Girls’ Angle Bulletin, Volume 8, Number 1

blog_103114_01The electronic version of the latest issue of the Girls’ Angle Bulletin is now available on our website.

This time, we’re leaving it up to readers to guess what our latest cover represents.

This past summer, Girls’ Angle program assistant Margo Dawes traveled to New York City to interview Cathleen Morawetz, Professor Emerita at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Science at New York University.

Last year, Professor Jennifer Roberts, the Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, wrote an essay for Harvard Magazine about “creating opportunities for students to engage in deceleration, patience, and immersive attention.” Inspired by that essay, and recognizing that this could be a valuable exercise in mathematics as well, we attempt to give you such opportunities in mathematics with our new column, Meditate to the Math.  Our first installment features the 9-point circle. Instead of reading about the 9-point circle, we encourage readers to find a comfortable, quiet place, and contemplate a geometric figure. We hope this will be a way to take part in the process of mathematical discovery.

GABv08n01_EandJ_g01Next, follow Emily and Jasmine as they contemplate 5-pointed stars. If any of our members or subscribers have an exciting story of mathematical discovery of their own, we welcome you to tell us about it!

This issue’s Learn by Doing addresses quadratic residues. Last Summer’s batch of Summer Fun Problem sets included one on quadratic reciprocity by Cailan Li.  But before quadratic reciprocity, there are lots of things to say about quadratic residues.  We explore some of those neat properties here.

blog_083114_01Last issue, Anna made a neat discovery about stereographic projection and paraboloids of revolution. As often happens with mathematical theorems, the first proof is messy and then spiffier proofs are found later. In this issue’s Anna’s Math Journal, Anna finds a much nicer proof and then applies the result to describe a few more observations about paraboloids of revolution.

While contemplating paraboloids of revolution, Anna also came upon a way to understand the radical axis of two circles. This observation seemed more convenient to write an article on because she came to this understanding without writing anything down. She explains in Seeing the Radical Axis. Lightning Factorial supplements her article by briefly defining the radical axis for readers not yet familiar with the concept.

A few weeks ago at the Girls’ Angle club, some members helped to simplify Lunga Lee’s excessively long descriptions of various functions. You can try your hand at this in Function Madness.

GABv08n01_realAlgVar_g02Also inside are another installment of Math In Your World, some exercises about real algebraic varieties (to follow-up on Dr. Zamaere’s introduction of them in her interview in the previous issue), and some notes from the club, which include a summary of Emily Pittore’s recent visit.  Emily is a robotic vision engineer from iRobot, the maker of the Roomba vacuum cleaner.

We hope you enjoy it!

Finally, a reminder: when you subscribe to the Girls’ Angle Bulletin, you’re not just getting a subscription to a magazine. You are also gaining access to the Girls’ Angle mentors.  We urge all subscribers and members to write us with your math questions or anything else in the Bulletin or having to do with mathematics in general. We will respond. We want you to get active and do mathematics. Parts of the Bulletin are written to induce you to wonder and respond with more questions. Don’t let those questions fade away and become forgotten. Send them to us!

We continue to encourage people to subscribe to our print version, so we have removed some content from the electronic version.  Subscriptions are a great way to support Girls’ Angle while getting something concrete back in return.  We hope you subscribe!

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Multiplication Sculptures and Sums of Cubes

A 15 by 15 multiplication sculpture built by Jane Kostick.

A 15 by 15 multiplication sculpture built by Jane Kostick.

Take a multiplication table and build a column of cubes over each entry. For each column, use as many cubes as the product it sits upon. The result is a “multiplication sculpture” or “multiplication tower.” The picture shows a 15 by 15 multiplication sculpture built by Jane Kostick in 2008. For more examples, check out Maria Droujkova’s photo collection at moebius noodles.

Last spring, club members at Girls’ Angle built a 4 by 4 version out of cubes that were 3 inches on a side. They thought about its properties, such as how many cubes make up an N by N multiplication sculpture.

