I spent some time with the problem and put together this response here. I know that various online outlets have discussed the answer as well; here are the respective solutions presented by The Guardian and The New York Times (don’t click those links until you think about the problem for yourself). But I think there’s a useful “information” framework to use in considering how to arrive at the answer. I discuss that framework at the end.
Spoiler alert — I’m going to discuss the birthday answer starting in the next paragraph.
Can some simple rounding help us be more accurate and confident with mental math? The man behind this symbol proposes just that: And it turns out it’s fairly accurate: Basically, using some simplification of numbers we can do mental multiplication more accurately (generally). Confused by the squiggles and colors? Don’t be intimidated. Read more: Zequals: the new symbol that will make us all better at sums | … Continue reading Meet Zequals, a mental math tool
I’m struck by how many people will readily disavow their math skills with a single statement of “I’m not a math person.” You’ve heard it many times from friends, or perhaps from yourself. Maybe you’ve excused your way out of situations requiring calculation, geometrical thinking, or ratios. “I’m not a math person” seems like a fine excuse. But what if in a social situation you … Continue reading What is a “math person” anyway?
“Mandelbrot set” may sound like complicated math. But many of us already recognize these sets as “fractals” — a term that Dr. Mandelbrot coined. I remember reading about the Mandelbrot set in college. I didn’t realize at the time that Mandelbrot was still alive. Then as I read the New York Times today I came across his obituary. Turns out he passed away last week. … Continue reading RIP Mandelbrot, Father of Fractals