation wanted union pension funds to use the list as a reference guide when deciding where to invest (or not invest) their money. Said otherwise, if asset managers don't support unions, the unions won't invest with the funds." You'll have to go to the link to see what happened next.
  • Philly.com with a story that's gotten a lot of coverage, "On June 16, police were called to an unlikely scene: an end-of-the-year class party at the William P. Tatem Elementary School in Collingswood. A third grader had made a comment about the brownies being served to the class. After another student exclaimed that the remark was "racist," the school called the Collingswood Police Department, according to the mother of the boy who made the comment....The boy's father was contacted by Collingswood police later in the day. Police said the incident had been referred to the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency. The student stayed home for his last day of third grade."
  • Campus Reform has a story on "Donald Trump’s campaign slogan is a “racialized, targeted attack” according to Skidmore College’s Bias Response Group (BRG). Three white board messages with the phrase “Make America Great Again” were included in the BRG’s annual report and classified as “written slur[s] or graffiti” because they had been written on the white boards of female faculty of color." These Bias Repsonse Groups provide flimsy cover to assault free speech.
  • WGBH news reports on the Harvey Silvergate's Muzzle Awards for 2016. First place went to Yale over "...a string of events that started with an email about Halloween costumes, Nicholas and Erika Christakis, two well-respected professors at Yale University, resigned their administrative posts as faculty of Silliman College (a dormitory) amid student protests."

Brexit: because statistics isn't really math

A last minute change in my post due to Friday's historic day that wiped out 2 trillion off of the worlds equity markets. The cause? Virtually all the experts predictions were wrong on Brexit: the pollsters got it wrong, the betting line was wrong, and the markets got it wrong-- thank the statisticians for another job well done! CNN reports, "Ahead of the 2012 U.S. elections, Nate Silver, from the website FiveThirtyEight, correctly predicted who would win all 50 states, even as pundits were saying the race was "too close to call." In 2008, he had also correctly projected all but one state. As this year's British election results started trickling in, Silver tweeted that the world "may have a polling problem." "Polls were bad in U.S. midterms, Scottish referendum, Israeli election and now tonight in UK," Silver said....In a commentary on FiveThirtyEight, Silver suggested that forecasters had been overconfident. "Polls, in the UK and in other places around the world, appear to be getting worse as it becomes more challenging to contact a representative sample of voters. That means forecasters need to be accounting for a greater margin of error," he said....Prediction models for the U.S. elections had also become more reliable, Parakilas said, something he didn't believe had happened yet in the UK...." And while they tell you NOW that the models in the UK are less accurate, the Nate Silver that CNN trumpeted as the expert is the same Nate Silver I mentioned here, who performed so badly.

The great thing about statistics is you can explain why you were wrong after you learn that you were wrong. Here are some other explanations floating around as to why the results were so wrong:

  • there was a lot of rain in London and that could impact the turnout of city dwellers who tended to support Bremain.
  • Brexit voters were criticized as racists and not too bright, as all the "experts" came out for Bremain. As a result, Brexit voters were not honest when polled. I think this is a big factor, and a reason why applied statistics is more of an art than science.
  • the inability to predict how many people would turn out to vote
  • Bremain is what the establishment wanted to win so the dissenting voices were minimized. This seems unlikely given how genuinely surprised the establishment was.
  • From Reuters, "Predicting the outcome of Thursday's referendum was harder than that of a national election because there was virtually no historical data to draw on, said David Rothschild, an economist at Microsoft Research. He said pollsters also did not pay enough attention to working class and less educated voters....Rothschild, who also is a fellow at Columbia University’s Applied Statistics Center, said he expected forecasting to improve with a transition from polls using small, random representative samples to large Internet-based ones with rich demographic data. "If I have one million respondents with a large amount demographic data, I should be able to predict outcomes better, or I'm not a very good statistician," he said." OK, but right up to the end statisticians were confident of the result even though many polls were based on only a few thousand people. How representative were the samples they claimed were representative and why were so many experts wrong.
  • Statsblog.com gives their 5 reasons, including "Survey respondents not being a representative sample of potential voters (for whatever reason, Remain voters being more reachable or more likely to respond to the poll, compared to Leave voters)". Hard to argue with the samples not being representative of the whole AFTER you've been proven wrong. But aren't statisticians supposed to be guarding against this happening?

Lots of excuses; of course some or all arguments could be right BUT:

  • From NYTimes, "Britain’s decision to leave the European Union on Thursday was a big surprise. As late as 6 p.m. Eastern in the United States, less than five hours before the results became clear betting markets gave “Remain” an 88 percent chance to win the election, but it wound up losing by four percentage points....One could certainly argue that the polls were “wrong” in the sense that they tended to show a slight Remain advantage heading into the vote count. But it was clearly a distinct possibility that Brexit would win, based on the available survey data. So it’s hard to argue that this was a big polling failure, and it’s a bit strange that the financial markets appear to have been caught completely by surprise." The American Thinker responds to this stupidity,  "Sure it wasn't.  Once you are done rolling around on the floor in laughter at claims that this wasn't a massive polling failure, read on....Not a single one of the well known polling aggregators/predictors picked Brexit in their last-minute final projections...Thus, we had a systematic bias in the aggregated polling data that ranged from 4% to almost 11%.Individual polls leading up to the vote were publishing ridiculous results.  In the week prior to the vote, 9 of the 13 polls predicted a victory for Remain ranging from 1% up to 10%.  Just three polls had Leave in the lead, but just by 1% to 3%– i.e., still below the actual margin of victory – and one poll had a tie.  Not a single individual poll got the result correct, or overpredicted a Leave win....The overall bias in favor of Remain was effectively uniform, which is statistically impossible if the bias was random.  The bias was systematic."
  • In region after region the Brexit numbers were consistently underestimated by several percentage points.

The Telegraph has a lot more analysis with charts and graphs as to what wrong, "Professor Curtice was cautious throughout the campaign, saying that“some of the polls are definitely wrong” in “a cloud of uncertainty”. There were also clear distinctions between phone and online polls - phone polls invariably scored higher results for Remain compared to online." [Comment: Aren't you glad you know this now, after the fact?] "Interestingly, the Leave vote remained constant across both phone and online - it was the “don’t know” score that decreased for phone polls, and Remain seemed to be securing most of these. This was falsely encouraging for the final result. According to YouGov’s analysis, the reduction of don't knows for phone polls was because people were more likely to give an opinion when in conversation with someone, rather than admitting they didn’t know what they thought about such an important choice.Analysts dismissed the idea that different methods would reach different demographics.." So they got it wrong again. But at least their hindsight is 20/20.