We’re going to address this last question and end up with a nice, concrete proof of a famous algebraic identity.

Over the xy entry, there are xy cubes, so we have to add up all products xy where x and y range over the values from 1 to N, and this totals

(1+2+3+\dots+N)^2 = (\frac{N(N+1)}{2})^2.

Wait! Where else does that expression occur?

It is also the sum of the first N (positive) perfect cubes! In math notation,

1^3 + 2^3 + 3^3 + \dots + N^3 = (\frac{N(N+1)}{2})^2.

The implication is that the number of cubes sitting over the last row and column of the multiplication table must be N^3. If we can show this directly, we’d have a nice, concrete proof of the sum of cubes formula.

The columns of cubes over the last row of the multiplication table form a staircase with steps of height N. Saw these N columns off and get a flat, staircase-shaped plank, N cubes long and N^2 cubes high. Next, saw off the columns of cubes over the last column (of the multiplication table). You’ll get an almost identical staircase-shaped plank. The only difference is that the last step of total height N^2 is gone because it was removed when the columns over the last row (of the multiplication table) were sawed off.

Turn one of these planks over, and the two planks will fit together perfectly to form an N by N^2 rectangle, and an N by N^2 rectangle has N^3 cubes in it!

Thus, a secret key to the identity

1^3+2^3+3^3+\dots+N^3 = (\frac{N(N+1)}{2})^2

is hidden in plain sight in the multiplication table that many of us learned in elementary school!

To read about how Jane made this 15 by 15 multiplication sculpture, and see hints about more of its properties, check out the December, 2008 issue of the Girls’ Angle Bulletin, pages 12-14 and 25-28.

 

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Girls’ Angle Bulletin, Volume 7, Number 6

blog_083114_01The electronic version of the latest issue of the Girls’ Angle Bulletin is now available on our website.

The cover illustrates a neat result that Anna B. discovered and explains in this issue’s Anna’s Math Journal. She continued her investigation of paraboloids and discovered that orthogonal projection from a paraboloid coincides with the composition of stereographic projection and a special map M inspired by the optical properties of a paraboloid. For details, check out her column!

We also feature an interview with University of Minnesota assistant professor of mathematics Christine Berkesch Zamaere.

Next, Akamai Technologies computer scientist Kate Jenkins concludes her discussion of algorithms that find the “maximal subsequence” of a sequence.  Were you able to figure out an algorithm that determines the maximum subsequence of N numbers using O(N) computations? Kate’s article is just one example of how mathematics applies to problems in industry. In the past decades, so much information has been digitized, including books, pictures, video, weather, architectural plans, music, etc. Where there are numbers, there is the potential for mathematical analysis.

Emily and Jasmine return, this time designing star patterns for different numbers of states. We received positive feedback about their last project where they designed a stained glass window (see Volume 7, Number 4), so we plan to feature them more in the future. The two show how, with a bit of inquisitiveness, there’s mathematics.

We conclude with solutions to this summer’s batch of Summer Fun problem sets. Incidentally, if we had more room, we would have liked to include one more problem in the Summer Fun problem set on permutations. That problem set ended with a result of Zolotarev connecting the signs of certain permutations to the theory of squares modulo p, where p is a prime number. With more room, we’d have outlined Zolotarev’s proof of quadratic reciprocity using permutations. This proof is “just around the corner” from the material in the permutation problem set and Cailan’s Summer Fun problem set on quadratic reciprocity. As a challenge, you could try to reconstruct Zolotarev’s beautiful proof. Here’s a hint: The idea is to take a deck of pq playing cards, where p and q are distinct odd prime numbers. Consider the following 3 arrangements of the cards into a p by q rectangle:

Arrangement 1: Deal the cards out row by row, from left to right.

Arrangement 2: Deal the cards out column by column, from top to bottom.

Arrangement 3: Deal the cards out going along a NW-SE diagonal, with wraparound.

