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Aperiodical Round Up 10: a rathole down which valuable mathematical effort is being poured

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Ten! TEN! TEN! Incredible. David Cushing asked me a very good question once: what have you done between five and ten times (inclusive)? Well, this is the last time ‘Writing an Aperiodical Round Up’ will be in the same category as ‘getting a new wallet’ and ‘saying hello to Peter Beardsley’.

Hello, my name’s Christian Perfect and, more often than an unbiased observer would expect, I find odd maths things on the internet.

Make math ¬ war: American military invests in homotopy type theory

The Homotopy Type Theory book was an ambitious attempt to relay the foundations of maths on a combination of type theory and topology. It also makes heavy use of computer proof-checking, which might be why the US Department of Defense is interested in it: they’ve just given Carnegie Mellon University’s Steve Awodey $7.5 million to continue the project.

Here’s a snippet from the press release announcing the grant:

The MURI [Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative] award, officially entitled “Homotopy Type Theory: Unified Foundations of Mathematics and Computation,” is through the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. It will establish CMU as the international center of research in this new field, which uses a fusion of tools drawn from abstract mathematics, such as homotopy and category theory, and the powerful computational paradigms of type theory and program verification. The resulting new, computational foundation for mathematics is not only an important theoretical advance. It also promises to provide a useful practical tool for mathematicians and other scientists in the form of powerful computer systems that can automatically verify the correctness of large and complex mathematical proofs and organize and unify a large body of verified mathematical theory in a form that can be reused for other scientific purposes. Equally important is the promise of new applications in theoretical computer science through the use of abstract geometrical intuitions and methods.

More information

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon Awarded $7.5 Million Department of Defense Grant To Reshape Mathematics

Steve Awodey’s CMU homepage

Homotopy Type Theory

“Really Big Numbers” by Richard Evan Schwartz, the AMS’s first book for children

The American Mathematical Society has published its first book for children. It’s called Really Big Numbers.

They’ve made a rather pleasant trailer for it.

It made me want to wait for the audiobook version: author Richard Evan Schwartz has a soothing Bob Ross-like voice. (Edit: turns out the voice is Alexander Dupuis)

Really Big Numbers will be available from the AMS from the 12th of May, priced $25.

A new recreational mathematics magazine from the Ludus Association


Imagine, if you will, a group of people who enjoy recreational mathematics and consequently decide that there should be more places for them to share fun maths. It’s crazy and unprecedented, I know, but humour me.

Recreational Mathematics Magazine does what it says on the tin. It’s a semiannual electronic journal published by the Ludus Association addressing “games and puzzles, problems, mathmagic, mathematics and arts, history of mathematics, math and fun with algorithms, reviews and news.”

Get a grip on mathematical symbolism with Loughborough University

Here’s yet another intro to mathematical thinking MOOC. Loughborough University, and in particular Professor Tony Croft, is offering a course called “Getting a grip on mathematical symbolism” through the FutureLearn platform. It starts on the 28th of April.

There isn’t much information about the course online yet, apart from the brief description on the official website and this AV-services-tastic trailer:

Since everything to do with popular maths has to pun (see also: literally any other page on this site), I can only assume that the course will end with the construction of a robotic hand or high-friction surface.

Tony Croft has a good pedigree with online learning resources: for many years he’s been in charge of maths support at Loughborough, including the invaluable mathcentre support site.

More information

Getting a grip on mathematical symbolism at FutureLearn

Review(ish): Mathbreakers

We were first told about Mathbreakers a few months ago. It was at a very early stage of development, and it wouldn’t run on my PC. Now some time has passed, and I managed to run the most recent version last weekend. I’ve only played the demo, so a full review isn’t fair, but I thought I’d tell you about it in case you want to give it a go.

Warning: this post has like a bajillion animated GIFs in it. Your internet connection will suffer.

Mathbreakers is what I’d call an ‘edutainment’ game, though I think that term’s fallen out of favour. The developers, Imaginary Number Co., say it’s “a video game that teaches math through play”. It’s aimed at school kids, and deals with basic numeracy.