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Dogs and/or Calculus

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form. Get a subscription now for only $25 a year!

(Image credit: Flickr user Dean Jackson

Research more or less in, on, or about dogs and/or calculus
by Otto Didact, Improbable Research staff

The College Mathematics Journal published a series of studies by humans who were chewing at the question of whether and how dogs do calculus. Here are some significant items from that series.

Do Dogs Know Calculus?” Timothy J. Pennings, The College Mathematics Journal, vol. 34, no. 3, May 2003, pp. 178-182.

(YouTube link)

Dogs Don’t Need Calculus,” Michael Bolt and Daniel C. Isaksen, The College Mathematics Journal, vol. 41, no. 1, January 2010, pp. 10-16. The authors implore:

Many optimization problems can be solved without resorting to calculus. This article develops a newvariational method for optimization that relies on inequalities. The method is illustrated by four examples, the last of which provides a completely algebraic solution to the problem of minimizing the time it takes a dog to retrieve a thrown ball, demonstrating that dogs don’t need calculus.

(Image credit: Flickr user Sebastian Sälzle)

“Do Dogs Know Calculus of Variations?” Leonid A. Dickey, The College Mathematics Journal, vol. 37, no. 1, January 2006, pp. 20-23

Do Dogs Know Bifurcations?,” Roland Minton and Timothy J. Pennings, The College Mathematics Journal, vol. 38, no. 5, November 2007, pp. 356-361

“Do Dogs Know the Trammel of Archimedes?” Mark Schwartz, The College Mathematics Journal, vol. 42, no. 4, September 2011, pp. 299-308

Do Dogs Know Related Rates Rather than Optimization?” Pierre Perruchet and Jorge Gallego, The College Mathematics Journal, vol. 37, no. 1, January 2006, pp. 16-19.


The article above is from the July-August 2015 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

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