Search found 555 matches

by skullturf
Tue Mar 20, 2012 8:13 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: "quarter of", "quarter till", "quarter to"
Replies: 9
Views: 10016

"quarter of", "quarter till", "quarter to"

I was born and raised in Western Canada, and now live in Delaware. The other day, I heard two different people describe the time by saying "It's ten of four" where I would say "It's ten to four". Meaning that it's 3:50. (I have also sometimes heard people say things like "te...
by skullturf
Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:36 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Infinity paradox? Help
Replies: 54
Views: 9576

Re: Infinity paradox? Help

You can't construct an integer from the diagonal of an infinite matrix because integers have a finite number of digits by definition. Same problem: you can't have infinitely long integers, so you can't map the integers to the reals like that. That restriction on integers seems arbitrary though. Wha...
by skullturf
Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:49 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Infinity paradox? Help
Replies: 54
Views: 9576

Re: Infinity paradox? Help

Try to make a list of all the real numbers, and this will be a list of infinitely long strings of digits. But can't the exact same argument be made for, for example, the integers? I can select a ones digit that disagrees with the first element in your list, a tens digit that disagrees with the seco...
by skullturf
Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:44 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: A stats-type problem from my mother's workplace
Replies: 2
Views: 858

A stats-type problem from my mother's workplace

(My mother's work doesn't involve restaurant ratings. Her job involves providing recreational activities for people with psychiatric illnesses, but that's totally beside the point -- I made up a toy problem with the relevant structure.) The problem is: There are two restaurants, #1 and #2. There are...
by skullturf
Thu Mar 08, 2012 6:50 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Partitioning arbitrary numbers using +,-,*,^
Replies: 17
Views: 3239

Re: Partitioning arbitrary numbers using +,-,*,^

Here's one possible attempt to make this question more precise. Undoubtedly there are also other possible ways. For a positive integer n, let S(n) be the set of all integers that can be formed using at most n positive integers, each of which is at most n, if we can combine them using +,-,*,^. For ex...
by skullturf
Thu Mar 01, 2012 7:47 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: People without the "horse"/"hoarse" merger?
Replies: 11
Views: 7810

Re: People without the "horse"/"hoarse" merger?

Interesting. Perhaps it's time for me to search through YouTube clips of (say) Liam Neeson, and listen closely to the way he says words with an "or" or "oar" sound. (Of course, actors aren't always the best examples, because they sometimes consciously or unconsciously depart from...
by skullturf
Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:43 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Things as common as being a leap year baby
Replies: 7
Views: 1702

Re: Things as common as being a leap year baby

Living in Norway Given that you're an American, living in (choose one) Scottsdale, AZ / Fremont, CA / Birmingham, AL Given that you're a Canadian, living in Whitehorse, YT Being born while the clock at Big Ben is striking midnight Given that you're in Fenway Park at full capacity, actually particip...
by skullturf
Thu Mar 01, 2012 5:21 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: People without the "horse"/"hoarse" merger?
Replies: 11
Views: 7810

People without the "horse"/"hoarse" merger?

I'd like to think that I have a reasonably good ear for accents, and I have some familiarity with the various mergers that are present in some regional varieties of English and absent in others. I was born and raised in Western Canada, so I personally grew up with the "cot"/"caught&qu...
by skullturf
Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:57 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Things as common as being a leap year baby
Replies: 7
Views: 1702

Things as common as being a leap year baby

(This isn't mathematics in the narrowest sense, but it's about demographics and probabilities and orders of magnitude.) With today being Leap Day, I was thinking about the phenomenon of being born on February 29th. I've personally only known one person who I know was born on February 29th. (It was a...
by skullturf
Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:13 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Quesion about addition of inverses of odd positive integers
Replies: 20
Views: 4770

Re: Quesion about addition of inverses of odd positive integ

Here's an example much like Nitrodon's (with slightly smaller denominators) described in a little more detail. Define n = 1018976683725 (which has prime factorization 3^3 5^2 7^2 11 13 17 19 23 29). Why this n? The sum of its divisors is relatively large. (By the way, it's possible to write down an ...
by skullturf
Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:49 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Quesion about addition of inverses of odd positive integers
Replies: 20
Views: 4770

