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Not mentioned on the Aperiodical, July 2015

Here’s a round-up of some of this month’s maths news.

The Princeton Companion to Applied Mathematics

Princeton Companion to Applied Mathematics - cover imageA group of applied mathematicians, including the University of Manchester’s Nick Higham, have been compiling a book on applied mathematics over the last few years, and they’ve announced it’s finally ready for publication. The book, which includes an introduction to applied mathematics, key concepts, and various examples of modelling problems, is aimed at undergraduate mathematicians and above (although some of the articles may be accessible to younger/lay readers) and comprises 186 articles by 165 authors from 23 countries. It’ll make a good companion (excuse the pun) to the Princeton Companion to Mathematics, edited by Tim Gowers and covering the pure end of the field. It will be published by Princeton University Press in September 2015.

English law hasn’t redefined the number one, but a journalist has discovered rounding

A recent court judgement which ruled that the range “1 to 25″ can include the value 0.51, if you round to the nearest integer.

That’s a little bit interesting – it will certainly make people think twice before writing numbers in patents – but it’s been reported in the most fantastically mathematically illiterate fashion in The Independent, by someone who seems to have discovered what ’rounding’ is in the course of their research.

Read: What exactly does ‘one’ mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue, in The Independent

(Via Tony Mann on Twitter)


No, it’s not what happens when you try to do maths under pressure and forget everything you ever knew about calculus – Mathesia is a new crowdsourcing platform for mathematics, which companies can use to pitch mathematical problems to their collection of maths experts, who can then bid to be awarded the project. It also has a section for universities to advertise research posts.

One thing that does make me sad is that the site extensively uses the word ‘brainies’ to describe the mathematicians, and it looks like the pitchers are adopting this as standard terminology. Bit naff, right?

Mathematical Scarves Kickstarter

If you like your accessories ‘provably unique’, check out this mathematically interesting Kickstarter project – KnitYak, aka Fabienne Serriere, is going to generate some knitting patterns for scarves algorithmically, so no two scarves will be the same. They’ve hacked a knitting machine to use cellular automata to generate unique black-and-white patterns, which will be knitted in merino wool using a Jacquard (double) knit, resulting in lovely well-finished pieces by the sound of things (although the scarves start from $150, so you’d expect something pretty nice).

Check out the video below, and consider chucking some money on the KnitYak Kickstarter page.

The Amazing World of MC Escher

M.C. Escher, not the DJ but the Dutch graphic artist, is well known as being hugely influenced by mathematics. His woodcuts, lithographs and mezzotints (me neither) contain everything from warped perspective and optical illusions that play around with notions of distance and space, to beautiful tilings and tessellations with a distinctly mathematical flavour.

The first major UK show of Escher’s work has been put together by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, in Edinburgh, and includes nearly 100 works from the collection of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag in the Netherlands. It will be on display at the Scottish National Gallery from 27 June to 29 September, after which it’ll move to the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London from 14 October through to 17 January.

Both exhibitions have an entry cost, although there’s also a free event taking place at the Scottish National Gallery on 27 August, in which mathematician Professor Ian Stewart will talk about the mathematics in Escher’s work, apparently ‘in simple non-technical terms and with many illustrations’ (because people who go to art galleries presumably wouldn’t like it otherwise).

More information

The Amazing World of MC Escher, 27 June to 29 September, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Event – Escher: A Mathematician’s Eye View, Prof. Ian Stewart, 27 August, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

MC Escher, 14 October to 17 January 2016, Dulwich Picture Gallery

UK National Lottery: now 21% more balls (rounded up)

This week, it was announced that from October the UK’s National Lottery, currently operated by Camelot and already providing a veritable Merlin’s cave of probability lessons for maths teachers, will be changing the rules for its main ‘Lotto’ draw. The main changes are that a new £1m prize will be added to the raffle element you didn’t know already happens, and that matching two balls will win a free ‘lucky dip’ ticket in the subsequent draw. The fixed £25 prize for matching three balls remains on the round table (even though it sometimes causes hilarious number gaffes).

But the Sword of Damocles hanging over Camelot’s changes is that there will be an extra ten balls to choose six from (59 instead of 49), dramatically lengthening the odds of winning all of the pre-existing prizes. This is our round-up of the media’s coverage of this mathematical “news”.