Ready to exercise those brain cells? Humans have been having fun with mathematics for thousands of years. Along the way, they've discovered the amazing utility of this field--in science, engineering, finance, games of chance, and many other aspects of life. This course of 24 half-hour lectures celebrates the sheer joy of mathematics, taught by a mathematician who is literally a magician with numbers. Professor Arthur T. Benjamin of Harvey Mudd College is renowned for his feats of mental calculation performed before audiences at schools, theaters, museums, conferences, and other venues.

Running Time

740 mins

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24 videos included

Kanopy ID

1274151

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Episode 1 The Joy of Math

Professor Benjamin introduces the ABCs of math appreciation: The field can be loved for its applications, its beauty and structure, and its certainty. Most of all, mathematics is a source…

Episode 2 The Joy of Numbers

How do you add all the numbers from 1 to 100--instantly? What makes a square number square and a triangular number triangular? Why do the rules of arithmetic really work,…

Episode 3 The Joy of Primes

A number is prime if it is evenly divisible by only itself and one: for example, 2, 3, 5, 7, 11. Professor Benjamin proves that there are an infinite number…

Episode 4 The Joy of Counting

Combinatorics is the study of counting questions such as: How many outfits are possible if you own 8 shirts, 5 pairs of pants, and 10 ties? A trickier question: How…

Episode 5 The Joy of Fibonacci Numbers

The Fibonacci numbers follow the simple pattern 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, etc., in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers. Fibonacci numbers have many…

Episode 6 The Joy of Algebra

Arguably the most important area of mathematics, algebra introduces the powerful idea of using an abstract variable to represent an unknown quantity. This lecture demonstrates algebra's golden rule: Do unto…

Episode 7 The Joy of Higher Algebra

This lecture shows how to solve quadratic (second-degree) equations from the technique of completing the square and the quadratic formula. The quadratic formula reveals the connection between Fibonacci numbers and…

Episode 8 The Joy of Algebra Made Visual

Algebra can be used to solve geometrical problems, such as finding where two lines cross. The technique is useful in real-life problems, for example, in choosing a telephone plan. Graphs…

Episode 9 The Joy of 9

Adding the digits of a multiple of 9 always gives a multiple of 9. For example: 9 x 4 = 36, and 3 + 6 = 9. In modular arithmetic,…

Episode 10 The Joy of Proofs

Professor Benjamin begins his discussion of mathematical proofs with intuitive cases like "even plus even is even" and "odd times odd is odd." He builds to more complex proofs by…

Episode 11 The Joy of Geometry

Geometry is based on a handful of definitions and axioms involving points, lines, and angles. These lead to important conclusions about the properties of polygons. This lecture uses geometric reasoning…

Episode 12 The Joy of Pi

Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It starts 3.14 and continues in an infinite nonrepeating sequence. Professor Benjamin shows how to learn the…

Episode 13 The Joy of Trigonometry

Trigonometry deals with the sides and angles of triangles. This lecture defines sine, cosine, and tangent, along with their reciprocals, the cosecant, secant, and cotangent. Extending these definitions to the…

Episode 14 The Joy of the Imaginary Number i

Could the apparently nonsensical number the square root of -1 be of any use? Very much so, as this lecture shows. Such imaginary and complex numbers play an indispensable role…

Episode 15 The Joy of the Number e

Another indispensable number to learn is e = 2.71828 ... Defined as the base of the natural logarithm, e plays a central role in calculus, and it arises naturally in…

Episode 16 The Joy of Infinity

What is the meaning of infinity? Are some infinite sets "more" infinite than others? Could there possibly be an infinite number of levels of infinity? This lecture explores some of…

Episode 17 The Joy of Infinite Series

Starting with the analysis of the proposition 0.999999999 ... = 1, this lecture explores what it means to add up an infinite series of numbers. Some infinite series converge on…

Episode 18 The Joy of Differential Calculus

Calculus is the mathematics of change, and answers questions such as: How fast is a function growing? This lecture introduces the concepts of limits and derivatives, which allow the slope…

Episode 19 The Joy of Approximating with Calculus

Exploiting the idea of the derivative, we can approximate just about any function using simple polynomials. This lecture also shows why a formula sometimes known as "God's equation" (involving e,…