Re: Quesion about addition of inverses of odd positive integ

If all denominators are odd, and the denominators 1 and 3 are both forbidden, we can still make 1. 1 = 1/5 + 1/7 + 1/9 + 1/11 + 1/13 + 1/15 + 1/21 + 1/27 + 1/33 + 1/35 + 1/39 + 1/45 + 1/55 + 1/63 + 1/65 + 1/77 + 1/91 + 1/99 + 1/105 + 1/117 + 1/135 + 1/143 + 1/273 + 1/2079 + 1/135135 How did I find t...
by skullturf
Tue Feb 21, 2012 4:09 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Quesion about addition of inverses of odd positive integers
Replies: 20
Views: 4770

Re: Quesion about addition of inverses of odd positive integ

(EDIT: fixed a typo) I spoke too soon when I said at 5 pm yesterday that I was stupid at 7 am. At 7 am, I was smart enough to notice that the original question said we can't use 1 as a denominator. Then, by 5 pm, I had forgotten that. I took some ideas from that other thread, and 2 can be expressed ...
by skullturf
Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:55 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Quesion about addition of inverses of odd positive integers
Replies: 20
Views: 4770

Re: Quesion about addition of inverses of odd positive integ

I'm stupid. Or at least, I was at 7 in the morning. I made things way harder for myself by starting with 1/3 rather than 1/1. Note that 1/1 + 1/3 + 1/5 + 1/7 + 1/9 + 1/11 + 1/13 < 2 1/1 + 1/3 + 1/5 + 1/7 + 1/9 + 1/11 + 1/13 + 1/15 > 2 If I try the greedy strategy mentioned in the wiki page, I seem t...
by skullturf
Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:06 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Quesion about addition of inverses of odd positive integers
Replies: 20
Views: 4770

Re: Quesion about addition of inverses of odd positive integ

You probably meant to say that a,b,... must be distinct. If not, then consider (1/3) + (1/3) + (1/3) + (1/5) + (1/5) + (1/5) + (1/5) + (1/5) = 2 EDIT: If a,b,... are required to be to distinct, I don't know the answer, but here's a possibly relevant fact: (1/3) + (1/5) + (1/7) + (1/9) + ... + (1/111...
by skullturf
Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:02 am UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Words you choose to mispronounce
Replies: 242
Views: 92256

Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

I was also going to suggest "tsetse fly". I've also known people with the first name Tsvi and the last name Tsai or Tsatsomeros, and I pronounced their names with an initial "ts" sound. Same with "tsunami", at least for me, come to think of it. But it's definitely rare ...
by skullturf
Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:43 am UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: "increased by 400%"
Replies: 17
Views: 24855

Re: "increased by 400%"

I am also bothered by the use of "exponential" to mean just "growing fast". However, an argument could be made that if you're just talking about casual everyday language where things are hard to quantify, the word is being used in a metaphorical or deliberately imprecise way and ...
by skullturf
Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:38 am UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Words you choose to mispronounce
Replies: 242
Views: 92256

Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

American pronunciation of words from most European languages (at least those where they invest some effort to imitate the original pronunciation, like German and French) usually gets them halfway - they get half of the possible errors right, the other half wrong. They'll pronounce ei in "zeitg...
by skullturf
Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:09 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Words you choose to mispronounce
Replies: 242
Views: 92256

Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

I honestly have never heard it with the [æ] or [ɛ]. Is it an American thing? I think so, and Canadian too. There are other words that are pronounced with the "trap" vowel by North Americans, but are pronounced with the "father" vowel in some other places. E.g. the words "ha...
by skullturf
Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:35 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Show us your articles! Or what's your Erdos number?
Replies: 187
Views: 277584

Re: Show us your articles! Or what's your Erdos number?

delooper -- we may or may not know each other. Of course, different people reveal different amounts of information about themselves on the internet, but I am a mathematician who's originally from British Columbia and did my BSc and PhD in that province.

