Some Mathematics Things I Read On Twitter


I had thought I’d culled some more pieces from my Twitter and other mathematics-writing-reading the last couple weeks and I’m not sure where it all went. I think I might be baffled by the repostings of things on Quanta Magazine (which has a lot of good mathematics articles, but not, like, a 3,000-word piece every day, and they showcase their archive just as anyone ought).

So, here, first.

It reviews Kim Plofker’s 2008 text Mathematics In India, a subject that I both know is important — I love to teach with historic context included — and something that I very much bluff my way through. I mean, I do research things I expect I’ll mention, but I don’t learn enough of the big picture and a determined questioner could prove how fragile my knowledge was. So Plofker’s book should go on my reading list at least.

These are lecture notes about analysis. In the 19th century mathematicians tried to tighten up exactly what we meant by things like “functions” and “limits” and “integrals” and “numbers” and all that. It was a lot of good solid argument, and a lot of surprising, intuition-defying results. This isn’t something that a lay reader’s likely to appreciate, and I’m sorry for that, but if you do know the difference between Riemann and Lebesgue integrals the notes are likely to help.

And this, Daniel Grieser and Svenja Maronna’s Hearing The Shape Of A Triangle, follows up on a classic mathematics paper, Mark Kac’s Can One Hear The Shape Of A Drum? This is part of a class of problems in which you try to reconstruct what kinds of things can produce a signal. It turns out to be impossible to perfectly say what shape and material of a drum produced a certain sound of a drum. But. A triangle — the instrument, that is, but also the shape — has a simpler structure. Could we go from the way a triangle sounds to knowing what it looks like?

And I mentioned this before but if you want to go reading every Calvin and Hobbes strip to pick out the ones that mention mathematics, you can be doing someone a favor too.

How Much March 2016 Liked My Mathematics Blog


I admit, I didn’t keep my discipline in March as well as I did in February and January. I checked partway through to see how my readership was doing. But I also knew it’d be pretty good. Long strings of daily posts are good for WordPress readership. Probably they’re good for everybody. And I made it through March without missing a day! So these A To Z projects seem good for me on several counts.

For March 2016, I had a record 1,557 page views, from a record 734 distinct visitors. The previous record had been in November, with 1,215 page views, most of those spillovers from the Apartment 3-G collapse. February had given me 949 page views from 538 visitors. January, 998 page views from 523 visitors.

The number of likes was up, to 322. That’s not a record. My record was back in June, when 518 ‘likes’ were clicked. That was my first A To Z project. I can’t explain the difference there. Still, 322 likes is up from February’s 201 and January’s 202. Comments were also up. There were 84 in March, compared to 66 in February and 53 in January. That’s not like the June 2015 high of 114. But I’m pretty sure WordPress counts my pages linking back to earlier pages as if they were comments. So I could make these numbers as high as my patience allowed.

For all that my A To Z has unquestionably brought in readers, none of the individual A To Z essays was among the most-read essays in March. That probably reflects people just reading them on the blog’s main page. There shouldn’t be a need to click on an individual essay’s page to read the whole thing. And you can even read and post comments from the main page, which I think’s an advantage of the theme here (P2 Classic). Anyway, the most popular posts for March were:

The United States sent me 1,009 readers in March. I’m pretty sure that’s the first time it alone sent me over a thousand page views. In second place was India, with 77, and I suspect I know who to thank for that attention. Canada was just barely edged out, with 72 page views. And the other top-five countries were Germany (57) and the United Kingdom (44), surprising everyone who hasn’t seen past months’ data.

The countries sending me a single reader in March were Bahrain, China, Czech Republic, European Union (not a nation), Greece, Macedonia, Norway, Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, and Slovakia. The European Union’s the only repeat from February. For that matter, it’s on a four-month streak even though I’ve yet to find anyone who can tell me what the “European Union” entry signifies. Singapore only sent me five readers, up from three.

It’s a dull set of search terms this month. Discarding the 379 (!) “unknown search terms” we’ve got:

  • origin is the gateway to your entire gaming universe. (Of course.)
  • who discovered boyle’s law (It’s complicated.)
  • dethany (She’s the character who’s taken over Bill Holbrook’s comic strip On The Fastrack.)
  • jokes and puns from rome (?)
  • labels on apples broom hilda cartoon (Happy to help.)
  • comic strip math problem solving dividing polynomials (Um … good luck?)

