What's all this, then?

Mathematics, software, general nonsense

Colonial massacres, 1794 to 1928

The date January 26 is one of immense current debate in Australia. Officially it’s the date of Australia Day, which supposedly celebrates the founding of Australia. To Aboriginal peoples it is a day of deep mourning and sadness, as the date commemorates over two centuries of oppression, bloodshed, and dispossession. To them and their many supporters, January 26 is Invasion Day. The date commemorates the landing in 1788 of Arthur Phillip, in charge of the First Fleet and the first Governor of the colony of New South Wales.

Vote counting in the Australian Senate

Recently we have seen senators behaving in ways that seem stupid, or contrary to accepted public opinion. And then people will start jumping up and down and complaining that such a senator only got a tiny number of first preference votes. One commentator said that one senator, with 19 first preference votes, “couldn’t muster more than 19 members of his extended family to vote for him”. This displays an ignorance of how senate counting works.

Concert review: Lixsania and the Labyrinth

This evening I saw the Australia Brandenburg Orchestra with guest soloist Lixsania Fernandez, a virtuoso player of the viola da gamba, from Cuba. (Although she studied, and now lives, in Spain.) Lixsania is quite amazing: tall, statuesque, quite absurdly beautiful, and plays with a technique that encompasses the wildest of baroque extravagances as well as the most delicate and refined tenderness. The trouble with the viol, being a fairly soft instrument, is that it’s not well suited to a large concert hall.

Linear programming in Python (2)

Here’s an example of a transportation problem, with information given as a table: .transport table { width: 80%; table-layout: fixed;} th, td { text-align: center;} th { background: #DCDCDC;} Demands 300 360 280 340 220 750 100 150 200 140 35 Supplies  400 50 70 80 65 80 350 40 90 100 150 130 This is an example of a balanced, non-degenerate transportation problem.

Linear programming in Python

For my elementary linear programming subject, the students (who are all pre-service teachers) use Excel and its Solver as the computational tool of choice. We do this for several reasons: Excel is software with which they’re likely to have had some experience, also it’s used in schools; it also means we don’t have to spend time and mental energy getting to grips with new and unfamiliar software. And indeed the mandated curriculum includes computer exploration, using either Excel Solver, or the Wolfram Alpha Linear Programming widget.

The power of two irrational numbers being rational

There’s a celebrated elementary result which claims that: There are irrational numbers \(x\) and \(y\) for which \(x^y\) is rational. The standard proof goes like this. Now, we know that \(\sqrt{2}\) is irrational, so let’s consider \(r=\sqrt{2}^\sqrt{2}\). Either \(r\) is rational, or it is not. If it is rational, then we set \(x=\sqrt{2}\), \(y=\sqrt{2}\) and we are done. If \(r\) is irrational, then set \(x=r\) and \(y=\sqrt{2}\). This means that \[ x^y=\left(\sqrt{2}^\sqrt{2}\right)^{\sqrt{2}}=\sqrt{2}^2=2 \] which is rational.

Wrestling with Docker

For years I have been running a blog and other web apps on a VPS running Ubuntu 14.04 and Apache - a standard LAMP system. However, after experimenting with some apps - temporarily installing them and testing them, only to discard them, the system was becoming a total mess. Worst of all, various MySQL files were ballooning out in size: the ibdata1 file in /var/lib/mysql was coming in at a whopping 37Gb (39568015360 bytes to be more accurate).

Householder's methods

These are a class of root-finding methods; that is, for the numerical solution of a single nonlinear equation, developed by Alston Scott Householder in 1970. They may be considered a generalisation of the well known Newton-Raphson method (also known more simply as Newton’s method) defined by \[ x\leftarrow x-\frac{f(x)}{f’(x)}. \] where the equation to be solved is \(f(x)=0\). From a starting value \(x_0\) a sequence of iterates can be generated by

The Joukowsky Transform

The Joukowksy Transform is an elegant and simple way to create an airfoil shape. Let \(C\) be a circle in the complex plane that passes through the point \(z=1\) and encompasses the point \(z=-1\). The transform is defined as \[ \zeta=z+\frac{1}{z}. \] We can explore the transform by looking at the circles centred at \((-r,0)\) with \(r<0\) and with radius \(1+r\): \[ \|z-r\|=1+r \] or in cartesian coordinates with parameter \(t\):