On Wednesday I gave a talk at my university’s Postgraduate Research Forum, and took the opportunity to test out an activity I’d been mulling over. The idea was to get groups of people to work with a very short mathematical paper and find ways to restructure and lay the content out. This is a development from a previous idea.
The paper I used was this, a three-page paper by Mowaffaq Hajja. A_Very_Short_and_Simple_Proof_of_The_Most_Elementa
The results were quite interesting. The first group chose to make the main diagram in physical form, and then, interested by the arrowhead shape, folded a page of the paper to match.
The second set about organising the paper such that references to diagrams were placed next to the diagrams themselves, also using colour-coding and string to make such links more explicit. The string links themselves made another triangle. They also highlighted an interestingly emotive moment in the text.
The third group decided to reorganise the narrative of the paper, so that the history of the problem was given first, and the narrative progressed from there. They also placed the references as they occurred in the text.