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Math

Ramanujian's Deathbed Problem Cracked 205 205

Jake's Mom sends word of the serendipitous solution to a decades-old mathematical mystery. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin have unraveled a major number theory puzzle left at the death of one of the twentieth century's greatest mathematicians, Srinivasa Ramanujan. From the press release: "Mathematicians have finally laid to rest the legendary mystery surrounding an elusive group of numerical expressions known as the 'mock theta functions.' Number theorists have struggled to understand the functions ever since... Ramanujan first alluded to them in a letter written [to G. H. Hardy] on his deathbed, in 1920. Now, using mathematical techniques that emerged well after Ramanujan's death, two number theorists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have pieced together an explanatory framework that for the first time illustrates what mock theta functions are, and exactly how to derive them."

Comment: Re:The Old Tape Recorder (Score 1) 457 457

In my experience, the clickers give an unfair advantage to people with more friends in the class. Since professors usually use it to mandate attendance (making it worth some portion of the grade), a group of friends who take turns bringing each other's clickers to class (it happens all the time) can get all the attendance points without going to class as often. And they're slow to register with everyone trying to click at once, so in a class of 100, it takes more than 5 minutes for everyone to be able to answer one question with them. And the devices are expensive, and some of the companies also charge you for each semester that you use them.

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