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mathematics

from grandfather

Life — June 2017

I can remember my father Hansen taking me to the Sydney university Coop bookshop (then in the Transient building) and buying me a proper Hewlett-Packard scientific calculator. That was over thirty years ago — I'm not sure exactly when, but it must have been before I started uni — but the calculator still works perfectly (and I think I've only had to change the battery once). more

teaching mathematics

Books + Ideas — March 2016

I was planning a rant about the dangers of formal assessment of mathematics in primary schools, the insanity of streaming maths classes based on knowledge of times tables at age nine, and suchlike. But there are more than enough depressing stories about the UK education system at the moment, so I've tried to make this a more positive piece, about some of the things I think children should learn about mathematics in primary school, along with a random collection of ideas for actual teaching. more

Three

Life — February 2016

Our little girl (she was "a big little girl" for a while, but now insists she is "a big girl") has turned three and moved up to pre-school. The room change was a bit stressful for the first week, but she seems to have settled ok now, I think largely because her best friends have all moved with her. more

fractal generations

Books + Ideas — July 2015

An illustration of how deeply the concept of fractals has entered into popular culture is that it makes an appearance in the song "Let it go" from the film Frozen, in the line "My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around". So Helen was trying to sing the word at two! more

Herbert Gintis on general equilibrium and inclusive fitness

Books + Ideas — October 2014

Oxford draws some great visiting speakers and last week I made it to two lectures by Herbert Gintis, who I knew from his recent book with Sam Bowles, A Cooperative Species. The first talk was a look at General Equilibrium in economics, arguing for an approach with private prices and adaptive expectations and presenting the results from some agent-based modelling. The second was a salvo in the debate about how all-embracing inclusive fitness theory is in explaining evolutionary adaptation. more

teaching small cardinal numbers to a toddler

Books + Ideas — July 2014

I occasionally play at teaching Helen the cardinal numbers one to five, not in any organised fashion but every so often when she seems alert and curious and there are no more obviously interesting things for her to play with more

climate science in the Andrew Wiles building

Books + Ideas — March 2014

On Friday I made my first visit to the Mathematical Institute's shiny new Andrew Wiles building (on the old Radcliffe Infirmary site). The occasion was a talk by Thomas Stocker, co-chair of the IPCC AR5 Working Group 1, presenting an overview of their recently published report (that's the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's The Physical Science Basis). more

the road not taken

Books + Ideas, Moving — September 2010

Being in Oxford has made me think about one of the turning points in my life, which came when I finished my undergraduate degree. more

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