Alice in Wonderland and Mathematics

(Originally posted at on March 25, 2010 9:18 AM)

Many people have tried to more fully explain details in Alice in Wonderland (and Through the Looking Glass), most notably Martin Gardner. There are many hidden references to what was happening during the time the books were written: spoofs of popular songs, how languages and dances were taught, comments on society and politics, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s feelings for Alice Pleasance Liddell, and so on.

It now seems that Lewis Carroll has also hidden some references to how he felt about the mathematical advances being made during that time. Helena Pycior (in 1984) and Melanie Bayley (in 2009) have found in Alice what they think are references to Victorian mathematics. Read more about it here.


Perelman Awarded First CMI Millenium Prize

(Originally posted at on March 23, 2010 10:13 AM)

In 2002 and 2003, Grigoriy Perelman posted three preprints on, which are now commonly agreed to provide a proof of the Poincaré Conjecture (pronounced “pwan ka RAY”). (He actually proved a more general conjecture of which the Poincaré Conjecture is a special case.)

In 2006, Perelman was awarded a Fields Medal, which he declined.

Last March 18, 2010, the Clay Mathematics Institute announced that it had awarded its first Millenium Prize to Perelman. (Read more about it here and here.) The prize includes an award of $1 million. Will he also decline this award?

Statistical Tools for Literature and Language Studies

(Originally posted at on March 21, 2010 9:28 AM)

Here are the slides for a seminar-workshop on statistics that I’m giving tomorrow to the faculty members of the Department of Literature and Language Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, Ateneo de Naga University.

In my experience, statistics is best learned using examples from one’s field of study. Admittedly, the slides do not contain as much information as I would like to teach. Unfortunately, as the seminar-workshop is limited to one day only, I am forced to limit my selection of topics to those which I think are most useful to the participants in general.

I hope that the participants will use the understanding and the skills that they learned in this seminar-workshop to better appreciate the research papers that they read and to better describe the results of their own research.

Sphere Packing

(Originally posted at on February 23, 2010 9:00 AM)

There have been many popular articles on sphere packing.  See, for example, Ian Stewart’s A Bundling Fool Beats the Wrap, The Kissing Number, and Proof and Beauty (the middle part), and Simon Singh’s Packing Them In.  I wrote a very short article about Hyperspheres in Hypercubes, targeted at undergraduates.  (It’s just a simple summary of a discussion by Hamming.)

2010 Bicol Mathematics Conference

(Originally posted at on February 8, 2010 10:08 PM)

The third annual Bicol Mathematics Conference was held at the Ateneo de Naga University last Saturday, February 6, 2010. I presented a talk on “Combinatorics on Words” during the afternoon parallel sessions.

Academe Publishing House had a display during the event.