You're reading: Posts By Colin Beveridge

Axes to Axes

In which the intrepid maths-crime-fighting duo of Gale and Beveridge find themselves thrust back to a time before people could do maths properly.


It had been a quiet night at the Aperiodical police station. Apart from a few cases of broken scheduling in Excel formulas – nothing a bit of TIME() in the cells wouldn’t put right – there was nothing.

At 11pm, the phone rang. I looked at Sergeant Gale. Sergeant Gale pointedly looked at the phone, raised an eyebrow, and returned to his sudoku.

“Maths Police, bad graphs department. Constable Beveridge speaking, how can I help?”

Matheliebe exhibition in Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein is a tiny, mountain-top country with the population of a medium-sized town and a football team routinely thrashed by everyone who encounters them (except for Scotland, of course). You’d be forgiven for thinking little ever happened there.

But you’d be wrong! There is maths in Liechtenstein! The National Museum in Vaduz (page in German) is hosting a pretty awesome-looking exhibition called MatheLiebe.

MathsWorldUK: plans for a UK maths museum

Mathematics is like marmite: either you love it or hate it. Most people who hate it do so because ‘it’s too hard’ or ask ‘what’s the point’, while those who love it tend to be those who use the subject in the workplace or are studying it. Will mathematics always be like this, or is there a way to change the perception of maths and make it more fun and appealing?

MathsWorldUK has a plan to develop a museum dedicated to mathematics in the UK. The idea behind this is to provide the public with a chance to see how mathematics is used within our society, and experience the discoveries mathematicians have made – for themselves.

English/Asian mathematics education comparison: what the IoE report actually says

According to a report by the University of London’s Institute of Education, the very best 10-year-old English students are as good at maths as their counterparts around the world, but have fallen behind by around two years by the time they reach their GCSEs.

Cue frothy-mouthed calls for more rigour and tougher exams, presumably since you can’t string people up for not being good at maths, even if it is the only language they understand. Cue also a great deal of “it’s all their fault” finger-pointing and insulting generalisations of the “of course, those Asians value study more highly” variety.

Crimewaves really are waves – but they can be stopped

Nothing puts your home insurance premium up like having been burgled in the past – because it means you’re more likely to be burgled again. Stanford researcher Nancy Rodríguez, with colleagues Henri Berestycki (who is first author, for the record) and Lenya Ryzhik, has developed a travelling waves model to explain this phenomenon – and, more importantly, how to stop it.

Crime, according to past research, tends to cluster in particular neighbourhoods – and even individual houses. Once a crime epicentre has been established, criminal activity tends to spread out in a wave pattern, gradually engulfing larger and larger areas.