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  • Math Trek

    Winning the World Series with math

    To run the bases faster, baseball players just need a bit of mathematics, according to research by an undergraduate math major and his professors. Their calculations show that the optimal path around the bases is one that perhaps no major-league ball player has ever run: It swings out a full 18.5 feet from the baseline.

    The precise path the researchers calculated probably won’t...

    10/22/2010 - 15:10
  • Math Trek

    Checking It Twice

    Counting is hard. Neither people nor machines seem to be able to do it reliably. And that's a nightmare for election officials who need an accurate ballot count to decide elections.

    Eighteen states require officials to double-check the machine counts by hand for a portion of the ballots. But election officials have had little guidance on what to do with the recount results. If the...

    01/17/2008 - 17:24 Numbers
  • News

    Primal Progress: Pattern hunters spy order among prime numbers

    Mathematicians have taken a step forward in understanding patterns within the primes, numbers divisible only by 1 and themselves. According to the new work, the population of prime numbers contains an infinite collection of arithmetic progressions—number sequences in which each term differs from the preceding one by the same fixed amount.

    For example, in the sequence 3, 5, 7, each prime...

    04/21/2004 - 09:35 Numbers
  • Feature

    Great Computations

    Computers at home or in the office often sit idle for minutes, hours, or days at a time. The Internet now allows researchers to take advantage of this enormous reservoir of unused computer power.

    More than 1.6 million people have downloaded software to sift through signals collected by the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico as part of a search for signs of intelligent...

    09/06/2002 - 17:54 Numbers
  • Feature

    Pi à la Mode

    Memorizing the digits of pi–the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter–presents a hefty challenge to anyone undertaking that quixotic exercise. Starting with 3.14159265, the decimal digits of pi run on forever, and there is no discernible pattern to ease the task.

    The apparent randomness of pi's digits has long intrigued mathematician David H. Bailey of the...

    08/28/2001 - 15:29 Numbers