Consider the permutations defined in going from arrangement 1 to 2, from 2 to 3, and from 3 to 1.

Prof. Jerry Shurman of Reed College has written up a beautiful presentation of Zolotarev’s proof.

We hope you enjoy our latest issue!

Finally, a reminder: when you subscribe to the Girls’ Angle Bulletin, you’re not just getting a subscription to a magazine. You are also gaining access to the Girls’ Angle mentors.  We urge all subscribers and members to write us with your math questions or anything else in the Bulletin or having to do with mathematics in general. We will respond. We want you to get active and do mathematics. Parts of the Bulletin are written to induce you to wonder and respond with more questions. Don’t let those questions fade away and become forgotten. Send them to us!

We continue to encourage people to subscribe to our print version, so we have removed some content from the electronic version.  Subscriptions are a great way to support Girls’ Angle while getting something concrete back in return.  We hope you subscribe!

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Marion Walter’s Theorem Via Mass Points

I recently had the good fortune of learning Marion Walter’s theorem from Marion Walter herself:

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Marion Walter’s Theorem: In a triangle, draw line segments from each vertex to the trisection points on the opposite side. The six drawn line segments will form the edges of a central hexagon. The ratio of the area of the hexagon to that of the whole triangle is 1/10.

An efficient way to prove Marion Walter’s theorem is to use mass points.

In this post, I’ll give details because the proof is a model example of the mass points technique. If you’re having difficulty learning the technique, I hope this post will help it all come together for you. As always, try to use mass points to prove the theorem yourself, and, only after you have tried, read on. If you’ve never heard of mass points before, google it or check out Volume 7, Number 3 of the Girls’ Angle Bulletin.

Spoiler Alert! Proof Below!

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Girls’ Angle Bulletin, Volume 7, Number 5

blog_063014_01The electronic version of the latest issue of the Girls’ Angle Bulletin is now available on our website.

A paraboloid of revolution adorns the cover. Anna investigates cross sections of paraboloids in this issue’s Anna’s Math Journal. It sure feels like Anna is embarking on an interesting mathematical journey with this new topic. We hope you’ll be inspired to follow-up on her work.

However, first up is the concluding half of our interview with University of Oregon Professor Emerita Marie Vitulli. Read some of the ways she thinks gender bias in mathematics can be countered.

Next, Akamai Technologies computer scientist Kate Jenkins discusses algorithms that find the “maximal subsequence” of a sequence.  Her first part closes with an interesting challenge. Can you find a solution to her challenge before she gives it in the next issue?

blog_063014_02Brit Valeria Golosov presents a fictional account of how she imagines that Brahmagupta derived his famous formula for the area of a cyclic quadrilateral. Valeria is entering her final year of secondary school in London.

This issue’s Math In Your World was specifically requested by Vida John. We love receiving content requests from members and subscribers. This Bulletin is written for members and subscribers and members and subscribers are welcome to control Bulletin content by emailing us comments and suggestions.  Please don’t be shy about emailing us about anything to do with math! We also welcome and encourage all members and subscribers to send in solutions to the Summer Fun problem sets. We might even publish your solution in the Bulletin.

blog_063014_03This summer’s batch of Summer Fun problem sets address magic squares, mass points, quadratic reciprocity, and permutations. Contributors include Johnny Tang and Cailan Li, both recent high school graduates who will be heading to college this coming fall. The central theme of Volume 7, Number 3 of the Bulletin was the concept of center of mass which underlies the technique of mass points. In that issue, we didn’t have enough room to include many problems to practice the technique. So that’s one reason why we included a problem set on mass points. The problems range from introductory level to some that will hopefully entertain those experienced in the technique. Cailan’s problem set takes readers from the rudiments of modular arithmetic all the way through a proof of Gauss’s Law of Quadratic Reciprocity, following a proof by D. H. Lehmer. The set on permutations culminates with a result of Zolotarev that links signs of certain permutations to the Legendre symbol introduced in Cailan’s problem set.

