You're reading: Posts By Paul Taylor

Measuring π with a pendulum

 

Matt Parker approximating pi using a pie

Friends of the Aperiodical, nerd-comedy troupe Festival of the Spoken Nerd, are currently on tour around the UK. As part of their show, questionably titled You Can’t Polish a Nerd, Matt Parker attempts to calculate the value of $\pi$ using only a length of string and some meat encased in pastry. He’s previously done this on YouTube, and the idea was inspired by the Aperiodical’s 2015 Pi Approximation Challenge, and in particular my own attempt to approximate $\pi$ with a (more conventional) pendulum.

HLF Blogs – The numbers behind the young researchers

This week, Katie and Paul are blogging from the Heidelberg Laureate Forum – a week-long maths conference where current young researchers in maths and computer science can meet and hear talks by top-level prize-winning researchers. For more information about the HLF, visit the Heidelberg Laureate Forum website.

The view on the boat deck - plenty of young researchers to corner!

The view on the boat deck – plenty of young researchers to corner!

Having extensively covered the talks and press conferences of the Laureates so far, we thought it was time to talk to some of the Young Researchers at this year’s HLF about the work they’re doing.

HLF Blogs – Leslie Lamport thinks your proofs are bad

This week, Katie and Paul are blogging from the Heidelberg Laureate Forum – a week-long maths conference where current young researchers in maths and computer science can meet and hear talks by top-level prize-winning researchers. For more information about the HLF, visit the Heidelberg Laureate Forum website.

Bad news: The Turing award winner and father of LaTeX thinks the proofs you (and everyone else) are writing are sloppy, non-rigorous and quite likely flat-out wrong. But there’s good news too: Sir Michael Atiyah is not quite so sure.

HLF Blogs – Math ⇔ Art: the Gosper curve

This week, Katie and Paul are blogging from the Heidelberg Laureate Forum – a week-long maths conference where current young researchers in maths and computer science can meet and hear talks by top-level prize-winning researchers. For more information about the HLF, visit the Heidelberg Laureate Forum website.

Running alongside the 5th HLF is an exhibition of mathematical art by the astrophysicist Aldo Spizzichino. He’s taken ideas from mathematics, and used his own set of programs (in Fortran, no less) to produce his images, a couple of dozen of which are on display in the Old University building a few steps from the forum. Although all the pieces were generating discussion as I looked round the exhibition on Sunday morning, I’ve picked two to talk a bit about, both based on the same piece of maths.

HLF Blogs – Vint Cerf’s press conference: in quotes

This week, Katie and Paul are blogging from the Heidelberg Laureate Forum – a week-long maths conference where current young researchers in maths and computer science can meet and hear talks by top-level prize-winning researchers. For more information about the HLF, visit the Heidelberg Laureate Forum website.

© Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation / Kreutzer – 2017

Vint Cerf, who along with Robert E Kahn won the ACM Turing Award in 2004 for his work on the TCP/IP protocols underpinning the Internet, is one of the Laureates at this year’s HLF. On Friday he’ll be giving a lecture on an ‘Interplanetary Internet’, the protocols needed to deal with the unique challenges posed by telecommunications in space. But on Monday afternoon he chatted to a small group of journalists and bloggers on a wide variety of topics. With apologies for anything I’ve mangled, here’s a short selection of quotes from the man himself.

Review: The Mathematics of Secrets by Joshua Holden

Any book on cryptography written for a more-or-less lay audience must inevitably face comparisons to The Code Book, written in 1999 by Simon Singh, the king of distilling complex subjects to a few hundred pages of understandable writing. While Singh’s book is a pretty thorough history of codes and codebreaking through the centuries with plenty of the maths thrown in, The Mathematics of Secrets is tilted (and indeed titled) more towards a fuller explanation of the mathematical techniques underlying the various ciphers. Although Holden’s book follows a basically chronological path, you won’t find too much interest in pre-computer ciphers here: Enigma is cracked on page seventy, and the name Alan Turing does not appear in the book.