Some lessons according to the Washington Post,

  • "First, we did not see this coming. For some weeks now, Stephen Fisher and Rosalind Shorrocks have been tracking referendum forecasts. They consider a wide range of sources, from forecasting models based on polls, to citizen forecasts, to betting markets. None of these methods saw a Leave outcome as the most likely outcome."
  • "Second, this was not a systematic polling failure of the same magnitude as last year’s U.K. general election, where opinion polls badly underestimated the Conservatives’ chance of victory." So the defense is: the failure isn't as bad as when they REALLY messed up last year. That should inspire confidence.
  • "Third, we learned something about campaign dynamics in referendums — and we went wrong by believing too firmly in a claim about how voters decide. Part of the disparity between relatively close polls and relatively confident betting markets was due to the belief in status quo reversion — the idea that undecided voters will be more likely to choose the status quo option (in this case, Remain) than the alternative."
  • "Fourth, given the types of areas that voted to Leave, and given the available polling evidence, it seems likely that a majority of Britons have traded economic benefits for restrictions on people from the European Union coming to live and work in Briton. The areas which voted Leave were older, whiter, and less likely to have a university education."

Another black eye for statistics and statisticians but you can't expect statistics to have the accuracy of mathematics--it isn't math any more than mathematical economics is.

Here are some stories that caught my eye last week:

  • ZeroHedge reports "The percentage of new doctorate recipients without jobs or plans for future study climbed to 39% in 2014, up from 31% in 2009according to a National Science Foundation survey. Those graduating with doctorates in the US climbed 28% in the decade ending in 2014 to an all-time high of 54,070, but the labor market - surprise surprise - has not been able to accommodate that growth. "The supply of PhD's has increased enormously and the demand in the labor market has increased but not nearly as fast. When you can import an international workforce or outsource research, you have a buyer's market" said Michael Teitelbaum, senior adviser to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation."
  • Wow! RT notes "Around one in 10 of the students attending the largest four-year public university system in the US is homeless, while one in five cope with food insecurity, according to a new study by the California State University system."
  • I've got nothing against unions, my issue is against the terrible decisions/policies they (or anyone) support. Case in point. ChicageCBSlocal reports "He crossed the line – the CPS teachers’ one-day strike — out of his love for the classroom. Joseph Ocol stuck with his kids and brought home a chess championship. Tonight, he’s expelled from the union and wonders if he’ll even have a jobCBS 2’s Brad Edwards reports.The union’s decision came via certified mail, in a letter signed by Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.....the CTU said in a statement: “Mr. Ocol has been informed of his member privileges and is talking to us through media, which is unfortunate. All members are well aware of what happens to strike breakers and are informed by their own peers of the process for both suspension and reinstatement. CTU is a democratically led member-organization.”"
  • CounterPunch explains how Common Core helps bust the unions.
  • HeatStreet looks into how colleges are letting students censor speach, "For many students and professors, one of the great appeals of college life is being exposed to new and different ways of thinking. But that age-old process is now under threat at schools around the country. Take the University of Northern Colorado. After two of the school’s professors asked their students to discuss controversial topics and consider opposing viewpoints, they received visits from the school’s Bias Response Team to discuss their teaching style. The professors’ students had reported them, claiming the curriculum constituted bias. These incidents, both in the 2015-2016 academic year, reflect a growing trend in higher education. College students increasingly demand to be shielded from “offensive,” “triggering” or “harmful” language and topics, relying on Bias Response Teams to intervene on their behalf. Such teams are popping up at a growing number of universities....To date, more than 100 U.S. public colleges and universities have established Bias Response Teams."
  • HeatStreet again with "Kayla-Simone McKelvey will serve 90 days in jail, five years of probation and 100 hours of community service for her role in a racially charged hoax threat issued to Kean University students. McKelvey, who is black and the former president of the New Jersey college’s Pan-African Student Union, used a fake Twitter account to send a message threateningto kill a group of black students at an on-campus rally in NovemberThe Twitter account, @Keanuagainstblk, claimed that the anonymous user would “kill all male and female black students” at Kean and issued a bomb threat against the school. The account was quickly suspended from Twitter, but not before causing an uproar on social media. Supporters of #BlackLivesMatter across the country called on the university to take action to protect protesting students, and demanded that Kean President Dawood Farahi resign. They tried to use the threat to demonstrate that Farahi had not done enough to diffuse racial tension on campus....McKelvey told the court she was sorry she issued the threat, and that she still believes her actions helped expose racism on campus...But if McKelvey’s excuse sounds a bit strange, she’s not alone, even at Kean, in thinking that her clearly illegal actions “helped” fellow social justice warriors to bring Kean’s “systemic racism” to light. Some Kean students said that the threat’s author didn’t matter that the threat was still evidence of strong racial bias on campus."
  • LA Times reports that Pat Haden used an educational foundation to enrich himself and his family, "Under Haden's leadership as board chairman, however, the $25-million foundation became a lucrative source of income for him and two of his family members -- even as its scholarship spending plunged to a three-decade low and the size of its endowment stagnated, a Times investigation has found.Haden, his daughter and sister-in-law together collected about $2.4 million from the foundation for part-time roles involving as little as one hour of work per week, according to the foundation’s federal tax returns for 1999 to 2014, the most recent year available. Half of that, about $1.2 million, went to Haden. His annual board fees have been as high as $84,000; the foundation paid him $72,725 in 2014....Many foundations do not pay their board members, philanthropy experts say. The $1.5-billion California Community Foundation, for example, does not pay board members. Foundations that do compensate board members, those experts say, typically pay far less than the amounts received by Haden and his relatives. The $12.5-billion Ford Foundation paid its board chairman about $30,000 less than the Mayr foundation paid Haden in 2014. Mark Hager, an associate professor of philanthropic studies at Arizona State University, said in an email the Mayr payments to the board would be high “even for a foundation that was giving out more than $50 million in grants each year.”“I’ve never heard of fees that large,” said Adam Hirsch, a law professor at the University of San Diego who specializes in trusts."