The month starts with my blog having got 34,755 page views total, from some 13,516 recorded visitors. And it counts me as having 573 followers on WordPress, ten on e-mail, and 202 on Twitter. I’d started March with 566 WordPress followers and I have no idea how many on e-mail or Twitter. But if you’d like to follow me on Twitter, I’d be glad for it. And I’ve finally put my Follow-on-WordPress button in a nice prominent space in the upper right corner of the page. At least I hope it is.

How February 2016 Treated My Mathematics Blog


Once again I spent a month not obsessing about the WordPress-gathered statistics day to day. It was somewhat soothing. But I wasn’t doing well in visiting and commenting on other people’s blogs, and I know that hurts my own readership. The economy of social media runs on sharing attention.

But it was still a decent month around here. The total number of page views dropped below a thousand again, to an official tally of 949. That’s below January’s 998 and December’s 954. It’s a higher readership per day, though. At this rate if February had 31 days there’d have been 1,014 page views. On the other hand, I published 14 things in February, compared to 13 in January. Is the proper correction not the length of the year but how much anyone reads any post?

Well, the number of unique visitors rose. It reached 538 in February, up from January’s 523 and December’s 449. This is a twelve-month high at least. I can’t find older statistics, but I imagine that’s got to be an all-time high, considering.

The number of likes held steady. Well, it dropped from 202 in January to 201 in February. I know better than to think that signifies anything. It’s down from December’s 245, but that’s surely staying right about average. The number of comments rose to 66, up from 53 in January and 56 in December. I think most of that would be people offering requests for the Leap Day Mathematics A To Z.

For a change my top-five articles of the month aren’t dominated by Reading the Comics essays. Well, number 1 and number 5 are, but in comparison that isn’t much at all. The rest of the top five is me pointing to other interesting stuff, which does imply that people like me as a curator more than they like me as an original popularizer. Well, the readership for “Ensembled”, getting at canonical and microcanonical ensembles and statistical mechanics, wasn’t bad. And the early returns for the Leap Day Mathematics A To Z are good too. They had a short time to be read. They were outranked by:

The roster of countries sending me readers was a bit odd this month. The United States was on top, as ever, with 562 page views going to it. I grant I’m in the United States, and post at times convenient to its schedule, and I write in an American idiom. But there’s a lot more English readers outside the United States than inside, and I rarely write about things of particular interest in the United States or disinterest outside. I’ve always wondered why my readership is so close to home.

And then India came in second this month, with 64 readers. I’m glad to see it fluttering up that high. I feel better being read that far from home. Canada, which is close to home but which I’ve only been to twice, changing planes, brought me 41 readers. Germany, which I’ve spent nearly two weeks in, sent 40. Hong Kong, which I’ve been to a fair number of times but always in changing airplanes, 33. I think this is the first time my top-five readership hasn’t been dominated by the United States and the British Commonwealth. (The United Kingdom was next in line, at 26 page views, and Australia 19 after that. And then there’s a whole bunch of countries in which English isn’t a primary language.)

Single-reader nations this time around were Argentina, Bangladesh, Barbados, Cambodia, European Union (not a nation), Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Korea, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, and Ukraine. Bangladesh, the European Union, the Netherlands, and Sweden were there last month too. The European Union is on a three-month streak but still isn’t a nation. And I still don’t know what WordPress even means by that. Singapore sent me three page views, down from twelve the month before. Poland didn’t send me any readers, which is shockingly unpopular even for me.

Search terms bringing people here? I’m happy to provide some. Among those that turned up:

  • how many teapizoids can you get in a rectangle (what gets me is there were multiple hits for this misspelling)
  • what is happening to the toby comic by corey pandolph? (and that’s interesting: after years of being in reruns Pandolph has started writing new installments. The strip has picked up “eight years later”, which seems like about how long Toby, Robot Satan has been idle. I’m glad to see this strip resume.)
  • origin is the gateway to your entire gaming universe. (and why wouldn’t it be?)
  • math theory penguins (I was with you up to the word `penguins’)
  • are any coins unfair (no! But coin tosses can be)
  • population charlotte nc 1975 (I’d tried interpolating what it might have been back then; I’d meant to do a series of essays about different ways to interpolate data, and might again someday)
  • true almost verywhere (not waffling about true or false: “almost everywhere” is a term of art with a precise meaning)

The month starts with 33,200 page views in total, from a recorded 12,782 distinct viewers. I’m tempted to give a prize to whoever logs number 33,333. WordPress credits me with 566 WordPress.com followers. If you’re not sure whether you’re a follower, well, there’ a “Follow Blog via Email” button over on the right side of the page. And I realize I’m not sure where they do put a “Follow Blog on WordPress” button for people who’re logged in to WordPress already. Maybe I need to worry about that. I’m also on Twitter, as @Nebusj, and I’d be happy with being followed there too.

