Sometime in May 1936, Alan Turing sighed with satisfaction as he finished his paper “On Computable Numbers”, which is now famous as the start of computer science (though the first electronic computer was not built until 1943). Take a deep breath. How likely is it that you inhale an atom which was also in Turing’s sigh? Continue reading

# Monthly Archives: November 2014

# Report on 25 November fortnightly prize question

Sharif Quansah, Mugisha Uwiragiye, and Hamse Adam all got this at least mostly right.

**A maths teacher has 30 students in her class, and 30 chairs in the classroom. How many possible seating plans does she have?** Continue reading

# “I want to study engineering”

The website i-want-to-study-engineering.org/ bills itself as “A website to help you compete for engineering places at top universities”.

It is a collection (with answers) of problems you might be set at a university interview. Apart from their value in interview preparation, the problems are also interesting. Continue reading

# Video clip on Maryam Mirzakhani

Click here. Thanks to my daughter Daisy for passing this on. It’s actually not true that you have to be a genius to understand Riemann surfaces, but the transcript reads a bit garbled. Continue reading

# A film about a mathematician: “The Imitation Game”

The new Hollywood blockbuster film about the mathematician Alan Turing is well-made, covers an interesting true story, and is shaped to promote some valid and important ideas. Continue reading

# FP1 test paper, mark scheme, and worked answers for 21 November 2014

# How to solve cubic equations

In FP1 we study how to get two more roots of a cubic equation if we are given one in advance. But life is not always so generous. How do we solve a cubic if we’re given no root in advance? Continue reading

# Test paper and mark scheme for S2, 18 November 2014

# Which distribution fits which random variable?

A curve, or a function, or a range of values of a variable, is discrete if it has gaps in it – it jumps from one value to another. In practice in S2 discrete variables are variables which only have whole-number values, like number of heads when you toss a coin, or number of goals in a football season. Continue reading