Media Talks, Interviews and Articles on Mathematics

New York Times (and other) Op-Eds on Mathematics

I was appointed a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times in March, 2015 and continue to write op-eds for them. Several of the math pieces listed below have attained #1 emailed status. Documentation of this, along with notes on some of them can be found here.

How to Fall in Love With Math (September 15, 2013) was my first math op-ed. This rose to the most e-mailed article for the day, but only made it to #2 for the week (I was bumped by the pope, who leapfrogged ahead with his comments.) The New York Times website quickly reached their maximum of 360 responses and terminated the ability to comment. Here are the links to my other math-related op-eds:

Don’t Expect Math to Make Sense, about Pi Day (March 13, 2015)

Mathematicians and Blue Crabs, about Chesapeake crab populations (May 2, 2015)

Why is Science so Straight? about attitudes to LGBT workers in STEM (Sep 4, 2015)

The Importance of Recreational Math, about how puzzles contribute to math understanding (Oct 12, 2015)

The Mathematician’s 90th Birthday Party, about age stereotypes in math (Apr 25, 2016)

Who Invented ‘Zero’? about where zero came from (Oct 7, 2017)

Does Math Make You Smarter? about a cool logic test from psychology called the Wason Selection Task, and how it pertains to math education (Apr 13, 2018)

Stop Saying ‘Exponential.’ Sincerely, a Math Nerd. about how “exponential” and other math terms have been appropriated in unfortunate ways (Mar 4, 2019)

Want to fix gerrymandering? Then the Supreme Court needs to listen to mathematicians in The Conversation about mathematical standards to identify extreme gerrymandering (Mar 29, 2019). Also republished by PBS News Hour and

Pi gets all the fanfare, but other numbers also deserve their own math holidays on mathematical constants that also deserve their own holidays like Pi Day, in The Conversation. (Mar 8, 2023)

Declines in math readiness underscore the urgency of math awareness on why we need to promote Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month, and how we should do it, in The Conversation. (Mar 31, 2023)

Diagnostic tests for rare conditions present a mathematical conundrum (STAT News article with Dr. Daniel Morgan) on the mathematics behind testing for rare diseases, where false positives can play havoc. (Nov 30, 2023)

NYT op-eds (including non-math ones) through 2016 can be found on my NYT contributing opinion writer page. (However, this page is no longer being updated –  my 2018 op-ed on gay rights in India, can be found here.)

Radio Talks

My inaugural try was a math interview on NPR broadcast on Monday, October 1, 2007. It’s hard talking about math on the radio (no visuals!), as I found out. I gave it another shot on BBC radio’s “The Forum” (February 21, 2009). They invited me back to talk on my new novel in Mar, 2013, but the conversation turned to math again.

My NYT article “How to Fall in Love With Math” led to some good radio interviews: on WILS Michigan (September 17, 2013) and The Joy Cardin Show (Wisconsin Public Radio, September 24, 2013).

I appeared on the Sheilah Kast show on NPR on Mar 1, 2017 in an interview titled “How to Love Math.”

Articles on Mathematics

An interview with mathematician Evelyn Thomas on her work modeling the spread of AIDS through bisexual men who live the “down-low” life (i.e. have sex with men without telling their female partners) in SIAM News, Mar 3, 2014.
My review of Jordan Ellenberg’s book, How not to be wrong: The power of mathematical thinking in The Washington Post. (Jun 13, 2014)
A Mathematically Impossible Novel” in The Daily Beast, March 15, 2013.
The Writing Life” On balancing mathematics with writing, in The Washington Post, February 8, 2009.
X=50 Semesters” An article on completing 25 years of teaching mathematics, in The New York Times Magazine, September 21, 2008.
“Learn Math or Die” (“Mathe lernen oder sterben”) An essay about mathematics education in India, in the German-language cultural magazine, Kulturaustausch: IV, 36-37 (2006).

Interviews on Mathematical Aspects of Career

New York Times Interview by Claudia Dreifus in the “Science” section, June 17, 2008.
SIAM News Profile (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics), April 12, 2008.
A Fundamental Decomposition Theorem for Fiction? Interview in SIAM News, January 9, 2001.