Numberphile and Computerphile

Educational channels were all the rage at one point, and these are two of the best. Regularly posted content breaks down complex mathematics, computer history, and technology in ways that a layman can understand them. And thanks to some great production, they are more than just boring lectures with a whiteboard.

I am not a mathematician. I sometimes use maths when I am writing code, but when it comes to genuine mathematical theory I am, as most people are, completely lost. Numberphile, a channel created by Brady Haran, is an attempt to bridge the gap between mathematicians and non-mathematicians by explaining many mathematical theories.

It’s not just presented as a lecture though. Brady travels around and interviews real mathematicians and gets them to explain some of their favourite parts of the field. You can see the genuine excitement in the interviewees as they explain concepts on camera – these people really enjoy talking about maths. And that excitement is infectious, it gets YOU excited about maths.

One thing I really like about these videos is that Brady isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions. When something doesn’t make sense or it looks like there’s a contradiction, Brady will ask for an explanation. This makes Brady a stand in for his audience, and allows the interviewees to explain their subject in better detail. It adds a bit of a personal touch to the video, making it feel more like a conversation than a lecture.

Computerphile, Numberphile’s sister channel, focuses more on my own field: computers. But, as I am not an all-knowing savant, it covers a lot that I don’t know. There are videos covering the history of computers and programming, and complex topics such as AI, cryptography, programming and so on. Presented using a similar format to its sister channel, Brady interviews a lot of experts, some who are responsible for inventing the technology we use daily in the 21st century.

I’ve been watching these videos for years, and I’ve never felt bored or like I’m wasting my time. I’ll never be a mathematician or an expert at their level, but it’s nice to have access to and know what is out there.

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