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Inspired by Math!
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Inspired by Math!

Author: Sol Lederman

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As the blogger at Wild About Math! I get to interview people who are inspired by math and are inspiring others.
43 Episodes
Richard Rusczyk is the founder of the Art of Problem Solving, the premier community for high-performing middle and high school math students in the English-speaking world. I've always been intrigued with the world of math competitions and with what it takes to excel in them. I picked Richard's brain for an hour about competitions and about his company.
Sue VanHattum is very excited about creative ways to look at math. She has compiled and written a number of the chapters in a new book, Playing With Math, which is being produced in a community supported publishing (i.e. crowd funding) model. Listen to Sue's enthusiasm, learn about the book, then reserve your copy at
Lou DiGioia is the executive director of MATHCOUNTS, the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to extracurricular middle school mathematics. Lou and I discuss a number of MATHCOUNTS programs, including the recent National Competition, the National Math Club, and the Math Video Challenge. We discuss who the programs serve, and so much more. And, we do this all with a ton of infectious enthusiasm.
Al Cuoco has taught high school students, trained teachers, and developed curriculum that is really making a difference in math education. He and Joseph Rotman have published a book with the MAA, "Learning Modern Algebra From Early Attempts to Prove Fermat's Last Theorem." Al and I discuss a number of the principles and habits of mathematical thinking that are developed in the book.
David Reimer, author of "Count Like an Egyptian" and I discuss Egyptian computation methods, how kids can learn to do multiplication and division without shedding a tear or memorizing tables, how computers and Egyptians both use the same approach to multiplication, why brilliant mathematicians make better teachers and professors, and much more.
Tim Chartier is a math professor, a mime, and the author of the Princeton University Press book "Math Bytes: Google Bombs, Chocolate-Covered Pi, and Other Cool Bits in Computing." Tim and I talk about his performing career, how he became a mathematician, why the book, his role as Math Ambassador for the MAA, his involvement with the Museum of Mathematics, his next book project, and more.
Chuck Adler is a physics professor and the author of "Wizards, Aliens and Starships," published by Princeton University Press. Chuck and I have a great time talking about lots of implausible science, some plausible science, physics education, Star Trek, my squeamishness with physics, and more.
Colm Mulcahy is a mathematician and mathemagician. He recently published a book: Mathematical Card Magic: Fifty-Two New Effects. Colm was, like many of us, greatly inspired by Martin Gardner and he knew Martin for the last decade of his life and visited with him several times.
Kiki Prottsman is on a mission to get girls (and everyone) interested in computer science. Kiki and I talk about responsible computing, her non-profit Thinkersmith, her background in studying and teaching computer science, various of her other initiatives, and more.
Michelle and Katie are both intimately involved in creating the yearly Moody's Mega Math Challenge together with SIAM, the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics. The three of us chat about the contest, the inspiration behind it, what's involved in its production, what the students go through, and more.
Ken Fan is a PhD mathematician who became very interested in improving math education. He founded an organization, Girls' Angle, to improve the relationship of girls to mathematics. Ken and I discuss a number of topics of interest to both of us in a bit of a looser format than usual for these podcasts. But, ultimately, we both share our love of mathematics and our deep desire to make a difference in the lives of young people.
Lance Fortnow wrote a great book about the P/NP problem for a general audience. We discuss the problem, its importance, its interest to Lance, how difficult it is to solve, what some of the difficult problems are, and a bunch more.
Gili is a 10th grader who is an inspired math community-builder in the Albany Area Math Circle together with Mary, who founded the circle in 2001. The two of them are making a big difference in how kids learn, love, and share math. We talk about math circles, about the importance of community and collaboration, and more.
I interview the mother-daughter team who authored "Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom." We talk about inspiration for writing the book, flaws in mathematical thinking, how justice is derailed by bad math in the courtroom, a number of examples of cases from the book, and more.
Matthew Watkins authored the "Secrets of Creation" trilogy, with illustrator Matt Tweed. The trilogy is amazing. It goes very deep into some very fundamental areas of mathematics. Matthew and I talk about his background, about the trilogy, about his inspiration for creating it, about his concerns of how much of the world relates to math, and much more. A big interest for both of us is the wonder and awe that is math, not the "quantified" experience that most think is all there is to the subject.
Through the math education world Maria has become a wonderful friend. Maria is working tirelessly to start a mass math movement. We discuss her kickstarter project that has authored a book, Moebius Noodles, of advanced math ideas for toddlers and their parents, what math is, what math literacy is, the connection between math and computer programming, her Math Future project, and more.
Jason Ermer has spearheaded the Collaborative Mathematics project at I interview Jason about what the project is, what inspired him, what the response so far has been and what he is hoping to accomplish.
Erica Klarreich has been writing about mathematics and science for a popular audience for more than ten years. We talk about her relationship with math, how she defines the subject, her relationship to it, problems with how math is taught in school, one of her favorite articles, her perception of the outlook for math writers, and more.
Julie Rehmeyer writes about mathematics and science for Science News, Wired, Discover and other magazines. Julie and I discuss a bunch of things. Do you have a story of when you first realized that you really liked math? How did you get into writing about math and science? Have you always been a writer? Tell us about your math education and how that's served your writing career. You've written quite a number of articles for Science News and for Wired Magazine. Where do your ideas for articles come from? And, what's your secret for weaving mathematical ideas into interesting stories? Would you share your process of going from an idea to a completed article? What's the interaction like with the publisher? How long does it take to write an article? What's your writing process like? What's a typical day like? Is there a favorite article or two among the many you've written? I notice that there are very few women math communicators. Why is that? And, which other women should I try to interview for this series? What advice would you give to girls and young women (or really anyone) who think they might want to become math writers? The question I ask everyone: What advice would you give to a parent whose child was struggling with math in school?
Dave Richeson is a mathematician, math professor, and math blogger. He loves topology and geometry among other things. He's taught inquiry-based math which engages students to the n-th degree, he wrote a book for Princeton University Press "Euler's Gem," about Euler's polyhedron formula, he's working on a new book about four classic construction problems, and he's finishing up an article "Who first proved that C/d is a constant?" We discuss all these things on this podcast.
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