Morning Mathematical Monsters & Maniacs!
(Today’s post is sponsored by the letter “M”)
Over the past 600+ episodes, The Simpsons has taken us on an amazing mathematical journey involving fractions, probability, Fermat’s last theorem, and hundreds of other aspects from the wonderful world off mathematics.
And what better way to start your week, then by discussing math Monday morning?
In honour of last nights The Simpsons episode, we take a look at one of my favourite aspects of mathematics, factorials.
In last nights Livin’ La Pura Vida (Season 31, Episode 07), The Simpsons join other Springfield families on the Van Houten’s annual trip to Costa Rica. We see them all gather at Springfield airport at gate 24.
So let’s look at one of the properties of the number 24.
Factorials are the products of all positive integers less than or equal to the number for which we are calculating the factorial. Factorials are denoted by the notation n!, where n is the number for which we are calculation the factorial.
n! = n x (n-1) x (n-2) x … x 2 x 1
The first few factorials are:
1! = 1
2! = 2 x 1 = 2
3! = 3 x 2 x 1 = 6
4! = 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 24
5! = 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 120
6! = 6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 720
While factorials were used by Indian mathematicians dating back to the 12th century, it was French mathematician Christian Kramp who first used the notation n! in 1808 in his work Elements d’arithmétique universelle.
Not only is 4! equal to 24, which represents the gate the Simpsons boarded at for Costa Rica. But also 3! is equal to 6 which is the number of salt and pepper shakers Kirk has in his suitcase under his bed. And of course 2! is the number of people Marge wanted in her 1! Instagram photo at the falls.
And using an application of factorials, we can conclude that there were 5!, or 120, ways of arranging the 5 Simpsons family members sleeping in their hotel room.
Now that we’ve completed a look at factorials, why not show your love for math and factorials with your own Math Mayhem shirt or hoodie.
If you love math or enjoy reading these posts, don’t forget to stop by the Addicts Shop and check out all the paraphernalia, including the Math Mayhem shirts and hoodies.
Were you familiar with factorials? Can you figure out the next few factorials? Did you catch the episode last night? Have you been to Costa Rica? If so, which gate number did you board at? Sound off in the comments below. You know we love hearing from you.