Patrick Honner

Contributing Columnist

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Some Math Problems Seem Impossible. That Can Be a Good Thing.

November 18, 2020

Struggling with math problems that can’t be solved helps us better understand the ones we can.

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The Simple Math Problem We Still Can’t Solve

September 22, 2020

Despite recent progress on the notorious Collatz conjecture, we still don’t know whether a number can escape its infinite loop.

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The Math of Social Distancing Is a Lesson in Geometry

July 13, 2020

How to safely reopen offices, schools and other public spaces while keeping people six feet apart comes down to a question mathematicians have been studying for centuries.

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To Win This Numbers Game, Learn to Avoid Math Patterns

May 7, 2020

Sizing up patternless sets is hard, so mathematicians rely on simple bounds to help answer their questions.

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How Rational Math Catches Slippery Irrational Numbers

March 10, 2020

Finding the best way to approximate the ever-elusive irrational numbers pits the infinitely large against the infinitely small.

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How Simple Math Can Cover Even the Most Complex Holes

January 8, 2020

No one knows how to find the smallest shape that can cover all other shapes of a certain width. But high school geometry is getting us closer to an answer.

An illustration of a mathematician staring up at an infinite pile of cubes of varying sizes and colors.
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Why the Sum of Three Cubes Is a Hard Math Problem

November 5, 2019

Looking for answers in infinite space is hard. High school math can help narrow your search.

Two competitors are racing to solve the multiplication problem 25 times 63 in two separate lanes of a running track. One competitor is using the standard multiplication algorithm while the other is using Karatsuba method.
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On Your Mark, Get Set, Multiply

September 23, 2019

The way you learned to multiply works, but computers employ a faster algorithm.

Art for "Color Me Polynomial"
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Color Me Polynomial

August 13, 2019

Polynomials aren’t just exercises in abstraction. They’re good at illuminating structure in surprising places.

About the author

Patrick Honner teaches mathematics and computer science in New York City. He is a National STEM Teacher Ambassador, a Math for America master teacher and a recipient of the 2013 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. He is a frequent writer, speaker and presenter on mathematics and teaching.