What We Are Reading Today: The Plaid Model

Updated 16 February 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: The Plaid Model

Author: Richard Evan Schwartz

Outer billiards provides a toy model for planetary motion and exhibits intricate and mysterious behavior even for seemingly simple examples. It is a dynamical system in which a particle in the plane moves around the outside of a convex shape according to a scheme that is reminiscent of ordinary billiards.
The Plaid Model, which is a self-contained sequel to Richard Schwartz’s Outer Billiards on Kites, provides a combinatorial model for orbits of outer billiards on kites, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. Schwartz relates these orbits to such topics as polytope exchange transformations, renormalization, continued fractions, corner percolation, and the Truchet tile system.
The combinatorial model, called “the plaid model,” has a self-similar structure that blends geometry and elementary number theory.
The results were discovered through computer experimentation and it seems that the conclusions would be extremely difficult to reach through traditional mathematics.


What We Are Reading Today: Doing Justice

Updated 24 March 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Doing Justice

Author: Preet Bharara

Preet Bharara’s book is divided into four sections: Inquiry, Accusation, Judgment, and Punishment.
Bharara, the one-time US federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, shows why each step of this process is crucial to the legal system.
Bharara uses anecdotes and case histories from his legal career — the successes as well as the failures — to illustrate the realities of the legal system, and the consequences of taking action. 
The book — an overview of crime, punishment and the rule of law — examines first how successful prosecutors select their cases and prepare the evidence they will use in court. 
It also shows “how we all need to think about each stage of the process to achieve truth and justice in our daily lives,” said a review published in goodreads.com.
“His case stories of how justice is done, and how it sometimes fails, are riveting,” it added.
“It is a thought-provoking, entertaining book about the need to find the humanity in our legal system — and in our society,” the review added.