The distribution of Pythagorean triples

When I studied high school geometry, I noticed that many homework problems involved right triangles whose side lengths were integers. The canonical example is the 3-4-5 right triangle, which has legs of length 3 and 4 and a hypotenuse of length 5. The triple (3, 4, 5) is called a […]
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How to use frequency analysis to crack the Cryptoquote puzzle

Many people enjoy solving word games such as the daily Cryptoquote puzzle, which uses a simple substitution cipher to disguise a witty or wise quote by a famous person. A common way to attack the puzzle is frequency analysis. In frequency analysis you identify letters and pairs of letters (bigrams) […]
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Wolfram's Rule 30 in SAS

My previous blog post describes how to implement Conway's Game of Life by using the dynamically linked graphics in SAS/IML Studio. But the Game of Life is not the only kind of cellular automata. This article describes a system of cellular automata that is known as Wolfram's Rule 30. In […]
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Cellular automata and the Game of Life in SAS

A colleague jokingly teases me whenever I write a blog that demonstrates how to write fun and exciting programs by using SAS software. "Why do you get to have all the fun?" he mock-chides. Today I'm ready to face his ribbing, because this article is about Conway's Game of Life […]
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This article is actually fastidious: How spammers generate random comments for blogs

Last week Chris Hemedinger posted an article about spam that is sent to SAS blogs and discussed how anti-spam software helps to block spam. No algorithm can be 100% accurate at distinguishing spam from valid comments because of the inherent trade-off between specificity and sensitivity in any statistical test. Therefore, […]
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How to format decimals as fractions in SAS

Yesterday I blogged about the Hilbert matrix. The (i,j)th element of the Hilbert matrix has the value 1 / (i+j-1), which is the reciprocal of an integer. However, the printed Hilbert matrix did not look exactly like the formula because the elements print as finite-precision decimals. For example, the last […]
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For pi day: A continued fraction expansion of pi

Many geeky mathematical people celebrate "pi day" on March 14, because the date is written 3/14 in the US, which is evocative of the decimal representation of π = 3.14.... Most people are familiar with the decimal representation of π. The media occasionally reports on a new computational tour-de-force that […]
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Fundamental theorems of mathematics and statistics

Although I currently work as a statistician, my original training was in mathematics. In many mathematical fields there is a result that is so profound that it earns the name "The Fundamental Theorem of [Topic Area]." A fundamental theorem is a deep (often surprising) result that connects two or more […]
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Ulam spirals: Visualizing properties of prime numbers with SAS

Prime numbers are strange beasts. They exhibit properties of both randomness and regularity. Recently I watched an excellent nine-minute video on the Numberphile video blog that shows that if you write the natural numbers in a spiral pattern (called the Ulam spiral), then there are certain lines in the pattern […]
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A Christmas tree matrix

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, Last year a fractal made thee! O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, A heat map can display thee! O tree of green, adorned with lights! A trunk of brown, the rest is white. O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, A heat map can display […]
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