#### Important information regarding the recent AMS power outage.

The transformer that provides electricity to the AMS building in Providence went down on Sunday, April 22. The restoration of our email, website, AMS Bookstore and other systems is almost complete. We are currently running on a generator but overnight a new transformer should be hooked up and (fingers crossed) we should be fine by 8:00 (EDT) Wednesday morning. This issue has affected selected phones, which should be repaired by the end of today. No email was lost, although the accumulated messages are only just now being delivered so you should expect some delay.

Thanks for your patience.

# Mathematical Digest

### Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics

in the Popular Press

"'Soft' Mathematics Can Help Us Understand the Human Mind," by Keith Devlin. *The Chronicle of Higher Education*, August 8, 1997, pages B4-B5

In this editorial, Devlin makes a case for the development of "soft mathematics," a blend of mathematics and the social sciences which he believes could provide "a new approach to understanding the mind." Artificial intelligence and Chomsky's work in mathematical linguistics were steps in this direction. That these efforts produced only partial understandings can be seen, for example, in the fact that VCRs are so hard to program: Something gets lost in the translation from social science research on the way people use machines, to the "mathematically precise blueprints that the design engineer needs." Soft mathematics could help to solve such problems, Devlin argues. He also calls for a new vision of education that eliminates artificial boundaries between science, social science, and the humanities.

*--- Allyn Jackson*