Saturday, July 30, 2011

My First Professional Paper Published: On Doing Mathematics

The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics is an online professional journal. They accepted a paper I wrote, and it just came out today. I'm proud of myself.  :^)

Here's a summary of the goodies in this issue:
This summer issue covers a wide range of topics. Susan D’Agostino turns to Polya’s text How to Solve It to tackle a tricky problem: creating a new major in mathematics that is relevant in today’s world. Ilhan Izmirli gives us an overview of how culture affects our basic views of what constitutes mathe- matical knowledge. Meanwhile Sue VanHattum presents a personal, in-depth look at how mathematical problems actually get solved, and Kris Green con- templates how the teaching of mathematical thinking could impact public understanding of evolution. JoAnne Growney provides a friendly yet brief account of the diversity of the mathematical blogosphere and other online resources. Reuben Hersh presents a profile of Alvin White, the founder of our predecessor journal, the Humanistic Mathematics Network Journal. Marjorie Senechal reviews a book containing the non-mathematical writings of another hero of the JHM editorial staff: prominent activist, writer, and mathematician Chandler Davis. We also have a review of Joe Mazur’s What’s Luck Got to Do with It? written by Michael Lugo, and some fantastic math- ematical poetry, by Sarah Glaz, Florin Diacu, and Mari-Lou Rowley. The short story “Final Exam” by Robert Dawson wraps up this issue.

I've never put what I wrote about in the paper here on my blog, because it's about the solution to a very cool problem, and I'd rather not show people answers here. I'm more interested in enticing you into playing the game of math yourselves. The problem is:

On a circle, put some points. Connect each point to every other point with straight lines. How many regions are created for n points? (Check your prediction by working out the circle with 6 points.)

Play with it. It took me years to get to the solution. But it was always fun to play with.


  1. Congratulations, Sue! This is a very exciting milestone. I'm looking forward to reading your paper. :)

    - Elizabeth (aka @cheesemonkeysf on Twitter)

  2. Congratulations! I can't wait to read it. "playing the game of math" - I like the sound of that.

  3. is meant to be "what is the maximum amount of regions for n points"?

  4. oh, Never mind.... I read "in a circle" not "on a circle" :-)

  5. "an online-only, open-access, peer-reviewed journal"

    I wish all journals were open-access (read: free). How can "professional math educators" justify publishing in journals teachers can not afford? A stupid question: Why do they publish?

  6. fabulous. breaking down a hard-won
    solution to a particular problem sounds
    like a winning idea: usually one gets
    either "here's the best way i've found
    to do it; never mind all the dead-ends"
    or a bunch of metaphorical handwaving
    like one finds in math-appreciation books
    for the bigbox bookstores. i've got most
    of the hardcopies of th' _humanistic_
    but i thought they'd quit publishing
    altogether. good stuff. congrats
    on placing your paper. OT


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