Monday, 26 July 2010

Caution With Numbers

With someone like Art DeVany so long at the helm, it was only a matter of time before 'Paleo' was subject to an outbreak of Mathematics.  Denise Minger and The China Study have opened up a whole swathe of interest in statistics that is really great to see.  Who'd have thought that having prised open nutrition, biology, anthropology and various branches of medical research, such an abstract discipline would be next on the list?

Continuing on from my earlier theme of maths books you really should read, I would like to add "1089 And All That" to the list.  This is a great read, much in the vein of "The Most Beautiful Mathematical Formulas: An Entertaining Look at the Most Insightful, Useful and Quirky Theorems of All Time".  And from it, I would like to offer this little anecdote:
  • "[an] astronomer, a physicist and a mathematician ...were on a train journey together in Scotland.  Glancing from the window they observed a black sheep in the middle of a field.
      'How interesting!' said the astronomer.  'All Scottish sheep are black!'
      The physicist, rather startled, said: 'Surely you mean some Scottish sheep are black?'
    But the mathematician viewed even this as a bit rash.  'I think what you both mean,' he said, 'is that there is at least one sheep in Scotland which is black on at least one side.'"
Let's hope that similar caution is applied to the results of TCS!

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