The volume conjecture relates the hyperbolic volume of a knot complement to quantum invariants of the knot. Specifically, the conjecture is that

where computes the colored Jones polynomial and . For some knots , there are nice formulas for . For instance, if is the figure eight knot, then can be written as

When and one takes the limit, this sum transforms quite nicely into the Riemann sum which computes , which is the hyperbolic volume of the figure eight knot complement.

Are there other cases in which one can verify the volume conjecture directly by finding a nice form for the colored Jones polynomial? Yamazaki-Yokota in “On the limit of the colored Jones polynomial of a non-simple link” verified, in the same direct way, the volume conjecture for a certain link with volume . I hope one could find other examples by searching for links and knots with “nice” volumes in terms of the Lobachevsky function .

From my search with SnapPy,- the link in Rolfsen’s table has volume ,
- the link in Rolfsen’s table has volume , and
- the knot volume .

Of course, there are lots of nonhyperbolic knots and it is hard to prove the volume conjecture even for those, in spite of the fact that their hyperbolic volume is “really nice” (namely, zero!).

A while back I made some movies which began with a triangle in the plane, reflected that triangle through its three sides, reflected those triangles through their sides, and so forth. The interesting result is that for only four shapes of triangles, the resulting set of triangle vertices is discrete.

Using Raphael and a plane geometry package that I wrote, I quickly redid this visualization in Javascript; you can now move the vertices around to see the effect on the reflected triangles.

I have really fallen in love with Google Books Ngram Viewer, so I thought I’d do a little ``culturomics" myself. Here’s an image I made using Google’s data:

The brightness of the pixel at position is related to how frequently “” appears in books published in the year . Specifically, if is the number of times “” appears in print during year , divided by the number of times any number less than 2100 appears in print during that year, then is the brightness of the pixel at .

The dark, diagonal edge along the right hand side appears because in year there are many published appearances of numbers near .

**World events have left their mark on the numbers appearing in books!** For example, 1914 is still being talked about long after 1914, as evidenced by the darker line above 1914.

If we look at numbers just above 1000 and turn up the contrast a bit,

we see an echo of the dark diagonal, from people writing (or more likely, the OCR software reading) zero instead of nine in the year. There’s a dark column for the Norman conquest in 1066; a number like was not so important until the 20th century.

If we look at numbers just above 1300,

we can see an diagonal line from 1800s being read as 1300s, and a dark vertical line above 1453 (the “end” of the middle ages). In the 18th century,

1776 is quite visible. **And finally, a puzzle:**

Why was “2044” so significant until the 1920s?

I’d love to know the answer to this question. The only thing I can guess that might relate the year 1919 to the year 2044 is solar eclipses.

A very long while ago I posted some solutions to Lights Out; back then, I solved the -by- board by row-reducing an -by- matrix.

Since then, both Boris Okun and Brent Werness pointed out to me that I should’ve solved Lights Out by using a *scanning algorithm*: propagating the button presses down one row at a time, and exponentiating the propagation matrix to make sure that I don’t get stuck at the last row.

This is much faster.

With this method, here is a (scaled down, auto-leveled) 2000-by-2000 solution:

And here is a (very much scaled-down, auto-leveled) 5000-by-5000 solution:

My advisor, Shmuel Weinberger, was teaching Math 113, and asked for some pictures of the following procedure:

- Start with a triangle in the plane.
- Reflect that triangle across its three sides.
- And repeat, reflecting the resulting triangles through their sides, and so forth.

I made a couple movies of this, illustrating this procedure as you move through the space of triangles. Observe how, for only four shapes of triangles, the resulting set of triangle vertices is discrete.

I recently gave a beamer talk, which gave me the chance to point the beamer at my blackboard.

According to the Mathematics Genealogy Project, my mathematical genealogy is:

- Luca Pacioli
- Domenico Maria Novara da Ferrara
- Nicolaus Copernicus
- Georg Joachim von Leuchen Rheticus
- Caspar Peucer
- Salomon Alberti
- Ernestus Hettenbach
- Ambrosius Rhodius
- Christoph Notnagel
- Johann Andreas Quenstedt
- Michael Walther, Jr.
- Johann Pasch
- Johann Andreas Planer who doesn’t have a Wikipedia page
- Christian August Hausen
- Abraham Gotthelf Kästner
- Johann Friedrich Pfaff
- Carl Friedrich Gauss
- Christian Ludwig Gerling
- Julius Plücker
- C. Felix (Christian) Klein
- William Edward Story
- Solomon Lefschetz
- Norman Earl Steenrod
- George William Whitehead, Jr.
- John Coleman Moore
- William Browder
- Sylvain Edward Cappell
- Shmuel Aaron Weinberger

There are some branches to choose among, but I think the branch starting with Pacioli is the most appropriate.

Here’s a little movie I made:

I took my road test this morning—and I passed!

After all these years, I am a licensed driver. Now, where should I drive to?

Google Trends plots the search volume (or some other measure? search percentage?) for a given phrase over time. It’s ridiculously fun!

As an example, let’s look at the number of times people search for the words **hot** and **cold**. I downloaded the CSV file offered by Google trends to make the following graph:

The thick red and blue lines are the linear regressions on the number of searches for **hot** and **cold**, respectively. Behold!—people are searching *more often* for **hot** lately, and *less often* as of late for **cold**! The search volume does seem to be related to the temperature: you might notice that the search volume for **cold** dips under the regression line during the summer, but exceeds it during the winter.

And so, **global warming is being revealed in our search habits.** Maybe I should’ve titled this post “Google warming.”