Saturday, October 4, 2014

Alex At The University Of San Francisco For A Mathemagic Presentation

Song:  Arwen's Vigil

Artists:  The Piano Guys

We went to San Francisco to attend a mathematical presentation
by the very famous mathematician...
Professor Arthur Benjamin (of Mathemagic Fame).

As the drive is 3 1/2 hours from Reno...
we went early in the day so we could eat and do some shopping 
in the nearby Japan Center.

We were last here two years ago
(Alex remembered the date and day :)

Alex had been pestering us to go back to the underground parking lot
 of the Japan Center in San Francisco.

For some reason, Alex loves underground structures.

He kept saying he wanted to see the Japanese Wi-Fi fans.

We understood when we arrived...
they do look like the Wi-Fi insignia  :)

We looked around and bought a couple of books 
for Alex to practice reading in Japanese 
(Barefoot Gen in Japanese).

We then ate in one of the restaurants.

We had grilled seafood skewers (scallops / shrimp / salmon) 
and deep fried oysters for appetizers.

Alex then had the Tonkatsu and Unagi combo platter.

My wife and I had the Beef Terriyaki and Sashimi platter.

We then did some food shopping in a local Japanese market.

We then went to the University of San Francisco to attend the mathematical presentation.

There was a very beautiful building just across from the building 
where the presentation was held.

As we had arrived early...
we sat in the front...
and Alex got his picture taken with Professor Arthur Benjamin
(Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College).

Many of the founders of the project I had spoken of in the UC Berkeley article
were there...and they had sponsored this presentation.

Both, Richard Rusczyk and Arthur Benjamin, are board members of the project.

Professor Arthur Benjamin initiating his presentation.

Although the Professor did all of his calculations in his head (at lightning speed)...
he had demonstrated how his calculation of a certain problem was valid through Algebra.

The Professor had shown some of his methods of keeping track of his calculations.

He had explained that he had broken down the numerals into a phonetic code...
and then just converted a group of the letters into words...
and so, all he had to do was remember the sentences he would create.

In this manner...
he gets order from chaos

(example:  the first 3 numerals of Pi equals the letters MTR.
He simply makes them into a word such as MoToR.
By remembering a sentence made from the words...
even were it to be nonsensical...
a whole large string of unrelated numbers...
could be made easy to remember).

He then demonstrated his method using the first 60 numerals of Pi by memory.

He had then used this same method to remember groups of his mental calculations...
and he then squared 49,687 in his head and had asked some audience members 
to check his answer on calculators
(the numerals of which had been given at random to him by members of the audience).

The Professor had also told of a very funny saying
from a couple of decades ago when the ratio of the male students to female students
was 3:1 at Harvey Mudd College (it is now almost 1:1).

He said that the females had a saying about the males there
(Harvey Mudd College greatly emphasizes Math, Science, and Engineering):

'The odds are good...' (for securing a boyfriend due to the 3:1 ratio)...
'but the goods are odd'  :)

Of course...
mathematicians are known for being a little different  :)

Alex got his entrance ticket autographed by Professor Arthur Benjamin...
and we bought the only DVD of his that we hadn't already had.

It was a productive day...
and it was thoroughly enjoyable to us all.

We took a last look at the beautiful campus building...
and we settled in for the drive home.

We arrived home slightly after 12:30 AM.

Even though Alex and my wife had slept on the way back...
they have long been in bed...and I am still up
(although the Red Bull I had on the way home has a lot to do with that  :)

For all parents who have children who love math...
you simply must buy all of the DVDs and books from:

Arthur Benjamin and Richard Rusczyk.

Alex has long been a great fan of both of these great mathematicians and teachers.

The information you get from their material...
you simply won't get anywhere else...
certainly not in any standard public school.


  1. I have been to San Francisco many times but never went to the Japan Center or the University of SF campus. Looks like a beautiful place. That sounds like a very worthwhile presentation for Alex. I'm sure he enjoyed it.

    We just got a shortened English version of Barefoot Gen when we were in Hiroshima. My wife read it as a child (in Japanese) and it was good for my son to read the story. I'm sure it will be good for Alex as well.

  2. Alex had already read the English version. He wanted to practice his Japanese with the Japanese version. He really enjoys the story also.


Please feel free to comment on this article.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...