SageTex: Complex Numbers

Complex1

It's been a very busy week as schools wind down for the year. I've added a new page Sagetex: Complex numbers to the sidebar. I will, of course be adding problems to the page in the coming weeks.

Here are some stories that caught my eye this week:

  • Mathematician Dr. Ken Ono has been written about in Quanta Magazine.
  • Dr. William Stein is leaving academia to start a company around Sagemath. His pdf slideshow can be found on this Reddit thread. He has a talk about this in a video posted here.
  • Ars Technica reports, "Google's DeepMind AI division will face off against humanity's number one Go player, Ke Jie, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua. Ke Jie is currently the top-ranked Go player in the world."
  • DurhamLocalNews has a piece on how "Legislation recommended Wednesday by a Senate committee would require North Carolina schools to offer traditional high-school-level mathematics classes alongside newer “integrated” classes that arrived with Common Core...If the bill were to become law, districts would have to offer both math class sequences to students starting in the 2017-18 school year."
  • Click2Houston tells us a creepy story about a math teacher who enjoys being with kids a little too much: "The video shows Gregg Gustafson wrestling and tickling minors at a student's home when the parents were not around...One of the students told the police Gustafson gave him several wedgies that broke his underwear. The boy said he was wrestling with Gustafson and that he would not let him tap out.The student posted two videos of his broken underwear. Gustafson allegedly asked the boy to get rid of the evidence."
  • Washington Post on the new school report "Many people in education and the workplace don’t think some of the English Language Arts and math standards — which are being used in most states — are what students and workers need to be successful in college and career." One of the findings is that calculators are prevalent in math class. That's exactly what I'm seeing--but you'll see the teacher teaching how to work a problem and then they jump to using a calculator, so that the students quickly forget the skills they were supposed to learn. Whose "best practice" is that? More disturbingly, "There may be disagreement across K-12, college, and workforce about which mathematics topics are important to success in postsecondary STEM coursework and STEM careers. In K-12, there may also be disagreement about when these topics should be introduced in the mathematics curriculum." Shouldn't these issues have been worked out before forcing them upon everyone?
  • Ars Technica with an interesting article on "That ’70s myth—did climate science really call for a “coming ice age?”"
  • EAGNews on how "For a mere $6.5 million, New York City’s School Construction Authority renovated a former clothing store on Fifth Avenue into a “state-of-the-art” facility for 18 students to participate in its new, free pre-K program....The renovations cost the city about $362,222 per pupil, which was about $160,000 per seat more than the next most expensive renovation in Staten Island, for creating partitions, pouring concrete slabs, adding sprinkler systems and HVAC, and other upgrades." It's easy to spend public money.
  • ZeroHedge on the embarrassment that is the new generation. But it's not just America. "In the western world, political correctness is often taken to absolutely ridiculous extremes in attempt to keep people from being exposed to anything that could remotely be considered “offensive”.  For instance, just consider a couple of examples from the United KingdomThis hyper-sensitivity has prompted the University of East Anglia to outlaw sombreros in a Mexican restaurant and caused the National Union of Students to ban clapping as “as it might trigger trauma”, asking youngsters to use “jazz hands” instead. Could you imagine banning clapping? But this is actually happening.  Anything that might make someone feel the least bit “uncomfortable” is now being labeled as a “micro-aggression”, and at schools all over America “safe spaces” are being set up where young people can avoid anyone or anything that may make them “feel uncomfortable, unwelcome or challenged”.And this is not a fringe movement at all.  These “safe spaces” are being established at some of the most prestigious universities in the entire country, and in at least one case a “safe space” included “calming music, cookies, Play-Doh and a video of frolicking puppies”
    At Brown University – like Harvard, one of the eight elite Ivy League universities – the New York Times reported students set up a “safe space” that offered calming music, cookies, Play-Doh and a video of frolicking puppies to help students cope with a discussion on how colleges should handle sexual assault. A Harvard student described in the university newspaper attending a “safe space” complete with “massage circles” that was designed to help students have open conversations.Are you kidding me?...Now that we have defined “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings”, I am going to define a term that I used in the title of this article.

    “Wussification” is the act of turning someone into a “wussy”.  And urbandictionary.com defines “wussy” in the following manner… A person with no guts. A person who whines all day and sits around and cries like a little baby for years over nothing. Will blow anything out of proportion and create drama to forget about their sad miserable lives.If our young people need cookies, Play-Doh and videos of frolicking puppies to deal with the challenges in their lives right now, what in the world are they going to do when the things really start falling apart in America?The real world can be exceedingly cold and cruel, and our young people need to be equipped to handle whatever life will throw at them."

  • RT with the latest on "A breakthrough in the study of a mysterious Hellenistic clockwork device which was found at the bottom of the Aegean Sea more than a century ago has led researchers to conclude it was designed for philosophers to peer into the future.Dubbed the ‘Antikythera mechanism’, after sponge divers hauled the bronze mechanism from a shipwreck off the coast of the Greek island in 1900, the machine has been described as an ancient computer because of its advanced technological design."
  • SOTT has an interesting hour long interview "Stefan Molyneux and Dr. Duke Pesta on the dangers of Common Core"

tkz-graph: more options

Graph3

My confusion over the way to implement graphs in LaTeX prompted an earlier post where I started a Graph Theory, Sage, and LaTeX page. The first post suggested the Normal style for creating a basic graph: it's quick, clean and saves on printer ink. But using tkz-graph and tkz-berge you gives you a lot more control, if you need it. The two packages have enough differences in their approach that I thought a page of templates to serve as a starting point would be useful for me. Graph theory and discrete math, unfortunately, don't have much place in the educational curriculum so I've gone a little bit lighter on the details.

As you can see from the screenshot above we can change various aspects of the graph: the vertex color, the text color in the vertex, the color and thickness of the edges and even add labels. You can download the template and experiment with the code yourself.

