Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Memories , Personal , Tech

Mathematical puzzles and diversions

Martin Gardner died at the weekend. He was 95.

I didn't read much of his work but I know Dad was a big fan, and through him Martin's writings influenced me a great deal. Without Martin would I have written an endless stream of computer programs in the late '80s exploring abstract topology? Is Martin why one of Dad's car number plates included the sequence "1-3-5" while mine runs "8-4-2"? Without him would I have given a second thought to the simultaneous alphabetic and chronological ordering of my family's initials? Is my penchant for arranging objects in patterns traceable back to columns in Scientific American which I didn't ever see?

Sometime before I was nine years old I remember Dad asking us children whether the sum of an even number and an odd number would be odd or even, then challenging us to prove it. It was classic Dad, and the kind of thing which Martin Gardner approached in his columns.

I've been looking sideways at number ever since, finding heaven in the ordinary, whether recognising the Fibonacci sequence encoded in the artwork of U2's No Line on the Horizon, devising an elegant algorithm, or looking down from a coast path at the pattern of waves in a cove.

Thanks Martin.

Posted by pab at 21:16 | Comments will be back later in the year. Please email me instead!