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Victorian maths tricks with old money

Consider this problem from an 1869 Harvard entrance exam:

Find the amount of £50 12s. 5d. at simple interest at 8 per cent., at the end of 5 years 2 months and 3 days.That’s 50 pounds, 12 shillings and 5 pence we need to calculate 8 per cent of. Not a trivial question to work out by hand when you have to factor in how many pence there are in a shilling, as well as how many days there are in a month. Fortunately, T. Martin’s 1842 wonderful guide, Pounds, shillings and pence; or, A series of money calculations on a novel system, shows us some clever tricks which accountants such as Martin would use to work out problems like this without as much fuss as you’d think. Here, we’ll see why they work, as well.

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Is there a perfect maths font?

It’s decision time. Three, maybe four years of painstaking work have come down to this moment. You’re about to print your thesis. But before you click ‘print’, you have an important choice: What font should I pick?

Have a look at the three choices in the banner above. Can you pick a favourite? Which is the worst? What if you’re writing a school textbook: do you want something formal or friendly? Familiar or bespoke?

If we are to find our perfect maths font, we first have to examine the challenges we face when we try to print mathematics.

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