Plot.ly is a fairly comprehensive tool for creating whizzy interactive charts from data. It provides a suite of tools to make a whole range of different types of charts.

Until now, it’s been a web service you send data away to in order to get a chart back. I’d always been wary of that, because I worry about what happens when Plotly the company gets sold off or goes bust, and plot.ly the service gets shut down.

Well, now I can use a little bit of plot.ly, because they’ve released the bit of the chart-drawing code that runs in your browser under the MIT open source licence, meaning anyone can use it independently of Plotly’s servers.

With just the open-source stuff, the process of creating a chart is quite torturous because you have to define what you want by following a fairly illegible JSON schema. That means there’s still a reason to use the proprietary stuff that gives you a nice interface from Python or R, though I suppose people will soon enough start making their own versions of those that just tie into the Javascript stuff.

Where do old issues of MSOR Connections live online these days? @peterrowlett?

— Christian Perfect (@christianp) November 26, 2015

It’s complicated, but here is what I know.

Volumes 1-12 (actually 0-12, if you include the ‘Maths, Stats and OR’ newsletter published in 2000 as volume 0) were published by the Maths, Stats and OR Network, which I worked for in its dying days. At that point, the website previously at mathstore.ac.uk was archived by the Plymouth International Centre for Statistical Education at icse.xyz/mathstore. It’s still there, so you can still get volumes 1-12 (published 2001-2012) via its Newsletter archive, which acts as a by-issue index of individual PDFs.

MSOR Connections was relaunched as a peer-reviewed journal by the Higher Education Academy in 2013. These were online at journals.heacademy.ac.uk, and indeed that is currently still where the DOI links direct you, but that site was taken down earlier this year in favour of the Knowledge Hub. So if you know the name of an article, you can find it there – though I’m not sure there is a contents listing of issues.

However, there’s a catch. When I spent some time earlier this year comparing the online archives with my printed copies, I found that not every article is available. Volume 13 appears entirely available in the Knowledge Hub. For volumes 1-12, my fairly blunt approach was basically to look at the articles on mathstore and then, if the number of PDFs differs from the number of articles in my print copy of that issue, investigate why. Mostly that happened because articles were combined in the same PDF, but there were a few times (to my surprise) where the mathstore version missed some articles. In such cases, I was able to find most of the missing articles in the HEA Knowledge Hub. (There are also articles not in the Knowledge Hub that do appear on mathstore; it’s a mess.) Most frustratingly, I couldn’t find the following articles in PDF on either archive:

- ‘The False Revival of the Logarithm’ by Colin Steele 7(1):17-19 (I have found an author pre-print);
- ‘PowerPoint Accessibility within MSOR Teaching and Learning’ by Sidney Tyrrell 7(1):26-29;
- ‘Have You Seen This? RExcel – An interface between R and Excel’ by John Marriott 7(1):43;
- ‘Book Review – SPSS for Dummies’ by Arthur Griffin by Sidney Tyrrell 8(4):38-39.

These are not on the mathstore site or the Hub, but appear in my print copies. If you can locate electronic copies of any of these I would be pleased to hear it.

Volume 13 was the only volume published before the HEA finished publishing MSOR Connections and agreed to release the title back to a group coordinated by sigma and the University of Greenwich. I am one of the editors of MSOR Connections in its current form, and you should find volume 14 (published in 2015) onwards indexed on the Greenwich journals website.

]]>

You can ask Clever Hans your own questions! Go to christianp.github.io/clever-hans and make sure your microphone is turned on. Another proviso: I think only Google Chrome supports the special technology I used to make Hans work. Sorry!

I’ll explain how Hans does his horsey magic below the fold.

The real Clever Hans has always fascinated me. He was a horse owned by a German maths teacher, who discovered that Hans could count, do calculations with fractions and dates, and perform all sorts of other clever tricks. A New York Times article from the time titled “Berlin’s Wonderful Horse” is rather breathless in its praise of Clever Hans.

A while ago, I had the idea of making a new Clever Hans, not by training a real horse (too expensive; have to muck out too regularly) but by making a robot (very cheap; fewer ethical quandaries) that can listen for questions and answer them using a computery brain.

