Archive for the ‘education’ Category

First of all, 5OSME is here in Singapore! (Registration is over, but I think there are some portions of this convention for Origami in Science, Math and Education which are open to the public.)

Which explains why Erik Demaine and Robert Lang are here in Singapore!

Erik Demaine gave a talk today at NUS, and among the many amazing things he displayed, he demonstrated a “trick” that makes use of something called monotonous Boolean functions.

Before proceeding, I shall state the problem.

First, suppose we have a picture frame hanging from a nail by a piece of string like so:

If we remove the nail, the frame will fall.

Now suppose we have two nails instead of one. We can hang the frame from both nails in a few ways:

In the leftmost example, the frame will still remain suspended if we remove either nail; only by removing both nails can we cause it to fall. In the middle example, removing the red peg will cause the frame to remain suspended, while removing the green one will cause it to fall. The problem is this:

Is it possible to loop our string around the two pegs in such a way that removing either nail will cause the frame to fall?

This should be relatively simple to solve. (A version of the answer is here. There is no picture frame in the answer, so you have to imagine it hanging from the bottom of the loop, and convince yourself that removing either nail will cause the frame to fall)

Erik demonstrated the above in his talk today. He then asked: can we generalize this to more nails? Can we hang a picture from n nails such that removing any nail causes the picture to fall?

I’ll post about the solution, and its relation to monotone Boolean functions, in subsequent posts.


(Picture Credits:

Pictures of curved origami sculptures in glass

Picture frame)


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‘Twas the night before Finals, and all through the towns
Not a student was drinking, not even an ounce!
The tables in libraries were covered with care
By books of all sizes and looks of despair.
Trying hard, in the night, to recall the semester
A student pored through all the things they would test her.
“There’s too much to study, there’s not enough time!”
She said to herself, at the bell tower’s chime.
The tower struck seven, then eight, nine and ten,
But no one had studied enough even then:
On every face, one could clearly observe
The look of “Those people will skew the grade curve!”
Away in a manger of flashcards and notes
Someone was feasting – no, gorging – on quotes;
And far down the valley in a room full of Asians,
Eng’neers derived partial diff’rential equations.
As midnight drew nearer, so did looks of dismay:
Soon one could say truly, “My test is today!”
Seconds passed quickly, minutes quicker still,
As the dark day of doom nimbly crept up the hill –
Till at last someone broke down, could stand it no more,
And, leaving his table, rushed out his room door.
Hark! What should he hear as he tugged at his hair,
But a chorus of shouts in the cold midnight air,
Sounding forth, in one voice, from insomnaic host
Of most students, at least, and all students, at most,
Declaring to everyone sharing their plight,
“Best wishes to all, and to all a good-night!”

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PW pwnd

Not really.

But students, teachers, or corporate staff, imagine how much nicer your project, presentation, report or personal notes would look like if it included a couple of the charts from the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods.

(ironically, I can’t find “Periodic Table” as one of the methods…”Table” doesn’t count…) (more…)

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The bird has taken to the air!!!

So many things I wanna do! Better list them out (O.O Did i just say “list them out”?? Ah! I mean, “list them down”… better start revising my phrasal verbs):


  1. C++
  2. LaTex
  3. Cryptography
  4. Number Theory
  5. Economics
  6. Mathematics of Finance
  7. Tai Chi


  1. Cryptogram solver
  2. Sudoku solver, implementing my method
  3. Sudoku solver, implementing Knuth’s Algorithm X
  4. Generalised sudoku solver (any M x N grid)
  5. C++ Implementation of the RSA Algorithm

Other targets

  1. Touch my toes (you know what I mean… don’t tell me, “But you can touch your toes what… if you bend your knees”)
  2. Stop slouching/ hunching
  3. Finish reading “Bleak House”and “Foucault’s Pendulum”
  4. Attempt “Ulysses” (both Homer’s and Joyce’s)
  5. Reread Lewis, Chesterton, H.A. Williams, Herbert, Hopkins and Eliot, and find more of their like.

Will add more to the list as time goes by. Hope to start striking out some soon 🙂

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guitar first steps

Click here for the slides. (~7mb. Lots of pics. Sources fully cited in slide notes)

and here for the notes.

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Turns out that the words “fluorine poem” top the list of search terms that lead to my blog.

Which is misleading, because, up till now, there hasn’t been any poem on fluorine anywhere on this blog.

Poems are aplenty, but the only mention of Fluorine in this whole site is in my blogroll, where I have a few links under the heading “Sulfur Trioxide Fluorine”.

Funny. No one seems to want poems about sulfur or trioxides. Only fluorine.

Anyway, since there seems to be a demand for poems about fluorine, I’ve churned out a short little elemental ditty, dedicated to all you fluorine-loving rhymesters out there…

My name is Fluorine, from fluorum, “to flow”,

My symbol is F, and 2 is my row,

I’m in group number 7, atomic number, 9,

And my weight is 3 more than a fifth of Bromine.

My brothers in crime are the halogen gang,

When we’re not making salt, we’re making a bang!

My bros are reactive, I’m even more so,

I can burn hydrocarbons at temperatures low!

Did I mention my race? I’m a yellowy-brown,

And when I react, my oxidation number goes down.

Alone as a gas, I’m a poison; but don’t worry:

My electrons are usually shared in a hurry

With hydrogen, carbon and plain water, too,

And metals and even the noble gas crew.

You can find me in acid, in toothpaste, in salts,

But mostly, I’m doing the CFC waltz. 😛

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hit the road!

I’ve noticed that my blog contains more of other people’s words than my own. I quote too much. My excuse is that if other people have expressed it better than I ever will, then I might as well save myself the trouble.

But perhaps it’s also because I have read about life more than I’ve experienced it.

I have nothing to say because I have not experienced enough to write about.

Just like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, just a kid:

Reminds me of lyrics by Simon and Garfunkel too:

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

There I go quoting again.

Not that I have anything against books. Man, they’re what I subsist on.

But no-one ever boasts of having “Read this, heard that”… It’s always “Been there, done that”. Experience!

Reading is like looking at a map. It’s all well and good, and it helps one find the way around, but one’ll never get anywhere unless one hits the road!

Goodbye library! Hello world!

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