Math in the Media

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Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Greeks were slaves to the beat," by Philip Ball. Nature Science Update, 22 March 2002.

Mathematics is often applied to literature in order to assign authorship or detect plagiarism. This article tells of the use of information theory to quantify the difference in rhythmic complexity between Greek and Roman poetry. Roman poetry has been known to be more complex than Greek for some time but the quantification of the difference is new. One reason for the difference may be that Greek poetry was entirely oral and poems with simpler rhythms are easier to remember. Ball's article is based on a preprint titled "Increase of complexity from classical Greek to Latin poetry" by R. Mansilla and E. Bush.

--- Mike Breen