My long term plan is to stick a Raspberry Pi and a motor or two inside a model horse, but for now I’ve encased a pixelated horse in the web page I linked to above. Here’s how it works:

I use the experimental Web Speech API, which currently only works in Google Chrome, to do speech recognition. I pass the transcript of the speech recognition to a grammar written using PEG.js, which at the moment looks like this:

Expression = ("clever hans "/"") question:question { return question } question = question:("what is"/"what's"/"can you tell me"/"") " "? terms:terms { return {question: "calculate", terms: terms} } terms = n:atom ops:(space op:op space {return op})* { return [n].concat(ops)} op = "all "? "squared" { return {op:"squared"} } / op:binaryop " "? n:atom { return {op:op, n:n} } atom = n:number space op:("squared"/"cubed"/"factorial") { return {op:op,n:n} } / ("the square root of"/"root"/"route"/"√") " "? n:number {return {op:"sqrt", n:n } } / op:(gcd/lcm) space a:terms space "and" space b:terms { return {op:op, a:a, b:b} } / number binaryop = add / multiply / subtract / divide / power add = ("+"/"add"/"plus") {return "+"} multiply = ("×"/"x"/"times"/"multiplied by") {return "*"} subtract = ("-"/"minus"/"take away"/"takeaway"/"take-away") {return "-"} divide = ("÷"/"divided by"/"over") {return "/"} power = ("^"/"to the"/"to the power of") {return "^"} gcd = ("the greatest common factor of"/"the greatest common divisor of"/"the gcd of"/"the gcf of"/"the biggest number that divides") { return "gcd" } lcm = ("the least common multiple of"/"the lcm of"/"the smallest multiple of both") { return "lcm" } space = " "* number = digits:([0-9]+) { return {number: parseInt(digits.join(''))} } / "one" {return {number: 1}} / ("two"/"to"/"too") {return {number: 2}} / "three" {return {number: 3}} / ("four"/"for") {return {number: 4}} / "five" {return {number: 5}} / "six" {return {number: 6}} / "seven" {return {number: 7}} / ("eight"/"ate") {return {number: 8}} / "nine" {return {number: 9}} / "zero" {return {number: 0}}

After I run the transcript through that, I get a data structure which I can evaluate to a number, and then make Hans count it out by playing some sounds and animations.

Note that the grammar for arithmetic operations doesn’t follow the normal order of operations – it just works left-to-right (or earliest to latest, since this is speech), accumulating a single value. Spoken maths is a very interesting topic – Katie and I had a very interesting conversation with Edmund Harriss about it in the first episode of our All Squared podcast.

It’s difficult to specify exactly what you want an operation to apply to, in speech. For example, “five plus two squared” could either mean $5 + 2^2$ or $(5+2)^2$. you can do stuff like saying “all squared” to mean the second option, but even that isn’t enough, and it turns out we use rhythm and pauses to define grouping, which I don’t think I can pick up using the Web Speech API.

A few years ago, I met some people at Kingston University who were looking into a “speech user interface for mathematics”, called TalkMaths. They were trying out all sorts of complicated grammars and parsing schemes, which I’m not willing to do for a weekend project!

Anyway, I reckon the amount my Clever Hans can understand is pretty darn good for a horse.

At the moment, Hans can only perform arithmetic calculations in the integers. In the future, I’d like to replicate the other tricks the original Hans could do – calendar calculations and so on – as well as get him to answer questions like “what comes next in the sequence 1,2,3,5,8,…” by querying the OEIS.

*PS: Years and years ago, when I wanted to be a computer game developer, I found this horse sprite and used it to make this. It was the pinnacle of my game-making career, and I decided I couldn’t do any better so I should become a mathematician instead. I’m glad I finally found a way of making the horsey even nicer.*

The format, wholly original and not in any way ripped off by Colin and Dave from anywhere else, saw two teams compete by giving correct and incorrect definitions of a word for the other team to determine^{1} who was telling the truth and who was bluffing. Team members challenged the other team to ‘call my bluff’, as it were.

There were three rounds, in which the teams defined first a mathematician, then a constant, then a theorem. Colin’s team included Dominika Vasilkova along with The Aperiodical’s own Christian Lawson-Perfect, with Elizabeth A. Williams and Nicholas Jackson opposing them on Dave’s team.

**Ways to listen**: Listen online. Download. Get the podcast via RSS or via iTunes.

If you enjoy this, you might like other episodes of Wrong, But Useful. At least that’s what Colin’s WordPress thinks:

@icecolbeveridge insightful stuff from WordPress here. pic.twitter.com/Eq8tQheUeJ

— Peter Rowlett (@peterrowlett) November 23, 2015

- i.e. guess

We’ve been slow to cover this, but if this week has taught us anything, it’s that taking your time over Important Maths News is always a good idea.

