Why are there irresolvable arguments?


One of the nice things about the modern world is that arguing over matters of fact has become less of a thing. With the internet at your fingertips, it is possible to look up a lot of things in a flash. On the other hand, it is still possible to argue motive and interpretation and we are still having a lot of arguments. In this post Occupy Math looks into a type of stalemated argument that cannot be influenced by logic or fact. This type of argument is closely connected to a primary foundation of mathematics. One nice thing — once you notice the wrinkle that shows why some arguments cannot be resolved, you get a tool for understanding that the other person may not be an idiot. The problem is, rather, that their assumptions are different from yours.

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Image of the Week #109

This week, Occupy Math presents a hexagonal leafy spiral from the Cubic Mandelbrot set.


Occupy Math announces a book by Daniel Ashlock


bookpicOne of Occupy Math’s research areas is figuring out how to get computers to produce game content more-or-less automatically. This post announces a book that summarizes many of Occupy Math’s findings. You can buy a copy from my publisher Morgan and Claypool, but if you are part of a university or other institution that subscribes to the Morgan and Claypool synthesis series then an e-book with unlimited use for students and faculty will show up in your library presently. Profits go to Occupy Math’s consulting company, which funds students and research!

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An Activity Index

Ofactoryccupy Math looks at many different situations where mathematics (or the lack of mathematics) are important to people. One of our many threads is activities and information for teachers and parents. This post provides an index to these activity posts and then an index to some of the informational posts that might give helpful background. One thing to keep in mind — if there is a type of activity you might like to see, let Occupy Math know (e-mail dashlock@uoguelph.ca).

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Figuring out when you can do a puzzle.

This week’s Occupy Math looks at a type of puzzle where you want to fill a rectangle with a shape. We will be using the L-shaped 3-square polyomino, used to fill a 5×9 rectangle below, as our example shape. The goal is to figure out every possible size of rectangle that can be filled with this shape. If you are constructing puzzles for other people — e.g., your students — knowing which problems can be solved gives you an edge. The post will not only solve the problem for our example shape, but also give you tools for doing this for other shapes. The answers, and the tools, are at the bottom if you don’t feel like working through the reasoning.


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Grid Games: Reinforcing Geometry with Puzzles

This post is the next in Occupy Math’s series of activities for teachers, students, and parents. There is a good deal of basic algebra and geometry that can be practiced with puzzles on grids. These puzzles are intended for grades 6-10, depending on how much the students know about polygons and finding areas. You can use standard graph paper to supply the grids for these puzzles. We start with the following puzzle. If we assume the grids have spacing one, draw a square whose corners are on grids and that has an area of exactly five.


A student will have a natural desire to draw a square with vertical and horizontal edges — but the squares that can be drawn that way on this grid have areas of 1, 4, 9, and 16 — that is all. How do we get five? Read on to find out.

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