Saturday , July 24 2021
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Newsletter: Mathematical objects from spreadsheets to auctions

Summary:
The Financial Times Magazine published my cover essay on the joys and sorrows of spreadsheets. It was great fun to write, and occasionally sobering, as I delved into the origins of Excel, the struggles of 14th century Italian merchants, the eradication of smallpox, and even quizzed Bill Gates about the 64K limit in the xls file format. (The piece will emerge on this website eventually.) Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett talked to me about my secret obsession, auctions and auction theory, on the Mathematical Objects podcast. Meanwhile Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast is back, and the new episode on Waymo is an absolute delight. No book review this week, as I spent most of my reading time either on books that haven’t yet been published or that are now out

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The Financial Times Magazine published my cover essay on the joys and sorrows of spreadsheets. It was great fun to write, and occasionally sobering, as I delved into the origins of Excel, the struggles of 14th century Italian merchants, the eradication of smallpox, and even quizzed Bill Gates about the 64K limit in the xls file format. (The piece will emerge on this website eventually.)

Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett talked to me about my secret obsession, auctions and auction theory, on the Mathematical Objects podcast. Meanwhile Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast is back, and the new episode on Waymo is an absolute delight.

No book review this week, as I spent most of my reading time either on books that haven’t yet been published or that are now out of print… but the reliably-interesting Ben Ho has a book out about the economics of trust that is likely to be worth reading.

In conversation with Robin Ince – a reminder that I’m talking to the wonderful Robin Ince online on Monday 5th July – please sign up and join us!

Tim Harford
Tim is an economist, journalist and broadcaster. He is author of “Messy” and the million-selling “The Undercover Economist”, a senior columnist at the Financial Times, and the presenter of Radio 4’s “More or Less” and the iTunes-topping series “Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy”. Tim has spoken at TED, PopTech and the Sydney Opera House and is a visiting fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford.

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