(I'm also a 3 by the way.)
by skullturf
Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:32 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Random xkcd comic problem
Replies: 11
Views: 2413

Re: Random xkcd comic problem

What's your stopping criterion: (1) you stop when you've seen every comic at least once, or (2) you stop when there's at least one comic you've seen twice?

(2) is the birthday problem; (1) is the coupon collector problem.
by skullturf
Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:10 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Neither a descriptivist nor a prescriptivist be
Replies: 99
Views: 18204

Re: Neither a descriptivist nor a prescriptivist be

It's not so much an issue of a single new usage becoming adopted by 100% of speakers, as it is the old usage dying out completely . If the old usage dies out completely , and two (both mistaken) alternate new usages take its place in different speech communities, then the language has split into di...
by skullturf
Thu Feb 02, 2012 8:29 pm UTC
Forum: Logic Puzzles
Topic: Seventeen "Blue Eyes" Objections and Responses [SPOILER]
Replies: 73
Views: 41339

Re: Seventeen "Blue Eyes" Objections and Responses [SPOILER]

Heh, I forgot that the "day after the day after the day after tomorrow" stuff was said by me. But I do remember using similar examples in classes I've taught. Not when discussing the blue eyes puzzle -- I've never taught a class where it came up -- but I think the "day after the day a...
by skullturf
Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:54 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: "increased by 400%"
Replies: 17
Views: 24855

Re: "increased by 400%"

Yeah, partly personal experience. Also, the most prominent thing in the expression "increased by 400%" is the number 400%. If something becomes 5 times its original value, it just seems so unnatural to describe the increase by saying something was added . (Granted, when you get to even big...
by skullturf
Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:05 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: "increased by 400%"
Replies: 17
Views: 24855

"increased by 400%"

I have an intense dislike for expressions such as "The price increased by 400 percent." That is, I hate when people use "increased by x percent" when x is a large number (probably anything larger than 100, in fact.) I have no problem with "increased by 3 percent" or &qu...
by skullturf
Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:54 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Words you choose to mispronounce
Replies: 242
Views: 92256

Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

I would usually represent the sound [æ] with the letter A, and think of that as a "short A" sound, whereas I would usually represent the sound [ɛ] with the letter E, and think of that as a "short E" sound. For me, "valley" and "rally" rhyme with each other, an...
by skullturf
Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:13 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Words you choose to mispronounce
Replies: 242
Views: 92256

Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

I keep pronouncing finale the Italian way, not fennelie. Just can't get myself to pronounce it the American way, except to point out how wrong it sounds to me. I've never heard it pronounced 'fennelie'. I always pronounce it fih-NAA-lee [fɪnæli]. It was always the announcements for the "season...
by skullturf
Thu Feb 02, 2012 5:58 am UTC
Forum: Logic Puzzles
Topic: Seventeen "Blue Eyes" Objections and Responses [SPOILER]
Replies: 73
Views: 41339

Re: Seventeen "Blue Eyes" Objections and Responses [SPOILER]

Yes, I, too, thank you for this. It may perhaps appear redundant to some, but the large number of responses on the other blue eyes thread suggests that it might be necessary or helpful. I really like your example in the response to Objection #1. "The day after [repeat 300 times] tomorrow" ...
by skullturf
Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:29 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Neither a descriptivist nor a prescriptivist be
Replies: 99
Views: 18204

Re: Neither a descriptivist nor a prescriptivist be

Iulus Cofield wrote:"Try and X" is imperative only, isn't it? I'd expect you to complain about "go [verb]".


I've definitely heard it in non-imperative contexts. (Although it's possible that this varies with region.)

