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Holo-Math sounds pretty wild

Any project which manages to make Cédric Villani look even more like a time traveller gets my immediate attention. Look!

HOLO-MATH’s website is short on firm details, but it seems to be something to do with using Microsoft’s HoloLens VR goggle thingies to make interactive VR maths “experiences”. Here’s the blurb:

HOLO-MATH is an international project to produce immersive live experiences in mathematical sciences using the latest mixed reality technology.

It’s the first project to use state of the art technology for scientific knowledge transfer in a museum environment and on a large scale.

The experiences are presented in science museums/centers and at special events. They are targeted at groups of 20 participants led by human guides and virtual avatars. New forms of augmented visualization and interaction are core features. The audio-visual experience is of the highest quality.

In different HOLO-MATH experiences, participants will be able to play, discover, experiment and learn about science history and current research.

There’s more information on holo-math.org, and some pictures of be-goggled guests at the project’s launch on the hashtag #holomath.

maths 4 maryams

Here’s a nice thing: in memory of Maryam Mirzakhani, Amir Asghari has set up Mathematics 4 Maryams, a site with the aim of inspiring and motivating future Maryams by linking them with “maths mates”.

Tim Gowers says it’s

a website in memory of Maryam Mirzahkani. I don’t mean that it is a memorial website: rather, it has taken an important aspect of her life — her interaction with other like-minded mathematicians at a young age — and aims to facilitate such interactions for others, by the setting up of maths4maryams groups.

In short, you sign up to the website, either start or join a group, and solve maths problems together. In particular, they’re proposing Mirzakhani’s birthday, the 12th of May, as “Mathematics Friendship Day”, when friends solve maths problems together.

More information at maths4maryams.org

via Tim Gowers on Google+

MathType and WIRIS Join Forces

A little bit of news for those who, through necessity or ignorance or unique personal whimsy, use a WYSIWYG editor for putting equations into computers.

WIRIS, whose technology is used in things like the virtual learning environment Blackboard, have bought Design Science, makers of MathType. MathType became the de facto standard equation editor for Microsoft Word back before its built-in solution was any good, but has somewhat stagnated recently. The press release says, “by combining our teams we will now be able to offer education, scientific and publishing communities newer products at a fast pace”. I think that’s a long way of saying they’re not going to duplicate their efforts any more.

More information: Press Release from Design Science.

via Emma Cliffe on Twitter.

New podcast takes a look at Maths at the Movies

Thomas Woolley has written in to tell us about the new podcast he’s launched with a couple of friends.

It’s called “Maths at: the Movies” (I suspect the colon is leaving them wiggle room to look at other media) and features co-hosts Thomas and Ben M. Parker chatting about films with “interested observer” and asymptotically anonymous woman “The Wonderful Liz”.

Scenes at a maths conference

We’re all trying to combat the stereotypes of mathematicians: we try our best to make our work accessible to the public; we wear clean clothes and make eye contact; some of us even had the good sense to be female. But sometimes, the woolly-headed mathematician of legend materialises in his pure form.

Here, in his own words, are a few things that happened at a conference recently attended by one of my friends.

P might not be NP, reckons Norbert Blum

Norbert Blum of Universität Bonn has uploaded to the arXiv a preprint of a paper claiming to resolve the problem of whether $\mathrm{P} = \mathrm{NP}$, in the negative.

“Proofs” one way or the other turn up on the arXiv pretty much every day, but this one might actually be correct. At least, it’s not immediately obvious it isn’t.

Here’s the abstract:

Berg and Ulfberg and Amano and Maruoka have used CNF-DNF-approximators to prove exponential lower bounds for the monotone network complexity of the clique function and of Andreev’s function. We show that these approximators can be used to prove the same lower bound for their non-monotone network complexity. This implies $\mathrm{P} \neq \mathrm{NP}$.

John Baez has very quickly put together a post explaining the very basics of Blum’s argument.  Even more briefly, Blum claims to have shown that the best-case complexity of a function solving the clique decision problem is exponential, not polynomial.

Colin Wright reckons that the proof passes all of Scott Aaronson’s immediate ‘sniff tests’ for a claimed proof of a big problem, and his supplementary list for proofs to do with P versus NP. Those help you spot charlatans and Walter Mitty types, rather than looking at the actual mathematical content.

Obviously, none of us are qualified to even offer a hot take on this, so we’ll all have to wait until more experienced sorts have had a good look.

So, watch this space.

(Personally, my money is on this not quite working, purely based on my natural pessimism)