RG Studies Mathematical Ethics

October 18, 2009

The private school for very bright children presented a program to parents about their mathematics education. Random Granddaughter was supposed to demonstrate kindergarten math skills involving fractions. The sound system was faulty and produced loud feedback. Sensitive RG could not deal with the amplifier noise and fled to another room and started crying.

At the mommies house a few days after this unhappy experience, we talked about mathematics. Soon RG’s skills will outstrip mine, but I thought I might still have a useful tidbit to offer her.

I said, “Let me tell you how to divide a cookie fairly. One person divides the cookie. The other person gets to choose the half they want.”

RG understood the principle immediately. As she is a writer as well as a mathematician, she composed a parable about Mia and Alee. [Mia is her best friend who lives across the street; Alee is her younger sister.]

“Mia gets a cookie. She breaks it in half. She says to Alee, ‘You get to decide which piece you want.’”

“Exactly!” I said enthusiastically. “You can be sure that Mia will break the cookie very carefully, so both halves are very equal in size.”

Next week, RG goes on tour, lecturing to kindergarten classes across the country on the new field of mathematical ethics.

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2 Responses to “RG Studies Mathematical Ethics”

  1. David Says:

    That’s brilliant! Whole wars could be averted by using that principle.

  2. modestypress Says:

    As a child, I was much impressed by a very brief short story in Astounding Science Fiction about a diplomat who achieves world piece by getting fueding countries to settle minor disputes by flipping a coin. Gradually, this method of dispute resolution escalates until nations are solving big disputes in the same fashion.

    I think it could actually work.


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