My Mathematics Blog’s June 2015 Statistics, Unabbreviated


I have my main computer back, happy to say, and now I can fill in the missing parts of my June 2015 statistics report.

As mentioned, June had a record number of views, with 1,051. The number of unique visitors — if WordPress is counting all the visitors — is still down. In April there were 389 visitors and in May 415. June saw only 367 that WordPress sees fit to tell me about. That does imply the views per visitor rose, from April’s 2.69 and May’s 2.26 up to 2.86 in June.

June set a record for likes, though, with 518 recorded. That’s well above the previous record of 296 set in April and the not-bad 259 from May. Comments were at a record high too. WordPress noted 114 comments in June, up from May’s 84 and April’s 64. The previous record had been March’s 93. And it tells me that I have 499 total WordPress followers as of the start of July.

Now to the part from the abbreviated report that people really missed: the listing of the countries. The United States as ever sent me the most readers, 549. Canada came in second, with 91, and the United Kingdom sent 76 readers my way. Italy sent 51 and Austria 30. India sent me 15, way up from May’s two.

My single-reader countries were Czech Republic, El Salvador, the European Union (?), Ireland, Maldives, Namibia, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Romania, Switzerland, Thailand, and Trinidad and Tobago. Romania is on a four-month single-reader streak. Pakistan’s on a two-month streak.

And I’ve read advice that it’s worth reminding people how to follow your blog. Um. There’s this “Follow Blog via Email” link that, at least in the P2 Classic theme I’m using right now, is over on the upper right of the page. You can do that. If you have an RSS reader, https://nebusresearch.wordpress.com/feed/ will give you posts. https://nebusresearch.wordpress.com/comments/feed/ will give you comments, although that’s got to be a baffling feed. And my regular old Twitter account is @Nebusj, which is usually a little more chatty on weeks that don’t involve computer problems. Thanks for existing and all that.

How May 2015 Treated My Mathematics Blog


For May 2015 I tried a new WordPress theme — P2 Classic — and I find I rather like it. Unfortunately it seems to be rubbish on mobile devices and I’m not WordPress Theme-equipped-enough to figure out how to fix that. I’m sorry, mobile readers. I’m honestly curious whether the theme change affected my readership, which was down appreciably over May.

According to WordPress, the number of pages viewed here dropped to 936 in May, down just over ten percent from April’s 1047 and also below March’s 1022. Perhaps the less-mobile-friendly theme was shooing people away. Maybe not, though: in March and April I’d posted 14 articles each, while in May there were a mere twelve. The number of views per post increased steadily, from 73 in March to just under 75 in April to 78 in May. I’m curious if this signifies anything. I may get some better idea next month. June should have at least 13 posts from the Mathematics A To Z gimmick, plus this statistics post, and there’ll surely be at least two Reading The Comics posts, or at least sixteen posts. And who knows what else I’ll feel like throwing in? It’ll be an interesting experiment at least.

Anyway, the number of unique visitors rose to 415 in May, up from April’s 389 but still below March’s 468. The number of views per visitor dropped to 2.26, far below April’s 2.68, but closer in line with March’s 2.18. And 2.26 is close to the normal count for this sort of thing.

The number of likes on posts dropped to 259. In April it was 296 likes and in March 265. That may just reflect the lower number of posts, though. Divide the number of likes by the number of posts and March saw an average of 18.9, April 21.14, and May 21.58. That’s all at least consistent, although there’s not much reason to suppose that only things from the current month were liked.

The number of comments recovered also. May saw 83 comments, up from April’s 64, but not quite back to March’s 93. That comes to, for May, 6.9 comments for each post, but that’s got to be counting links to other posts, including pingbacks and maybe the occasional reblogging. I’ve been getting chattier with folks around here, but not seven comments per post chatty.

June starts at 24,820 views, and 485 people following specifically through WordPress.

I’ve got a healthy number of popular posts the past month; all of these got at least 37 page views each. I cut off at 37 because that’s where the Trapezoids one came in and we already know that’s popular. More popular than that were:

I have the suspicion that comics fans are catching on, quietly, to all this stuff.

