Math + Hangman

hang me

Check out this post on Mathematica’s blog. It’s one of the best I’ve read in a while. Ever wondered what the best hangman words are? Did you even know that you cared? It’s amazing how strange, interesting, and beautiful a smart and creative person can make the ordinary. I call this the Jerry Seinfeld school of mathematics. It reminded me of this Dan Meyer post, tackling the problem of which line to get into at the grocery store.


  1. I wonder if Tunxis should buy Mathematica. Could we use it in our classes? It can do just about *anything*. I have not looked into the pricing structure too much yet but do know a student can get a full version for something like $134. It’s of course more expensive for hobbyists, for home users etc. And I expect a server-based version would not be cheap. There is, as I expect you know, a free Mathematica player, which processes .cdf (Computable Document Format) files and .nb (notebook) files. This allows you to view source and documentation of Mathematica programs.

    The link to the source code for Hangman Word Game for a Human Player is currently broken. I have been corresponding with both the author and Wolfram and it should be fixed in a few days.

  2. It can be used. What has kept me away is precisely the fact that the demonstrations aren’t viewable on the web without the player. Mathematica has done a great job a closing the gap between software and cloudware, but they’re not there yet. Now if they would host any demonstration/notebook so you could simply embed it in any page, it would be start being an interesting option for me. It’s always a tradeoff between the power of software and the ’sharability’ and collaborative potential of cloudware. I seem to lean more toward the cloudware side. Dito for programs like geometer’s sketchpad and the like.

  3. The download link for the hangman game (see above) has been repaired. One observation I have made that goes along with the concerns you express is that the demonstrations don’t seem to work under the Linux distribution I am using. I’ve mentioned this to the fellow who fixed the link. He’s looking into this. According to the Wolfram site, Mathematica 8 works under Ubuntu 7-10. I’m running Ubuntu 11. It would be way better if it were embeddable, I agree.

  4. I love that you track all this stuff down. You’re my hero. I hope this goes somewhere both for Ubuntu users and web 2.0 users.

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