## Tag: Just for Fun

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Binary heart in SAS

The xkcd comic often makes me think and laugh. The comic features physics, math, and statistics among its topics. Many years ago, the comic showed a "binary heart": a grid of binary (0/1) numbers with the certain numbers colored red so that they formed a heart. Some years later, I

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A Christmas tree from Pascal's triangle

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, One year a fractal made thee! O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, A heat map can display thee! From Pascal's matrix we define! Reflect across, divide by nine. O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, Self-similar and so divine! Eventually I will run out of

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Pascal's triangle in SAS

Pascal's triangle is the name given to the triangular array of binomial coefficients. The nth row is the set of coefficients in the expansion of the binomial expression (1 + x)n. Complicated stuff, right? Well, yes and no. Pascal's triangle is known to many school children who have never heard of polynomials

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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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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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Rotating matrices

This article is about rotating matrices. No, I don't mean "rotation matrices," I mean rotating matrices. As in turning a matrix 90 degrees in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. I was reading a program written in MATLAB in which the programmer used a MATLAB function called ROT90, which rotates a

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How to tell whether a sequence of heads and tails is random

While walking in the woods, a statistician named Goldilocks wanders into a cottage and discovers three bears. The bears, being hungry, threaten to eat the young lady, but Goldilocks begs them to give her a chance to win her freedom. The bears agree. While Mama Bear and Papa Bear block

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Do dryer balls reduce drying time?

Editor's Note: My 8th grade son, David, created a poster that he submitted to the 2013 ASA Poster Competition. The competition encourages students to display "two or more related graphics that summarize a set of data, look at the data from different points of view, and answer specific questions about

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A fractal Christmas tree in SAS

In my previous post, I described how to implement an iterated function system (IFS) in the SAS/IML language to draw fractals. I used the famous Barnsley fern example to illustrate the technique. At the end of the article I issued a challenge: can you construct an IFS whose fractal attractor

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Iterated function systems and Barnsley's fern in SAS

Fractals. If you grew up in the 1980s or '90s and were interested in math and computers, chances are you played with computer generation of fractals. Who knows how many hours of computer time was spent computing Mandelbrot sets and Julia sets to ever-increasing resolutions? When I was a kid,

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Playing "craps" with unfair dice

Last week I wrote a SAS/IML program that computes the odds of winning the game of craps. I noted that the program remains valid even if the dice are not fair. For convenience, here is a SAS/IML function that computes the probability of winning at craps, given the probability vector

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Dice probabilities and the game of "craps"

Gambling games that use dice, such as the game of "craps," are often used to demonstrate the laws of probability. For two dice, the possible rolls and probability of each roll are usually represented by a matrix. Consequently, the SAS/IML language makes it easy to compute the probabilities of various

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Open question in 1937...short SAS program today

John D. Cook posted a story about Hardy, Ramanujan, and Euler and discusses a conjecture in number theory from 1937. Cook says, Euler discovered 635,318,657 = 158^4 + 59^4 = 134^4 + 133^4 and that this was the smallest [integer]known to be the sum of two fourth powers in two

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Construct a magic square of any size

Magic squares are cool. Algorithms that create magic squares are even cooler. You probably remember magic squares from your childhood: they are n x n matrices that contain the numbers 1,2,...,n2 and for which the row sum, column sum, and the sum of both diagonals are the same value. There are many

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A statistically beautiful Father's Day

To celebrate special occasions like Father's Day, I like to relax with a cup of coffee and read the newspaper. When I looked at the weather page, I was astonished by the seeming uniformity of temperatures across the contiguous US. The weather map in my newspaper was almost entirely yellow

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A SAS Christmas tree

A few colleagues and I were exchanging short snippets of SAS code that create Christmas trees and other holiday items by using the SAS DATA step to arrange ASCII characters. For example, the following DATA step (contributed by Udo Sglavo) creates a Christmas tree with ornaments and lights: data _null_;

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The distribution of flavors in Halloween candies

Halloween night was rainy, so many fewer kids knocked on the door than usual. Consequently, I'm left with a big bucket of undistributed candy. One evening as I treated myself to a mouthful of tooth decay, I chanced to open a package of Wonka® Bottle Caps. The package contained three

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The great Christmas gift exchange revisited

One aspect of blogging that I enjoy is getting feedback from readers. Usually I get statistical or programming questions, but every so often I receive a comment from someone who stumbled across a blog post by way of an internet search. This morning I received the following delightful comment on