Now the countries report. The nations sending me at least twenty page views were the United States (476), the United Kingdom (85), Canada (65), Italy (53), and Austria (20).

Sending just a single reader were Belgium, Bulgaria, Colombia, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Romania, and Vietnam. Romania is on a three-month single-reader streak; Vietnam, two. India sent me a mere two readers, down from six last month. The European Union sent me three.

And among the interesting search terms this past month were:

  • origin is the gateway to your entire gaming universe.
  • how to do a cube box (the cube is easy enough, it’s getting the boxing gloves on that’s hard)
  • popeye “computer king” (Remember that comic?)
  • google can you show me in 1 trapezoid how many cat how many can you make of 2 (?, although I like the way Google is named at the start of the query, like someone on Next Generation summoning the computer)
  • plato “divided line” “arthur cayley” (I believe that mathematics comes in on the lower side of the upper half of Plato’s divided line)
  • where did negative numbers originate from

Someday I must work out that “origin is the gateway” thing.

How February 2015 Treated My Mathematics Blog


Of course I’m going to claim February 2015 was a successful month for my mathematics blog here. When have I ever claimed it was a dismal month? Probably I have, though last month wasn’t a case of it.

Anyway, according to WordPress’s statistics page, both the old and the new (which they’re getting around to making less awful), in February the mathematics blog had 859 views, down from January’s 944, but up from December’s 831. This is my second-highest on record. That said, I do want to point out that with a mere 28 days February was at a relative disadvantage for page clicks, and that January saw an average of 30.45 views per day, while February came in at 30.68, which is a record high.

There were 407 visitors in February, down from January’s 438 and December’s 424. 407 is the fourth-highest visitor count I have on record, though its 14.54 visitors per day falls short of January 2015’s 15.64, and way short of the all-time record, January 2013’s 15.26 visitors per day.

The views per visitor were at 1.96 in December, 2.16 in January, and dropped surely insignificantly to 2.11 for February, and there’s no plausibly splitting that up per day. Anyway, the mathematics blog started March at 21,815 views so there’s every reason to hope it’ll hit that wonderfully uniform count of 22,222 views soon.

The new statistics page lets me see that I drew 179 “likes” in February, down from 196 in January, but well up from December’s 128. Not to get too bean-counting but that is 6.39 likes per day in February against a mere 6.32 per day in January.

The most popular posts in February were mostly the comic strip posts, with the perennial favorite of trapezoids sneaking in. Getting more than thirty views each in February were:

  1. Reading the Comics, February 4, 2015: Neutral Edition, where I really showed off the weakness of naming each edition.
  2. Reading the Comics, February 14, 2015: Valentine’s Eve Edition, again, an edition name that’s not really better than just giving the date.
  3. Reading the Comics, January 29, 2015: Returned Motifs Edition, which is the one where I learned anything about the history of blackjack.
  4. How Many Trapezoids I Can Draw, which is the closest I’ll come to classifying the sporadic finite simple groups.
  5. Reading the Comics, February 20, 2015: 19th-Century German Mathematicians Edition, because Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal name-dropped Georg Cantor and Bernard Riemann.
  6. How To Re-Count Fish, describing problems in the post …
  7. How To Count Fish, which was somehow read three fewer times than the Re-Count one was.
  8. Denominated Mischief, in which a bit of arithmetic manipulation proves that 7 equals 11.

In the listing of nations: as ever the countries sending me the most readers were the United States, with a timely 555; Canada with 83, and the United Kingdom with 66. The United States is down from January, but Canada and the United Kingdom strikingly higher. Germany sent 27 (up from 22), Austria 23 (down from 32), and Slovenia came from out of nowhere to send 21 readers this time around. India dropped from 18 to 6.

There were sixteen single-reader countries in February, up from January’s 14: Chile, Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Swaziland, Sweden, Venezuela, and Vietnam. The repeats from January are Hungary, Japan, and Mexico; Mexico is on a three-month streak.

