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May 5, 20214 minute read

Asymptotic Expansion of the Error Function


This post documents the implementation of the error function erf(z)\mathrm{erf}(z) used in my complex function plotter. For small zz, I use the asympotic series by Abramowitz & Stegun. For large zz, I use a custom expansion around the 45° line.

March 20, 20212 minute read

On Yoneda’s Lemma


Today is the day I understood Yoneda’s lemma. Of course I’ve proven it several times before; in a sense the proof is trivial, since there’s only one thing you can do at each stage. But I never felt that I really understood what the lemma was saying, or why it should be true, until something clicked today.

November 19, 20204 minute read

A Cone Eversion


I recently found a paper titled ‘A Cone Eversion,’ by S. Tabachnikov. I found it a bit difficult to see what was happening in 3D, so I made a visualization. Enjoy!

October 28, 20202 minute read

A Nice Solution of Putnam 1981 B5


Here’s a nice solution of Putnam 1981 B5 that I haven’t seen anywhere else (so far). The main idea is to sum `bitwise,' rather than `termwise.'

Let SkS_k denote the set of positive integers with the kkth bit set, counting from the right starting at k=0k=0. Then we have

n=1B(n)n2+n=k=0nSk1n2+n.\sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{B(n)}{n^2 + n} = \sum_{k=0}^\infty \sum_{n \in S_k} \frac{1}{n^2 + n}.

A bit of thinking shows that nSkn \in S_k if and only if 2kn=2m+1\lfloor 2^{-k} n\rfloor = 2m+1 is odd. Thus the sum becomes

September 7, 20202 minute read

A Geometric Solution of Putnam 2003 B5


Update 2020-09-08: This solution has been added to Kiran Kedlaya’s solution page.

I've found an elegant geometry-only proof of Putnam 2003 B5, which, to the best of my knowledge, hasn't yet been discovered.

We begin with a diagram of the problem:

Initial diagram of the problem.

August 20, 20203 minute read

Primes pp with tanp>p\tan{p} > p


Inspired by Matt Parker’s recent video, I decided to search for primes pp with tanp>p\tan{p} > p, the first of which is the 46-digit

p=1169809367327212570704813632106852886389036911.p = 1169809367327212570704813632106852886389036911.

p=116980936732886389036911.p = 116980936732 \dots 886389036911.

How do you go about finding more?

Well, we want tanp\tan{p} to be big — very big. From high-school trigonometry, we know that this occurs when pp is just a tiny bit less than a half-integer multiple of π\pi. In other words, we want

August 1, 20209 minute read

Optimal Kernel-Based Averaging


July 29, 20202 minute read

Constant-Period Oscillation implies SHM


It’s well-known that the period of a simple harmonic oscillator (SHO) is independent of its oscillation amplitude. But is this the only oscillator for which this holds?

No. A simple counterexample is the SHO + ‘brick wall’ potential:

Right half of a quadratic potential, with a delta function at zero.Right half of a quadratic potential, with a delta function at zero.