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

  • Start with the Detroit teacher strike. Detroit is a poster child for what's wrong with public education. EAGnews has the coverage, "Detroit Federation of Teachers members ditched their students to protest about pay today, despite data that shows they’ve been ineffective at improving the district’s worst-in-the-nation student academic performance....The combined results for students of all grades tested last spring shows a mere 2.9 percent met basic proficiency standards for science, 7.9 percent reached that threshold for math, 8.1 were proficient in Social Studies, and 14.6 met standards in English Language Arts." It's difficult to argue that teachers are professionals when their results are this bad.
  • KOTAnews reports that Wyoming is dropping out of common core. Red Alert News claims that North Dakota is the 9th state to reject Common Core. The Salt Lake Tribune says "On Wednesday afternoon, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Johnson called for the end of SAGE testing in Utah schools.Not to be outdone, Gov. Gary Herbert issued his own call hours later, urging the state school board to abandon both SAGE and Utah's statewide education standards for math and English."Today I am asking the State Board of Education to consider implementing uniquely Utah standards," Herbert said in a letter to the board, "moving beyond the Common Core to a system that is tailored specifically to the needs of our state."".
  • Be careful about doing math in a public place, especially if you seem like a foreigner. SOTT.net on "A woman sitting next to an Ivy League economist told flight crew she had security concerns about the man, after seeing him write in a foreign script. It turned out to be a differential equation.". How stupid have are we?!?
  • The Washington Post has a fascinating article on "Education activists are increasingly becoming concerned about the computer grading of written portions of new Common Core tests....The standard PARCC contract indicates that this year, Pearson would score two-thirds of the students’ writing responses by computers, with only 10 percent of these rechecked by a human being.  In 2017, the contract said, all of PARCC writing samples were to be scored by machine with only 10 percent rechecked by hand...This policy appears to contradict the assurances on the PARCC scoring FAQ page that says,“Writing responses and some mathematics answers that require students to explain their process or their reasoning will be scored by trained people in the first years.”...The Pearson and AIR contracts also promised studies showing the reliability of computer scoring. ...According to Les Perelman, retired director of  a  writing program at MIT and an expert on computer scoring, the PARCC/Pearson study is particularly suspect because its principal authors were the lead developers for the ETS and Pearson scoring programs. Perelman said:  “It is a case of the foxes guarding the hen house.  The people conducting the study have a powerful financial interest in showing that computers can grade papers.”....Indeed, research shows it is easy to game by writing nonsensical long essays with abstruse vocabulary......Unable to analyze meaning, narrative, or argument, computer scoring instead relies on length, grammar, and arcane vocabulary to do assess prose....On April 5, 2016, the same day we sent the letter, Rhode Island Education Commissioner Ken Wagner ...claimed that “the research indicates that the technology can score extended student responses with as much reliability- if not more reliability- than expert trained teacher scores …..”". In an educational system that creates a pathetically weak "standard" of teacher certification that has little to do with quality resulting in most students being unprepared for college even though graduation rates are rising, computer scoring makes perfect sense. Design an algorithm that can be programmed to deliver whatever percentage of good scores you want. It's not really about education, it's who gets the dollars and how to deliver product for as little money as possible.
  • It's not really math, so perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised how badly statistics is doing in predicting the elections. ZeroHedge reports, "How poor have the election forecasters been this year?  It is a topic many are discussing given the large number of upsets we've had during the Primaries.  For example, statistician Nate Silver (who started the campaign season proclaiming Trump had <2% chance of being nominated) by March 1 predicted with 94% probability that Trump would win Alaska (he lost). Silver then predicted on March 8 with >99% probability that Clinton would win Michigan (she lost).  Silver again predicted on May 3 with 90% probability that Clinton would win Indiana (she lost).  But there is another issue besides being wrong, which is how much model flip-flopping is occurring just up to these elections. The most proximate example is Silver stating this past Sunday that Cruz had a 65% chance to win Indiana; the next day (Monday, the eve of the election) and with little new data, he "adjusts" that to Trump having a 69% chance to win!  That's horrible! ". Low level math has you churn out answers supported by work for people to check. In statistics you show your data (which may have been massaged or manipulated) and argue your case. The essence of math is proof, and the nontheoretical statistics we encounter most every day has a high BS content. Statisticians like to claim how good it is "...if it's done right", meaning their way. But when the integrity of the data itself isn't open for inspection, statistics is open to widespread abuse in a way that math can't be.
  • The Hechinger Report addresses the high math failure rates at universities. "A few years ago, administrators at San Diego State noticed high “D-F-W” (grades D and F, and withdraw) rates — 35 to 50 percent — for math courses, according to Michael O’Sullivan, chair of the math and statistics department. In 2014, the newly elected O’Sullivan, along with frustrated faculty, decided to overhaul the program. ....The changes at San Diego State and in other colleges’ math classes are similar to components of the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice...As of this year, San Diego State has implemented all seven pieces, said Michael O’Sullivan. It is too soon to know long-term results, of course, but for now the professors are happy that this semester’s Calculus II midterm grades increased by five to eight percent compared to previous years, according to Ricardo Carretero, professor of applied mathematics."
  • Your funny money is no good here. ABC13 reports, "Now 14, Daneisha was hoping to eat that day's lunch of chicken tenders with her classmates using a $2 bill given to her by her grandmother when she was stopped by the long arm of the law. "I went to the lunch line and they said my $2 bill was fake," Danesiah told Ted Oberg Investigates. "They gave it to the police. Then they sent me to the police office. A police officer said I could be in big trouble."Not just big trouble. Third-degree felony trouble. And that's just one of eight counterfeiting charges investigated against high- and middle-school students at Fort Bend ISD since the 2013-2014 school year....Then the Fort Bend ISD police investigated the $2 bill with the vigor of an episode of Dragnet, even though at that school 82-percent of kids are poor enough to get free or reduced price lunch.The alleged theft of $2 worth of chicken tenders led a campus officer...to the convenience store that gave grandma the $2 bill...... The $2 bill wasn't a fake at all. It was real....The bill so old, dating back to 1953, the school's counterfeit pen didn't work on it...."He brought me my two dollar bill back," Joseph said. He didn't apologize. He should have and the school should have because they pulled Danesiah out of lunch and she didn't eat lunch that day because they took her money.""

SageTeX: First Derivative Test

FirstDerivTest

This week I've added another problem to the SageTeX: Derivatives page. The screenshot is above. Given a polynomial students need to create a table to show when the function is increasing or decreasing. Then they have to determine the local extrema.

