## “Let us Calculate!”: Leibniz, Llull, and the Computational Imagination – The Public Domain Review

The characteristica universalis and the calculus racionator of Leibniz.

The characteristica universalis and the calculus racionator of Leibniz.

An absolutely gorgeous piece of hypermedia!

Data visualisations and interactive widgets enliven this maze of mathematics. Dig deep—you may just uncover the secret passages that join these concepts together.

The benchmarks that advertising companies use — intended to measure the number of clicks, sales and downloads that occur after an ad is viewed — are fundamentally misleading. None of these benchmarks distinguish between the selection effect (clicks, purchases and downloads that are happening anyway) and the advertising effect (clicks, purchases and downloads that would not have happened without ads).

It gets worse: the brightest minds of this generation are creating algorithms which only increase the effects of selection.

A terrificly well-written piece on the emperor’s new clothes worn by online advertising. Equal parts economic rigour and Gladwellian anecdata, it’s a joy to read! Kudos to Alana Gillespie for the great translation work (the original article was written in Dutch).

We currently assume that advertising companies always benefit from more data. … But the majority of advertising companies feed their complex algorithms silos full of data even though the practice never delivers the desired result. In the worst case, all that invasion of privacy can even lead to targeting the wrong group of people.

This insight is conspicuously absent from the debate about online privacy. At the moment, we don’t even know whether all this privacy violation works as advertised.

The interaction design of this article is great too—annotations, charts, and more!

The forbidden symmetry of Penrose tiles and quasicrystals.

An interesting piece by Jessica Kerr that draws lessons from the histories of art and science and applies them to software development.

This was an interesting point about the cognitive load of getting your head around an existing system compared to creating your own:

Why are there a thousand JavaScript frameworks out there? because it’s easier to build your own than to gain an understanding of React. Even with hundreds of people contributing to documentation, it’s still more mental effort to form a mental model of an existing system than to construct your own. (I didn’t say it was faster, but less cognitively strenuous.)

And just because I’ve spent most of last year thinking about how to effectively communicate—in book form—relatively complex ideas clearly and simply, this part really stood out for me:

When you do have a decent mental model of a system, sharing that with others is hard. You don’t know how much you know.

Metaballs, not to be confused with meatballs, are organic looking squishy gooey blobs.

Here’s the maths behind the metaballs (implemented in SVG).

In this terrific essay by Marina Benjamin on the scientific and mathematical quest for ever-more dimensions, she offers this lovely insight into the mind-altering effects that the art of Giotto and Uccello must’ve had on their medieval audience:

By consciously exploring geometric principles, these painters gradually learned how to construct images of objects in three-dimensional space. In the process, they reprogrammed European minds to see space in a Euclidean fashion.

In a very literal fashion, perspectival representation was a form of virtual reality that, like today’s VR games, aimed to give viewers the illusion that they had been transported into geometrically coherent and psychologically convincing

otherworlds.

A web book with interactive code examples.

How can we capture the unpredictable evolutionary and emergent properties of nature in software? How can understanding the mathematical principles behind our physical world help us to create digital worlds? This book focuses on the programming strategies and techniques behind computer simulations of natural systems using Processing.

Beyond Curie is a design project that highlights badass women in science, technology, engineering + mathematics.

A very *very* in-depth look at fluid typography in CSS using `calc`

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A detailed history of Babbage and Lovelace through the lens of Wolfram’s work today:

Ada seems to have understood with some clarity the traditional view of programming: that we engineer programs to do things we know how to do. But she also notes that in actually putting “the truths and the formulae of analysis” into a form amenable to the engine, “the nature of many subjects in that science are necessarily thrown into new lights, and more profoundly investigated.” In other words—as I often point out—actually programming something inevitably lets one do more exploration of it.

If this piques your interest, I highly recommend the Babbage biography The Cogwheel Brain by Doron Swade.

I don’t understand the maths, but the logic is fascinating.

Solving the city.

A beautiful piece of musical mathematical poetry.

Henri Sivonen gives the lowdown on the HTML5 parser that will ship with the next version of Firefox. This is a huge development ...and yet users won't even notice it (by design).

Equations to live by.

There's no such thing as a good CAPTCHA but if there were, these would be ...Best. CAPTCHAs. Ever!

Benford's law blows my mind. Be sure to watch the video. This is all related to network theory and power law distributions ...I'm just not sure how.

Richard Feynman and The Connection Machine.

A seasonal twist on the lottery card is withdrawn because people don't understand how negative numbers work. "I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with some story that -6 is higher – not lower – than -8 but I'm not having it."