Author Archives: Brent

The birthday candle problem: solution

Recall the birthday candle problem I wrote about in a previous post: A birthday cake has lit candles. At each step you pick a number uniformly at random and blow out candles. If any candles remain lit, the process repeats … Continue reading

Posted in combinatorics, probability, solutions | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Cosmic Call at The Universe of Discourse

I’ve really been enjoying a series of posts by Mark Dominus on his blog, The Universe of Discourse. The Cosmic Call was a series of radio messages sent in 1999 and 2003 aimed at various nearby stars (in case there … Continue reading

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The birthday candle problem

After a 1.5-month epic journey1, I am finally settling into my new position at Hendrix College. Here’s a fun problem I just heard from my new colleage Mark Goadrich: A birthday cake has lit candles. At each step you pick … Continue reading

Posted in challenges, combinatorics, probability | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Mystery curve, animated

As a follow-on to my previous post, here’s an animation (17MB) showing how the “mystery curve” arises as a sum of circular motions: Recall that the equation for the curve is . The big blue circle corresponds to the term—it … Continue reading

Posted in complex numbers, geometry, programming | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Random cyclic curves

Princeton Press just sent me a review copy of a new book by Frank Farris called Creating Symmetry: The Artful Mathematics of Wallpaper Patterns. It looks amazing and I’m super excited to read it. Apparently John Cook has been reading … Continue reading

Posted in complex numbers, geometry, programming | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments

The blog lives! and Secrets of Creation Trilogy

I haven’t written here in a really long time! But the blog has not been abandoned, just on hiatus. I have recently started blogging again so you can expect more posts in the near future! In the meanwhile, here’s what … Continue reading

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Permutation flower

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