A couple of weeks ago, rumours started circulating around the cooler parts of the internet that László “Laci” Babai had come up with an algorithm to decide if two graphs are isomorphic in quasipolynomial time. A trio of mathematicians including Tim Gowers were on BBC Radio 4’s *In Our Time* discussing P vs NP while these rumours were circulating and made a big impression on Melvyn Bragg as they talked so excitedly about the prospect of something big being announced.

If Babai had done what the rumours were saying, this would be a huge advance – graph isomorphism is known to be an NP problem, so each step closer to a polynomial-time algorithm raises the P=NP excite-o-meter another notch.

And it looks like he’s done it! Babai presented the first part of his work in a seminar at the University of Chicago on the 10th of November. Gabe Gaster, who attended the talk, live-tweeted it. You can relive the excitement with a Storify of the whole thing. Is this the first live-tweeting of a groundbreaking mathematical advance?

Answering the Graph isomorphism pic.twitter.com/7VaX06oPH9

— Gabriel Gaster (@gabegaster) November 10, 2015

Babai has also put the video of his talk on his homepage. It’s 100 minutes long, and if you want to skip to the bit where the audience breaks into the restrained applause that Hollywood will re-enact as a standing ovation ending in Babai being carried out of the building by his peers, it’s at 1:34:45.

So, how did he do it? Lots of finite group theory. Jeremy Kun has written a very good blog post explaining the broad outline of the proof. I’ll nab this theorem statement from Jeremy:

Theorem:There is a deterministic algorithm for GI which runs in time $2^{O(\log^c(n))}$ for some constant $c$.

I won’t pretend I’ve read even Jeremy’s summary in detail (I’ve got a dog and a wife to feed tonight) but I enjoy the term “split-or-Johnson routine” purely because it could easily be a Nicholas brothers dance. László has given one more talk and is scheduled to do another, titled “A little group theory goes a long way: the group theory behind recent progress on the Graph Isomorphism problem” and “Graph Isomorphism in Quasipolynomial Time II: The ‘Split-or-Johnson routine'”. I don’t think anyone has live-tweeted those though, so we’ll have to wait until the full solution appears in writing to find out all the nitty-gritty.

We also have to wait to find out if Babai is even right – as his homepage says, none of this has been peer-reviewed yet! But for now, we’ve got a lot of new ideas that definitely represent a big breakthrough.

]]>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.

]]>Who could have guessed that this non-story about somebody being out of his depth and quite obviously wrong would get so out of hand? Here’s an update on The Continuing Tale Of The Man Whose Claims Couldn’t Be Verified.

- Telegraph ran with it, but later quietly updated to say Enoch “claims” to have solved the problem. Colin Wright wasn’t impressed.
- Independent, illustrated with a picture of a blackboard showing mathematics written in Amharic, the Ethiopian script. (Please say they didn’t just search for “africa mathematics” on Getty Images and take the first photo without any women or children in it)
- Daily Mail ran with it, and plagiarised a Numberphile video to boot (now removed).
- india.com can’t contain its amazement.
- The Metro had a story, but have quietly deleted it. Oh, the fast-moving world of journalism!

All the points to CNN, whose first piece was skeptical about his claims (they’ve since rewritten it, with a response from Enoch – more on that later). Points awarded and then immediately taken away from Quartz, who ran a piece about how Enoch had “fooled the British media”, but illustrated it with a picture of a completely unrelated South Sudanese school teacher.

The Riemann hypothesis isn’t a completely obscure mathematical problem that nobody has heard of outside a few ivory towers. I found stories on entertainment.ie and Boing Boing that refer to the problem, published in the days before Enoch’s claim came out.

People come up with “proofs” of the Riemann hypothesis all the time. To show just how common this is, I searched for “riemann hypothesis” on arxiv.org, and came up with this lot:

- On the Riemann Hypothesis, by Gerasimos Pergaris in December 2012.
- Constructing a Proof of the Riemann Hypothesis, by Ross C. McPhedran in August 2013.
- A Geometric Proof of Generalized Riemann Hypothesis, by Kaida Shi in July 2003.
- The Riemann hypothesis proved, by Agostino Prástaro in May 2013.
- Proof of the Riemann’s hypothesis, by S.V. Matnyak in April 2014.
- The Riemann Hypothesis and the possible proof, by Jin Gyu Lee in February 2014.
- One from 2008 on slashdot.
- One from 2014 that we must have missed (and the world’s media didn’t latch on to)
- And just for a change, here’s someone who says the hypothesis doesn’t hold: Riemann hypothesis is not correct, by JinHua Fei in July 2014.

