Algebra: From Broken Bones To Twitter Feuds
When a high school student asked a question about algebra on TikTok, she unknowingly awoke an age-old debate in mathematics history.
When high schooler Gracie Cunningham posted a TikTok of herself asking where algebra came from, she probably didn’t expect to become a viral sensation. There were the usual Twitter trolls, but some unexpected voices also began piping up, causing a flurry in the math world.
Thank you to Chad, the listener who suggested that we do an episode on algebra. If you have a suggestion for a word or episode, leave us a voicemail. The number is 929-499-WORD, or 929-499-9673. Or, you can always send an email to email@example.com.
Steven Strogatz is a Professor of applied mathematics at Cornell, and Visiting Professor at National Museum of Mathematics.
Eugenia Cheng is a mathematician and Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the author of x + y: A Mathematician’s Manifesto for Rethinking Gender.
Read Eugenia Cheng’s full response to Gracie.
Take a peek at al-Khwarizmi’s The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing.
This episode was produced by Johanna Mayer and Lauren Young. Our Editor and Senior Producer is Elah Feder. Daniel Peterschmidt is our Composer. Danya AbdelHameid contributed fact checking. Our Chief Content Officier is Nadja Oertelt
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