To whet your appetite, suppose AB, and C are the angle of a triangle. Can you prove that

9 > 3 + 2(\cos 2A + \cos 2B + \cos 2C) \ge 0

with equality if and only if the triangle is equilateral? For a spiffy way to prove this, check out the Summer Fun problem sets!

We conclude with a brief account of a wonderful field trip we took to MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, which was generously organized by Professor Karen Willcox,

We hope you enjoy it!

Finally, a reminder: when you subscribe to the Girls’ Angle Bulletin, you’re not just getting a subscription to a magazine. You are also gaining access to the Girls’ Angle mentors.  We urge all subscribers and members to write us with your math questions or anything else in the Bulletin or having to do with mathematics in general. We will respond. We want you to get active and do mathematics. Parts of the Bulletin are written to induce you to wonder and respond with more questions. Don’t let those questions fade away and become forgotten. Send them to us!

We continue to encourage people to subscribe to our print version, so we have removed some content from the electronic version.  Subscriptions are a great way to support Girls’ Angle while getting something concrete back in return.  We hope you subscribe!

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Cubes in one-point perspective

This post is a reply to Jamie’s comment on Drawn to Math:

Would anyone know how to construct a cube in one point perspective?

This is an excellent question because it isolates an important, simplified situation that enables one to study key aspects of perspective drawing.

(If you are completely new to perspective drawing, I’d suggest working through the Summer Fun problem set on pages 21-22 of the June, 2013 issue of the Girls’ Angle Bulletin.)

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Girls’ Angle Bulletin, Volume 7, Number 4

Cover of Volume 7, Number 4The electronic version of the latest issue of the Girls’ Angle Bulletin is now available on our website.

The cover features a planar configuration by Leah Berman, associate professor of mathematics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  There are 240 lines and 240 points arranged so that each line contains 6 of the 240 points and each point sits on 6 of the 240 lines. More images of planar configurations by Leah and Nadine Alise can be found in Mathematical Buffet.

This issue’s interview is with University of Oregon Professor Emerita Marie Vitulli.  In this first part of a 2 part interview, we learn about Prof. Vitulli’s field and how she got into mathematics.

GABv07n04_TMoore_01Special thanks to Professor Emeritus Thomas Moore for contributing a problem about Pythagorean triples.  If you haven’t heard of Pythagorean triples, Prof. Moore gives a brief introduction and more challenges in Pythagorean Triples Challenge.

 

GABv07n04_angledglass_12Angles pervade much of this issue.  In Learn By Doing, Addie Summer covers the basic of angle measure.  Then, Lightning Factorial follows Emily and Jasmine as they use angles to design a stained glass window.  Finally, in this issue’s Math In Your World, I write about one of John and Jane Kostick’s latest creations, which they dub the Quintetra Assembly. blog_043014_02 To compute the necessary angles needed to create a wood sculpture for this amazing polyhedron, several angles must be computed.  In this article, I sketch how to determine these angles and include a net, courtesy of the Kosticks, for Jane’s Quintetra block, 30 of which can be used to build a model of the Quintetra Assembly.

Finally, Anna continues her investigation of x to the x.

We hope you enjoy it!

Finally, a reminder: when you subscribe to the Girls’ Angle Bulletin, you’re not just getting a subscription to a magazine. You are also gaining access to the Girls’ Angle mentors.  We urge all subscribers and members to write us with your math questions or anything else in the Bulletin or having to do with mathematics in general. We will respond. We want you to get active and do mathematics. Parts of the Bulletin are written to induce you to wonder and respond with more questions. Don’t let those questions fade away and become forgotten. Send them to us!

We continue to encourage people to subscribe to our print version, so we have removed some content from the electronic version.  Subscriptions are a great way to support Girls’ Angle while getting something concrete back in return.  We hope you subscribe!

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