Filling out the table makes use of Sage's ability to calculate derivatives. Here's a small snippet of the code. Note the indentation has been lost.

if df(0)>0:
a13 = '+'
a14 = "increasing"
else:
a13 = '-'
a14 = "decreasing"

Depending on whether the derivative is positive or negative we can fill out the chart. And the same logical reasoning that allows you to fill out the chart by hand is the same logical flow that the Python code goes through--but without the errors we humans are prone to make. And of course, recompiling can generate lots and lots of problems with an answer key, faster and more accurately than any human could.

Here are some stories that caught my eye this week:

  • ZeroHedge has the latest on the Chicago Pension Scandal, "Take the example of two union lobbyists who substitute taught for one-day in the public schools and then started collecting over $1 million of lifetime public ‘teacher’ pension payout – despite a state law expressly designed to stop them. And now take all the other 7,499 educators. The retirees in question paid so little into their own retirement (breaking even on their cost basis within the first 20 months of retirement) that taxpayers now face a $900 million bill just to keep the pension payments flowing!...The fraud appears to be focused on the city of Chicago. Some examples:
    • Northern Illinois school districts are driving the majority of $100,000 pensions. In fact, 6,706 pensions for over $800 million in annual payouts were conferred by districts in the Chicago metropolitan suburban area. Only 793 six-figure pensions totaling $95 million in annual payouts were conferred by school districts in the rest of the state. Yet, income-taxpayers across the whole state guarantee the retirement annuities for everyone.
    • The Top 100 All-Time pensions: #1 $302,991 (Lawrence Wyllie at Lincoln-Way CHSD) to #100 $200,812  (Michael Radakovic at Aurora East USD 131). Read the Top 500 All-Time IL teacher pension list.
    • The Top 5 school districts conferring six-figure pensions are Palatine TWP HSD 211, Palatine (449); Township HSD 214, Arlington Heights (419); Consolidated HSD 230, Orland Park (196); Northfield TWP HSD 225, Glenview (188); Maine TWP HSD 207, Park Ridge (180)."
  • You thought hoped her 15 minutes of fame were over. But it isn't--she's baaaack! Melissa Click was interviewed, shamefully enough, by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Reason.com dissects it all: "More:

    While Ms. Click acknowledges that she was certainly frustrated that day, she says she was simply trying to protect the black student protesters. Everything she has come to stand for since the video came out—intolerance, anger, mouthiness, and dismissiveness—is exactly the opposite of who she says she really is. Focusing on her behavior, she says, is a way to take attention away from the demands of Concerned Student 1950, the group of protesters. 

    "I’m not a superhero," Ms. Click says. "I wasn’t in charge." But she’s taken the fall. "When it got out of control," she says, "I was the one held accountable." 

    And not by accident. Click was held accountable because she committed assault. If her behavior is drawing attention away from the student activists, that's entirely her own fault. 

    The Chronicle story also includes some biographical details that uncritically accept Click's I-am-a-hero narrative....Is this the profile of a woman who has overcome great adversity, or the profile of an intolerant ideologue firmly convinced of her own greatness?.....But she doesn't deserve sainthood, either. She did a very bad thing, and her revisionist attempts to explain away her criminal behavior should be rejected. Assault is wrong, even if the person committing it has a minor in women's studies."

  • An article in the Tennessean says, "Police handcuffed multiple students, ages 6 to 11, at a public elementary school in Murfreesboro on Friday, inspiring public outcry and adding fuel to already heightened tensions between law enforcement and communities of color nationwide.The arrests at Hobgood Elementary School occurred after the students were accused of not stopping a fight that happened several days earlier off campus. ....Murfreesboro police didn't say what state law the kids violated, but parents of several of the arrested children say the kids were charged with "criminal responsibility for conduct of another," which according to Tennessee criminal offense code includes incidents when a "person fails to make a reasonable effort to prevent" an offense."
  • NPR reports on the latest report card of public high schools, "This tiny downtick was statistically significant in mathematics, but not for the reading test....NAEP scores are comparable across decades — back to 2005 for math and all the way back to 1993 for reading....According to research by Ho and others, just under 40 percent of students score at college and career ready levels on NAEP....One is that in 2015 the nationwide high school graduation rate was 82 percent, not 40 percent. That leaves a potentially large group of kids who got diplomas but who weren't ready to succeed in college. Who is right: their high schools or NAEP?
    ...On the other hand, he says, "the less-than-charitable view would be that graduation is just a lower standard than college readiness. If you get right down to it, the reading and math required by NAEP, the ACT, the SAT, colleges and careers is much greater than what high schools are saying is sufficient." High schools with dumbed down standards to increase graduation? Shocking!
  • Most of us aren't particularly excellent at what we do, but imagine if we could compete against high school students. We'd look really good then. Vice News continues "A few weeks ago, Jonathan Nicola was the star player on his high school basketball team, with a coach who believed he had a shot at going pro. But now that it's come out that the 17-year-old is actually a 29-year-old man, his ambitions — whatever they may have been — have been put on hold, and he's begging the Canadian government to send him back home to South Sudan."
  • The Huffington Post looks at standardized testing, "Turns out, academic conformity sells, and business is booming: As of 2011, Gaston Caperton, the president of the College Board,nonprofit owner of SAT, was paid $1.3 million. Richard Ferguson, formerexecutive officer of ACT Inc., made roughly $1.1 million. Meanwhile, The National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy at Boston College reported that the value of the standardized testing market was anywhere between $400 million and $700 million........Standardized testing isn’t just about every student meeting the same standards. It is about every student, school, and administrator paying for the same product." So, so true. And public education means there companies have less people to persuade. Give an incentive for those at the top and a lot of money flows to the company. A good article which is worth reading very carefully.
  • Chessbase reports on Fabiano Caruana winning the US Chess Championship. The US Women's Chess Championship was won by Nazi Paikizde after the favorite to win, Irina Krush, had an uncharacteristically bad tournament and the tournament leader, Tatev Abrahamyan, lost the final round. Some very ugly chess by the women but fighting chess that kept me riveted as never knew who would make the final mistake to lose. The tournament was followed by the Ultimate Blitz championship which featured Kasparov, Nakamura, So, and Caruana. Nakamura won, Kasparov was only .5 points behind but the highlight was a So-Kasparov brilliancy. The Chessbase report quotes Yasser Seirawan as saying "Wesley's game against Kasparov will go down in history as one of the greatest blitz games ever played. I will remember that game for the rest of my life." and Kasparov said "It reminded me of games Morphy played against amateurs.". It's that brilliant. Make sure you check out the game at the Chessbase link.
  • It looked like Carlsen was going to easily win the Altibox Norway Chess tounament. A loss in the penultimate round kept the issue in doubt but winning the final round gave Carlsen first place. Chessbase has the story here.
  • The Atlantic looks at "Why would a Teacher Cheat?" I can think of some reasons but back to the article, "The prevalence of test-score manipulation in the United States is well-documented. In fact, with the help of the same researchers who authored the Regents Exams study, The Wall Street Journal in 2011 revealed a significant spike in the number of exams in all the main subjects with scores of 65 points out of 100—the minimum passing grade....There’s good evidence that score manipulation does harm kids, particularly when teachers are falsifying their responses outright for the sake of avoiding sanctions. But there’s also good evidence to suggest that score inflation—teachers grading a bit more leniently, often because they think the student underperformed on the exam—may have positive effects as well. While inflating an individual student’s test score doesn’t magically inject her with more knowledge, the two aforementioned studies indicate it significantly boosts her odds of overcoming an obstacle increasingly critical to future success: high-school graduation." WTF? Schools cheat but hey that may be a good thing because kids graduate. Isn't it obvious that increasing inflating a students grade would increase the chance of their graduating? And, news flash, it's probably likely that some of the inflation is done precisely to get that failing senior out of the school system. But when about 40% of the graduating classes are college ready perhaps high school graduate as an indicator of future success will lose its value as a high school degree is no longer proof that you can read and write. This is an absurd article on a lot of levels. And the nonsense continues, "Indeed, a growing body of international research suggests that the prospect of a raise—or the threat of sanctions—seldom induces teachers to fudge their students’ test scores. Altruistic motivations appear to be at play." And I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. The school system is so broken and most of the people in charge aren't interested in fixing it.
  • Yet another Common Core defector wanna-be: Michigan. Truth in American Education says, "Michigan’s Common Core Repeal Bill just made it over a a major hurdle. The Senate Education Committee voted to pass SB 826, a bill that would repeal Common Core and replace them with Massachusetts pre-Common Core standards."