There weren’t any really good, strange, amusing search terms bringing people here this past month, sad to say. The most evocative of them were:

  • topic about national mathematics day (I think this must be a reference to India’s holiday)
  • price is right piggy bank game (I’ve never studied this one, but I have done bits on the Item Up For Bid and on the Money Game)
  • jokes about algebraic geometry (are there any?)
  • groove spacing 78 and 45 (Yeah, I couldn’t find a definitive answer, but something like 170 grooves per inch seems plausible. Nobody’s taken me up on my Muzak challenge.)
  • two trapezoids make a (well, at least someone’s composing modernist, iconoclastic poetry around here)
  • sketch on how to inscribe more than one in a cycle in a triangle according to g.m green (I think this guy should meet the algebraic geometry jokester)

Reading The Comics, December 22, 2015: National Mathematics Day Edition


It was a busy week — well, it’s a season for busy weeks, after all — which is why the mathematics comics pile grew so large before I could do anything about it this time around. I’m not sure which I’d pick as my favorite; the Truth Facts tickles me by playing symbols up for confusion and ambiguity, but Quincy is surely the best-drawn of this collection, and good comic strip art deserves attention. Happily that’s a vintage strip from King Features so I feel comfortable including the comic strip for you to see easily.

Tony Murphy’s It’s All About You (December 15), a comic strip about people not being quite couples, tells a “what happens in Vegas” joke themed to mathematics. The particular topic — a “seminar on gap unification theory” — is something that might actually be a mathematics department specialty. The topic appears in number theory, and particularly in the field of partitions, the study of ways to subdivide collections of discrete things. At this point the subject starts getting specialized enough I can’t say very much intelligible about it; apparently there’s a way of studying these divisions by looking at the distances (the gaps) between where divisions are made (the partitions), but my attempts to find a clear explanation for this all turn up papers in number theory journals that I haven’t got access to and that, I confess, would take me a long while to understand. If anyone from the number theory group wanted to explain things I’d be glad to offer the space.

Continue reading “Reading The Comics, December 22, 2015: National Mathematics Day Edition”

My Math Blog Statistics, August 2014


So, August 2014: it’s been a month that brought some interesting threads into my writing here. It’s also had slightly longer gaps in my writing than I quite like, because I’d just not had the time to do as much writing as I hoped. But that leaves the question of how this affected my readership: are people still sticking around and do they like what they see?

The number of unique readers around here, according to WordPress, rose slightly, from 231 in July to 255 in August. This doesn’t compare favorably to numbers like the 315 visitors in May, but still, it’s an increase. The total number of page views dropped from 589 in July to 561 in August and don’t think that the last few days of the month I wasn’t tempted to hit refresh a bunch of times. Anyway, views per visitor dropped from 2.55 to 2.20, which seems to be closer to my long-term average. And at some point in the month — I failed to track when — I reached my 17,000th reader, and got up to 17,323 by the end of the month. If I’m really interesting this month I could hit 18,000 by the end of September.

The countries sending me the most readers were, in first place, the ever-unsurprising United States (345). Second place was Spain (36) which did take me by surprise, and Puerto Rico was third (30). The United Kingdom, Austria, and Canada came up next so at least that’s all familiar enough, and India sent me a nice round dozen readers. I got a single reader from each of Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Latvia, Mexico, Romania, Serbia, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, and Venezuela. The only country that also sent me a single reader in July was Hong Kong (which also sent a lone reader in June and in May), and going back over last month’s post revealed that Spain and Puerto Rico were single-reader countries in July. I don’t know what I did to become more interesting there in August but I’ll try to keep it going.

The most popular articles in August were:

I fear I lack any good Search Term Poetry this month. Actually the biggest search terms have been pretty rote ones, eg:

  • trapezoid
  • barney and clyde carl friedrich comic
  • moment of inertia of cube around the longest diagonal
  • where do negative numbers come from
  • comic strip math cube of binomials

Actually, Gauss comic strips were searched for a lot. I’m sorry I don’t have more of them for folks, but have you ever tried to draw Gauss? I thought not. At least I had something relevant for the moment of inertia question even if I didn’t answer it completely.

Something I Didn’t Know About Trapezoids


I have a little iPad app for keeping track of how this blog is doing, and I’m even able to use it to compose new entries and make comments. (The entry about the lottery was one of them.) Mostly it provides a way for me to watch the count of unique visits per day, so I can grow neurotic wondering why it’s not higher. But it also provides supplementary data, such as, what search queries have brought people to the site. The “Trapezoid Week” flurry of posts has proved to be very good at bringing in search referrals, with topics like “picture of a trapezoid” or “how do I draw a trapezoid” or “similar triangles trapezoid” bringing literally several people right to me.

Continue reading “Something I Didn’t Know About Trapezoids”