For ten years, Glen Whitney, a mathematician, worked as an algorithm manager at the giant quantitative hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, on Long Island. He was the man—or one of many—in the so-called “black box.” During that time, Renaissance did extremely well, as did Whitney, and so when he left the firm, last year, he had the wherewithal to devote himself to his favorite shower-time epiphany—that what the world needs (if not most, then at least a lot) is a museum devoted to math. The equation goes something like this: for the variables Expertise (E), Computational Power (CP), Capital (C), Risk (R), Altruism (A), Obsession (O), Indifference (I)… The idea behind the museum, which doesn’t yet have a home, is that math is ubiquitous, supercool, underappreciated, poorly taught, and even more poorly learned. To drum up interest in his museum, Whitney has been leading free tours of Manhattan neighborhoods, lingering over the math-y bits.
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Math is a universal language, perhaps like music. Too much emphasis is placed on English in US schools and too little on math. Try building your family a house with english skills and you’ll see what I mean.
You can get on the mailing list to find out about upcoming tours by sending e-mail to [email protected]. You can also see the first efforts of the math museum, the traveling exhibition called the Math Midway, on Saturday and Sunday, Aug 29-30, at the Urban Academy. For more information, see .