Pi Day today which is also World Maths Day.

One might think that maths would be a field where there are right answers and wrong answers and embracing failure doesn’t help much. But one of my most memorable lectures in Predicate Calculus at university was on the notion of a “Proof by Contradiction”. This method is where instead of proving that a proposition is true, instead you prove that the direct opposite of the proposition is false (usually through identifying a contradiction).

My son Chase also shared this geeky example from the Numberphile vlog on the “10,958” solution. The process of seeking Countdown-esque combinations for large numbers is one where embracing failure becomes an invaluable tool, especially for a number that mathematicians had failed to find the solution for quite a while. Math maven Matt Parker comments…

  • “The only reason I found this [solution] is because I wasn’t afraid to try something where the odds were that I was going to fail miserably. I think that is the moral of the Parker Square. You give it go, even though it is probably not going to work. And you embrace it, you own it when it doesn’t work. Every now and then it does work out for you.”