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Donald Knuth’s 2017 Christmas lecture: “A Conjecture That Had To Be True”

Every year, Donald Knuth gives a Christmas lecture at Stanford.

This year, he wanted to talk about a conjecture he’s recently investigated.

It’s just over an hour long. Sit down with a warm drink and enjoy some interesting recreational maths from the master.

A winning competition

As part of this year’s MathsJam gathering, as for the last few years, we held a competition competition (you may have seen Peter’s recent post about his entry to the same event in 2014). My competition was the winner, and I thought I’d share with you some of the entries, as I very much enjoyed reading them all.

“Pariah Moonshine” Part III: Pariah Groups, Prime Factorizations, and Points on Elliptic Curves

In Part I of this series of posts, I introduced the sporadic groups, finite groups of symmetries which aren’t the symmetries of any obvious categories of shapes. The sporadic groups in turn are classified into the Happy Family, headed by the Monster group, and the Pariahs. In Part II, I discussed Monstrous Moonshine, the connection between the Monster group and a type of function called a modular form. This in turn ties the Monster group, and with it the Happy Family, to elliptic curves, Fermat’s Last Theorem, and string theory, among other things. But until 2017, the Pariah groups remained stubbornly outside these connections.

Review: The Maths Behind… by Colin Beveridge

The Maths Behind... front coverEd Rochead sent us this review of Aperiodipal Colin Beveridge’s latest pop maths book.

This book is written to answer the question ‘when would you ever use maths in everyday life?’ It therefore focuses on applied maths, across a surprisingly wide breadth of applications. The book is organised into sections such as ‘the human world’, ‘the natural world’, ‘getting around’ and ‘the everyday’. Within each section there are approximately ten topics, for which the maths behind some facet of ‘everyday life’ is explained, with cheerful colour graphics and not shying away from using an equation where necessary.

Carnival of Mathematics 152

The next issue of the Carnival of Mathematics, rounding up blog posts from the month of November, and compiled by TD, is now online at Chalkdust Magazine.

The Carnival rounds up maths blog posts from all over the internet, including some from our own Aperiodical. See our Carnival of Mathematics page for more information.

The Calculus Story – Interview with author David Acheson

The Calculus Story is the latest new book from author and mathematician David Acheson, telling the story of the history of calculus – with all the positive determinants and negative determinants along the way. The book came out on 23rd November through Oxford University Press. We spoke to David to find out what inspired him to tell the greatest (local maximum) story ever told.