Altermundus: circle-circle intersections

AlterCC2

I've added information on getting the intersection of 2 circles using the tkz-euclide package. The tkz-euclide package gives a macro \tkzInterCC to find the intersection of 2 circles. As there are multiple ways to input a circle, the macro can be used in different ways.

\tkzInterCC(D,B)(A,C) \tkzGetPoints{M}{N}

finds the intersection of circle centered at D containing point B along with the circle centered at A containing point C. The two intersection points are recovered with \tkzGetPoints macro. Likewise

\tkzInterCC[R](A,1 cm)(B,1 cm) \tkzGetPoints{M1}{N1}

finds the intersection of circle centered at A with radius of 1 cm along with the circle centered at B with radius 1 cm. Note the R option.

You can download the code, with comments, here.

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

  • What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but in Mexico---not so much. RT has a piece on "A prestigious fee-paying school in Mexico has failed to separate twerking from working, allegedly forcing a 24-year-old teacher to resign after she participated in a dance competition while on spring break. The primary school teacher, known only as Clarissa, was in the popular Mexican holiday spot Cabo San Lucas when she decided to channel her inner Miley Cyrus and grind on one of the judges."
  • Listverse has "10 Strange Cold War Tales Left Out Of The History Books"
  • RT on "Flint, Michigan has become the epicenter of the lead water crisis in the United States, but hundreds of schools across the country have tested positive for unsafe lead levels in their water over the past three years, according to a new report."
  • Reuters on "Meet the Thai math prof whose copyright case is headed for SCOTUS – again"
  • Technology review looks at  "A chip that can’t guarantee that every calculation is perfect can still get good results on many problems but needs fewer circuits and burns less energy, he says...A chip that can’t guarantee that every calculation is perfect can still get good results on many problems but needs fewer circuits and burns less energy, he says....In a simulated test using software that tracks objects such as cars in video, Singular’s approach was  capable of processing frames almost 100 times faster than a conventional processor restricted to doing correct math—while using less than 2 percent as much power."
  • The US Chess Championship (closed) has begun. Caruana, Robson, and So are tied for first after 3 rounds of the scheduled 11 rounds. Follow it live here.
  • IndyStar's Russ Pulliam looks at who won common core, and with the number of states using common core down to 21 you get the idea that failure has been achieved.
  • WTHV11 has a report and video on one of those states that has moved away from common core , "In nine days, 85 Arkansas teachers across the state revised 65 percent of the Common Core Math Standards. They hope these revisions turn confusion into a statewide understanding."
  • Wxyz.com looks at the teacher shortage in Detroit, "Two moms want answers. How can it be that in public schools in this country - kids can go months without a math teacher?" Answer: The priority of the system isn't about providing a good education for the kids. If they'd remove the numerous hoops to jump through requiring money and time they'd have plenty of people. Certified does not mean qualified. And many qualified teachers are denied certification. Until they fix the Orwellian double-speak you won't have meaningful change.
  • A cougar in LA might not be uncommon, but a mountain lion at an LA high school is. RT has the the details and video that led to a school lockdown.

Altermundus: Line-Circle Intersections

AlterLC1

I've added some more information to the Altermundus: Circles page. The new information is related to the finding the intersections of circles and lines. The tkz-euclide package has a macro to find the 2 points of intersection that occur when a line crosses a circle. This allows you to make diagrams, such as the one shown above, more quickly. The .tex files of two examples are posted along with comments. You can download them and experiment on your own.

Here are some stories that caught my eye this week:

  • The Verge has wraps up the AlphaGo match, looks at its impact and talks about what is next for AI.
  • Reason.com looks at a bill working its way through the Mississippi legislature that would, "....require teachers to grade parents on how involved they are with their kids' education...According to watchdog.org:

    The legislation, by state Rep. Gregory Holloway (D-Hazlehurst), would mandate a section be added to each child’s report card on which the parents are graded on their responsiveness to communication with teachers, the students’ completion of homework and readiness for tests, and the frequency of absences and tardiness.

