[seqfan] Re: wanted application of OEIS for man-in-street

William Keith wjk26 at drexel.edu
Wed Jul 21 04:50:58 CEST 2010

On Jul 20, 2010, at 9:32 PM, N. J. A. Sloane wrote:

> Someone I know is planning an article about the OEIS
> for a main-stream magazine. But the editor said, Huh? This
> is just lists of numbers, right? What's the big deal?
> Does anyone have an argument why the man-in-the-street
> should care about the OEIS?

Sound bite answer: "Pattern versus noise."  You have some data -- a sequence of numbers.  You suspect there is a pattern.  Mathematicians fit patterns to sequences in a lot of ways; they don't always work, some of them take a lot of effort, and maybe at the end of it you find that it's not what you expected.  So you can check to see if it is in the OEIS.  If your sequence really is a pattern that is useful to many working mathematicians, then it may already be there -- saving you a lot of work, perhaps.  If it isn't, but it still turns out to be a good pattern, you can add it yourself, and maybe help someone else out some day.


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