Episode 20 The Joy of Integral Calculus

Geometry and trigonometry are used to determine the areas of simple figures such as triangles and circles. But how are more complex shapes measured? Calculus comes to the rescue with…

Episode 21 The Joy of Pascal's Triangle

A geometric arrangement of binomial coefficients called Pascal's triangle is a treasure trove of beautiful number patterns. It even provides an answer to the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas":…

Episode 22 The Joy of Probability

Mathematics can draw detailed inferences about random events. This lecture covers major concepts in probability, such as the law of large numbers, the central limit theorem, and how to measure…

Episode 23 The Joy of Mathematical Games

This lecture applies the law of total probability and other concepts from the course to predict the long-term losses to be expected from playing games such as roulette and craps…

Episode 24 The Joy of Mathematical Magic

Closing the course with a magician's flair, Professor Benjamin shows a trick for producing anyone's phone number, how to create a magic square based on your birthday, how to play…

Secrets of Mental Math

One key to expanding your math potential--whether you're a CEO or a high school student--lies in the power to perform mental calculations. Solving basic math problems in your head offers lifelong benefits including a competitive edge at work, a more active and sharper mind, and improved standardized test scores. Discover…

The Joy of Math - The Big Picture

Professor Benjamin introduces the ABCs of math appreciation: The field can be loved for its applications, its beauty and structure, and its certainty. Most of all, mathematics is a source of endless delight through creative play with numbers.

Math in Your Head!

Dive right into the joys of mental math. First, learn the fundamental strategies of mental arithmetic (including the value of adding from left to right, unlike what you do on paper). Then, discover how a variety of shortcuts hold the keys to rapidly solving basic multiplication problems and finding squares.

Mental Math and Paper

Sometimes we encounter math problems on paper in our daily lives. Even so, there are some rarely taught techniques to help speed up your calculations and check your answers when you are adding tall columns of numbers, multiplying numbers of any length, and more.

Go Forth and Multiply

Delve into the secrets of easy mental multiplication: Professor Benjamin's favorite mathematical operation. Once you've mastered how to quickly multiply any two-digit or three-digit number by a one-digit number, you've mastered the most fundamental operations of mental multiplication and added a vital tool to your mental math tool kit.

The Joy of Mathematical Magic

Closing the course with a magician's flair, Professor Benjamin shows a trick for producing anyone's phone number, how to create a magic square based on your birthday, how to play "mathematical survivor," a technique for computing cube roots in your head, and a card trick to ponder.

Advanced Multiplication

Professor Benjamin shows you how to do enormous multiplication problems in your head, such as squaring three-digit and four-digit numbers; cubing two-digit numbers, and multiplying two-digit and three-digit numbers. While you may not frequently encounter these large problems, knowing how to mentally solve them cements your knowledge of basic mental…

Expert Backgammon

Mathematically trained players also have a decisive edge in backgammon, which trains you to make decisions in highly uncertain conditions. Professor Benjamin explains the rules of the game, the basic strategies for winning, the best ways to play your opening rolls, and how math constantly enters the picture--from figuring out…

N is a Number: A Portrait of Paul Erdös

A man with no home and no job, Paul Erdos was the most prolific mathematician who ever lived. Born in Hungary in 1913, Erdos wrote and co-authored over 1,500 papers and pioneered several fields in theoretical mathematics. At the age of 83 he still spent most of his time on…

The Joy of the Number e

Another indispensable number to learn is e = 2.71828 ... Defined as the base of the natural logarithm, e plays a central role in calculus, and it arises naturally in many spheres of mathematics, including calculations of compound interest.

I Want To Be A Mathematician: A Conversation with Paul Halmos

A 44-minute interview with mathematician Paul Halmos that touches on the Moore Method, becoming a mathematician, great teachers, designing a course, writing, and the state of education in the United States. The interview conducted in 1999 by Peter Renz and George Csicsery was released by the Mathematical Association of America…

Mathematics and Chess

Chess is more like doing real mathematics than almost any other game out there. You'll get a quick overview of how it's is played; learn how to see connections between math and chess; explore some classic chess puzzles and problems; tap into strategies and tactics for the opening, middle, and…

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