    What's more, adds the Parent Herald, parents would also be required to volunteer—an oxymoron at best:

    [P]arents will be required to participate in at least one supportive function for the school. This includes holding position in the Parent Teacher Association, working at concession stands during sports games or helping kids at bus stops.

    ".

  • NPR reports "This week, British professor Andrew Wiles, 62, got prestigious recognition for his feat, winning the Abel Prize from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters for providing a proof for Fermat's Last Theorem....The Abel Prize carries a cash award of 6 million Norwegian kroner — around $715,000 at today's exchange rates. Wiles will formally receive the prize from Crown Prince Haakon of Norway on May 24 in Oslo."
  • The Washington Post reports, "More than 100 education researchers in California have joined in a call for an end to high-stakes testing, saying that there is no “compelling” evidence to support the idea that the Common Core State Standards will improve the quality of education for children or close the achievement gap, and that Common Core assessments lack “validity, reliability and fairness."" Wouldn't it make more sense for experts to determine this prior to spending lots of money to implement Common Core?
  • ZeroHedge posts "Illinois College Will Stop Arresting Students For Passing Out Constitution". With such repressive, unconstitutional conduct by admin, it's not surprising that student behavior is so poor.
  • Quanta magazine with the interesting piece for the week: "Two mathematicians have uncovered a simple, previously unnoticed property of prime numbers...Kannan Soundararajan and Robert Lemke Oliver of Stanford University present both numerical and theoretical evidence that prime numbers repel other would-be primes that end in the same digit, and have varied predilections for being followed by primes ending in the other possible final digits...This conspiracy among prime numbers seems, at first glance, to violate a longstanding assumption in number theory: that prime numbers behave much like random numbers.."
  • The 2016 Candidates matches to determine a challenger for Magnus Carlsen are in the 8th round. After 7 rounds, Karjakin and Aronian are tied for first with 4.5 points. Topolov is in last place with 2 points. With 7 more rounds the tournament is still wide open. You can follow it on ChessBomb (side link). The tournament site is here.

 

LaTeX: Letter template

ClassicLetter

Well, I lost. As I already mentioned, I ran into problems when I moved states. It seems that not having a teacher training program which ended with hours of student teaching was enough deny my application for a regular license, despite the fact that I had 3 years full time teaching experience as a public school teacher. Go figure. And if you knew just how bad some of the certified teachers are in this state (any state) you would understand what a farce the educational system is. From one side of their mouth they say they want qualified STEM teachers but from the other side of their mouth they put up barriers to disqualify them. Want to be qualified according to them then pay some fees and jump through their hoops. But I don't have a lot of patience for this sort of institutionalized stupidity; rather than be classified as a rookie teacher and be forced to pay thousands of dollars to attend hundreds of hours of training on to eventually prepare myself so I'll be officially qualified by this state to teach in a classroom (something I've been doing for years) it's time to give up on being a public school math teacher. That means my job search has been in high gear for the last two months as I write letters--lots of letters-- to apply for jobs. I designed a simple template that you can see in the screenshot above. There is some code that has been commented out to produce a line at the top and the bottom, if you want. I've posted it on the LaTeX page; I call it ClassicLetter as it is inspired by the Classic thesis design.

Here are some stories that caught my eye this week:

