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The Calculus of Friendship by Steven Strogatz

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Pursuit (1976)

Having finished the math courses offered by the school, I spent my senior year teaching myself, detached from Mr. Joffray. I’d sit alone for an hour every day in an empty classroom, reading a textbook on multivariable calculus or trying to rederive Huygens’s results about cycloidal pendulums.

At other times I did a kind of research, often about chase problems. These problems of pursuit, as mathematicians call them, completely captivated me.

The first one I ever heard of came from Mr. Joffray. It went like this: suppose a postman is trying to escape from a dog chasing him. The postman starts at the origin and runs away in a straight ...

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