I get tons of Google hits for "i'm going to try and"
by skullturf
Sat Jan 28, 2012 7:09 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Neither a descriptivist nor a prescriptivist be
Replies: 99
Views: 18204

Re: Neither a descriptivist nor a prescriptivist be

I am sympathetic to the idea of a kind of nuanced or informed prescriptivism, or a middle ground between two caricatures of prescriptivism and descriptivism. I like your point ("you" and "your" refer to the OP here) that "current usage" is actually past usage. The recen...
by skullturf
Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:31 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Sorting elements of a rectangular array
Replies: 4
Views: 1876

Re: Sorting elements of a rectangular array

Very good. Here's my solution, which I believe amounts to more or less the same thing, but phrased differently. For brevity, let's refer to sorting the rows as "Step 1", and then sorting the columns as "Step 2". We use proof by contradiction. Suppose that after performing Ste...
by skullturf
Fri Jan 27, 2012 5:38 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Sorting elements of a rectangular array
Replies: 4
Views: 1876

Sorting elements of a rectangular array

This question appeared at the website "Futility Closet" yesterday: http://www.futilitycloset.com/2012/01/26/ranks-and-files/ Maybe my brain just doesn't work very well in the evening, but I found it surprisingly subtle to try to come up with a general argument for why it works. Today I loo...
by skullturf
Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:35 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Neither a descriptivist nor a prescriptivist be
Replies: 99
Views: 18204

Re: Neither a descriptivist nor a prescriptivist be

"axe" for "ask" is just a widely-replicated error, and no degree of said wideness can make it stop being an error. It's not an error, it's a dialect difference which is covers large areas of the US and England. The viewpoint that "it's still an error, no many how many peopl...
by skullturf
Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:59 am UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]
Replies: 338
Views: 159194

Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

The instructor use might instead of could . Is there any semantic change/difference between might and could? Here's my intuition about "might" vs "could". I am a native speaker of English, born and raised in Canada but living in Delaware, aged 37. "There might be a dog acro...
by skullturf
Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:28 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Neither a descriptivist nor a prescriptivist be
Replies: 99
Views: 18204

Re: Neither a descriptivist nor a prescriptivist be

Actually, I'd be surprised to find anybody consciously adopting a new form or meaning in favor of an old one that they had previously acquired. Well, I'm sure it does happen sometimes -- I recently moved from Canada to Delaware, and deliberately started saying "soda" instead of "pop&...
by skullturf
Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:08 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Literally, Really, Very, Truly, Seriously
Replies: 125
Views: 32902

Re: Literally, Really, Very, Truly, Seriously

Suppose that at some time in the near future, people started using "I'm not joking" or "This really happened" as a mere intensifier in contexts that were clearly jokes or metaphors or exaggerations.* I could see this being annoying or confusing at first. If it started as more pre...
by skullturf
Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:51 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Neither a descriptivist nor a prescriptivist be
Replies: 99
Views: 18204

Re: Neither a descriptivist nor a prescriptivist be

But again, I have yet to see any evidence that people do not already evaluate the usefulness, for their own purposes, of a change before embracing it. After all, why else would they make the change? I suppose one could argue that sometimes, people make such changes for careful, well-thought-out, co...
by skullturf
Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:49 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Neither a descriptivist nor a prescriptivist be
Replies: 99
Views: 18204

Re: Neither a descriptivist nor a prescriptivist be

...for every change, we can have an argument about whether or not that change is helpful or harmful, and that those arguments can be of a rational nature with justified points driving toward an objectively correct conclusion, and not merely matters of taste.* ...my overarching point is that such ar...
by skullturf
Wed Jan 25, 2012 1:37 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: SAS (side angle side) postulate
Replies: 8
Views: 4798

Re: SAS (side angle side) postulate

It appears that SAS (or something extremely close to it) was also an axiom in a fairly well-known axiomatization due to Hilbert.

See IV.6. in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilbert's_axioms
by skullturf
Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:33 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: SAS (side angle side) postulate
Replies: 8
Views: 4798

Re: SAS (side angle side) postulate

As an attempt at a very rough intuitive explanation, I think it has to do with making an assumption that space (or the plane) is "homogeneous". Suppose that in front of me, I have two line segments of length 2 and 5 at a 60 degree angle to one another. They form a triangle if I add one mor...
by skullturf
Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:45 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Neither a descriptivist nor a prescriptivist be
Replies: 99
Views: 18204

Re: Neither a descriptivist nor a prescriptivist be

Point taken; some individuals' votes do, in practice, count for more. But the broader point still stands, that in any particular dispute, an individual speaker may happen to come out on the winning side or the losing side.

Go to advanced search