  • Tomorrow is Pi Day and CNBC tells us "Want to earn 3.14 years of free pizza from Pizza Hut? All you have to do is answer three math questions. There's a catch. The questions have been devised by famed Princeton mathematics professor John H. Conway and range in difficulty from high school to PhD level....."Pi may be irrational, but free pizza is anything but," Conway, an award winning mathematician, said in a statement. "I'm eager to challenge America with these problems and find the next great pizza-loving mathematician that can solve them.""
  • Opensource.com with an article by Dr William Stein, on Sagemath Cloud in the classroom, "Before SageMath, we were using clunky, expensive, and incomplete tools (like, Mathematica) that were closed source software, so we couldn't see how they worked and modify them to do what we really needed them to do....I wanted SageMath to be a powerful tool for my students. It wasn't initially intended to be something hundred of thousands of people used! But as I began building the project, and as more professors and students started contributing to it, I realized these were problems many others were striving to solve as well....To solve the problem, I created SageMathCloud, a web-based and collaborative way for people to use SageMath and other open source software solutions, like: LaTeX, Jupyter Notebooks, command line terminals, the full scientific Python stack, Java, Julia, Fortran and more....For the first time, teachers can easily use Python and R in their courses, which are industry standard and mainstream open source programming tools...Teachers can also collaborate in real time to manage their online courses with the same cutting edge software used by top mathematicians at the best universities in the world. For the first time, students can use a full suite of open source math-related software programs to learn, experiment, and collaborate with others to improve their skills and gain a better understanding of math." Note there is a video as well.
  • The Daily Beast tells us, "Students at Western Washington University have reached a turning point in their campus’s hxstory. (For one thing, they’re now spelling it with an X—more on that later.) Activists are demanding the creation of a new college dedicated to social justice activism, a student committee to police offensive speech, and culturally segregated living arrangements at the school, which is in Bellingham, up in the very northwest corner of the state....WWU must meet the needs of this new “College of Power and Liberation” by immediately hiring 10 faculty members—subject to the approval of student-activists. Finding the money to do all this is solely the responsibility of WWU’s administration, “whose accountability to students should be expressed through their fervent advocacy for students’ needs at both the local and state levels,” according to the activists, who want an extra $50,000 to throw a kick-off party for the new college....At the heart of this effort lies a bizarrely totalitarian ideology: Student-activists think they have all the answers—everything is settled, and people who dissent are not merely wrong, but actually guilty of something approaching a crime. If they persist in this wrongness, they are perpetuating violence, activists will claim."
  • The latest in educational "research". From Sott.net, "For elementary-aged children, research suggests that studying in class gets superior learning results, while extra schoolwork at home is just . . . extra work. Even in middle school, the relationship between homework and academic success is minimal at best. By the time kids reach high school, homework provides academic benefit, but only in moderation. More than two hours per night is the limit. After that amount, the benefits taper off. "The research is very clear," agrees Etta Kralovec, education professor at the University of Arizona. "There's no benefit at the elementary school level."". 
  • Wisconsin takes the lead in real educational reform. From EAGnews, "On Tuesday Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill during a visit to Brown Deer High School, allowing K-12 school districts to hire vocational education teachers who have not earned traditional teacher licenses, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The teachers can now be awarded “experience-based licenses,” so they can share their knowledge and help guide young people into the workplace....Critics of the legislation, “including the state Department of Public Instruction, the state’s largest teachers union and university schools of education have raised concerns, saying the measure will lower the bar on teacher standards and create an uneven licensing system around the state,” according to the Journal Sentinel. Of course the university schools of education crank out most of the traditional teachers, many of whom join the union. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is led by state Superintendent Tony Evers, a loyal Democrat with strong ties to the union.
    ...Meanwhile, on the most recent Badger Exam, taken by Wisconsin students in grades 3-8 across the state, only 51 percent tested proficient or advanced in reading, and only 44 percent hit the mark in math.They all have conventionally trained teachers, and a lot of them aren’t doing very well at all.Can it really hurt to trying something different, using people with practical experience in their fields who want to share what they’ve learned with youngsters?". This is a great idea. It opens up teaching to private school teachers and adjunct college professors working for poverty level wages and if Wisconsin is reasonably selective as to what experiences it accepts, would increase the quality of teachers. There is no research that shows a teaching certificate means a better teacher and given how badly certified teachers have performed, this reform is long overdue.
  • The NY Times has an article on the tenured professor fired for his views on Sandy Hook: "James F. Tracy, 50, a tenured associate professor of communications at the Boca Raton university, has repeatedly called into question the authenticity of recent mass shootings, including the slaying of churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., and office workers in San Bernardino, Calif. In his blog postings and radio interviews, Mr. Tracy has said the Newtown massacre may have been carried out by “crisis actors” employed by the Obama administration....Florida Atlantic University ultimately dismissed him on grounds that have nothing to do with his theories or his feud with the Pozners. They said Mr. Tracy, who because of his tenure could not be easily fired, had failed to submit paperwork for three years in a row that listed any other jobs or similar activities that he performed outside the university. "
  • Crushed in the first three games of the historic match of AlphaGo versus Lee Se-dol, the Garry Kasparov of the game Go, the human has found a weakness. He managed to win game 4 and has asked for, and received, a change in the match rules. But first, The Verge has an account after Alpha Go defeated Lee Se-dol, "A huge milestone has just been reached in the field of artificial intelligence: AlphaGo, a program developed by Google's DeepMind unit, has defeated legendary Go player Lee Se-dol in the first of five historic matches being held in Seoul, South Korea. Lee resigned after about three and a half hours, with 28 minutes and 28 seconds remaining on his clock. The series is the first time a professional 9-dan Go player has taken on a computer, and Lee is competing for a $1 million prize." The GoGame Guru comments on the computer winning the second game,"After losing the first game of the match to the computer Go player AlphaGo on the previous day — something that the majority of the world’s top players had thought to be practically impossible just months ago — Lee’s play exhibited a sense of calm patience and steadiness, which was not evident the day before. But somehow it wasn’t enough. AlphaGo met Lee’s solid, prudent play with a creativity and flexibility that surprised professional commentators, eventually consolidating its advantage in the endgame.Finally, after a tightly fought contest which left spectators on the edge of their seats, Lee was left with no better move than to resign...Lee Sedol was full of praise for AlphaGo, remarking that, “Yesterday I was surprised, but today, more than that, I’m quite speechless.”He added, “. . . there was not a moment in time where I felt that I was leading the game.”." The LA Times has an article after AlphaGo's second win and the Korean reaction was mixed: "Google DeepMind, he said in a Yonhap News Agency report, was nothing less than guilty of “insulting the 2,600-year history of Go.”...But for the most part, more than bristling over the struggles of their native son, South Koreans have marveled at the proficiency of AlphaGo." KoreaTimes has the most recent piece with Lee Se-dol finally smiling, "Lee said he has seized on the AI’s weaknesses in the game. AlphaGo seemed to feel more difficulties playing with black than white,” he said. “It also revealed some kind of bug when it faced unexpected positions.”...During the post-game interview, the go grandmaster asked the Google DeepMind team if he could play with black stones in the final round. According to Chinese go rules, which this competition follows, the player playing with black stones yields 7.5 compensation points to his opponent at the end of the game for playing first, and thus this considered as a disadvantage.“As I won the game with white stones, I would like to play with black stones because winning with them will be more valuable,” Lee said.
    DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis accepted Lee’s request." With Go essentially conquered, ten years ahead of schedule, what's next: Skynet?!?
  • Corruption or stupidity or something else? IdahoEdNews notes "A report tracking $16.7 million in teacher “leadership premiums” — compiled by the State Department of Education and presented to two legislative committees — is fraught with math errors....The premiums are designed to reward teachers who mentor colleagues, assume hard-to-fill teaching jobs or perform other leadership roles....In some cases, the report contains grossly inaccurate data about district staffing....In nine cases, the report offers no data at all about district or charter leadership premiums. ...The report lists the total amount of premiums awarded by a district or a charter, and the number of teachers who received a premium. ...But in many cases, this math does not line up with the averages listed in the report...In numerous other cases, the report’s math simply doesn’t add up... For example, the West Jefferson School District reported an average premium of $847.55, a maximum of $1,007.48 and a minimum of $850. This is mathematically impossible — and not the only error of this type." Public education means large quantities of money are available for skimming. Who will lose their job over this? Probably nobody? Stay tuned.
  • Sott.net on the horrid state of American education, "The US Department of Education just released the results from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), and they are perilously disappointing....When it comes to basic technological skills like using email, buying and returning items online, using a drop-down menu, naming a file on a computer or sending a text message — Americans rank dead last. But it's not just daily technology tasks that Americans fail at accomplishing, they also scored terribly in math and literacy.
    According to study, Americans with a high school diploma performed about the same as high school dropouts in other countries. So what's the problem? Is it lack of spending in the education department? No. The United States spends more money on education than any other country in the world, yet the average high school graduate can't even compete with dropouts in other countries. In spite of the ever increasing DOE expenditures, US students continue to trail their rivals on international standards tests."
  • The Candidate matches to determine a challenger for the World Chess Championship have begun. The games can be followed here. Unfortunately, you're forced to login to watch the games. You're better of going to ChessBomb--the link is on the sidebar.