That’s just two pages into the search results. There are loads more.

By the way, this is not a claimed proof and it contains real maths, but the title is fascinating anyway: The Sound of Fractal Strings and the Riemann Hypothesis. Fractal strings!

We mentioned that Marcus du Sautoy had been on the Today programme to talk about the claims. Marcus has put the relevant excerpt on Soundcloud, for easy access:

Marcus swiftly poured water on the claim that Enoch’s proof has been accepted, and heroically managed to only plug his book *The Music of the Primes* twice.

Our piece seemed to become the critique of record for the whole story, so Katie Steckles was invited on Radio 4’s *More or Less* to explain what’s going on. Assuming it doesn’t get cut, that episode will be broadcast tomorrow.

And finally, the World Service updated the blurb underneath their interview with Enoch to add the following mollifying disclaimer:

(The interview was conducted with Dr Enoch on the basis that his solution is correct and that he has won the prize.)

To which I’d like to add: *(which it isn’t, and he hasn’t)*. I bet the reporter won’t make this mistake again!

The saga continues. Nigerian mathematician Opeyemi Enoch insists he HAS solved Riemann hypothesis. https://t.co/fwQfaOcwHI @aperiodical

— Alex Bellos (@alexbellos) November 19, 2015

CNN, one of the few outlets to lead with skepticism instead of blind acceptance of Enoch’s claims, has now talked to him. He’s repeated his claim that he has a proof. Furthermore, the conference organiser Nina Ringo (she of the fuzzy logic and poetry) has backed him up.

He’s still wrong, of course: much like being cool or not smelling like off milk, having a proof of a mathematical statement is something only *other people* can say about *you*, not something you can say about yourself.

Puzzlebomb is a monthly puzzle compendium. Issue 47 of Puzzlebomb, for November 2015, can be found here:

Puzzlebomb – Issue 47 – November 2015

The solutions to Issue 47 will be posted at the same time as Issue 48.

Previous issues of Puzzlebomb, and their solutions, can be found at Puzzlebomb.co.uk.

]]>The system is aimed at mathematics faculty/scientists, institutions, programs, postdocs/early-career mathematicians, postgrads, undergrads, high school students and teachers (so, pretty much anyone involved in maths), and we’ve cheekily used it to post a call for submissions of articles for our Irregulars column, where we feature guest posts from other authors.

Awards, Fellowships and other opportunities, at the AMS website.

]]>Here’s a tweet from Alex Bellos this morning:

BBC claims Nigerian solves Riemann Hypothesis, most famous problem in maths. Surely a hoax! https://t.co/Wkltfkh2P3 https://t.co/UHGy9W8shC

— Alex Bellos (@alexbellos) November 17, 2015

He’s right to be surprised – as reported in Vanguard, a Nigerian newspaper:

The 156-year old Riemann Hypothesis, one of the most important problems in Mathematics, has been successfully resolved by Nigeria Scholar, Dr. Opeyemi Enoch.

Suspicion levels are raised, as the paper also reports:

Three of the [Clay Millenium Prize] problems had been solved and the prizes given to the winners. This makes it the fourth to be solved of all the seven problems.

Unless we missed something, that’s not massively true – the only Millennium Prize problem solved so far is the Poincaré conjecture.

So who is this Nigerian mathematician? Dr Opeyemi Enoch is a professor with the Federal University in Oye Ekiti, Nigeria. The article says:

Dr. Enoch had previously designed a Prototype of a silo for peasant farmers and also discovered a scientific technique for detecting and tracking someone on an evil mission.

So he straddles the disciplines, at least. This story is made more interesting by the presence of a serious interview with the BBC World Service (shocking behaviour) in which he’s even asked ‘What will you do with the $1 million?’.

Unfortunately, it looks like in this case it’s not a real proof of the Riemann Hypothesis, and this post on a Nigerian discussion forum says emphatically he has not solved it. As mentioned in that post, there’s a paper on academia.edu under his name, which is actually a copy of a paper by someone called Werner Raab (retired). Raab’s website – http://www.raab-math.at/ is empty, and has a single broken link to “the truth of the Riemann hypothesis”. Some digging reveals that that URL has never worked. Confusingly, Enoch seems to be gathering papers about the Riemann Hypothesis on academia.edu under his own name.

The “proof” was presented at this legitimate academic conference (yes, the URL is “computer.conference-site.com”) which does appear to have taken place – although the photos don’t seem to show the kind of turnout you’d expect for presenting a result of this magnitude. Here’s the proceedings of the conference (Enoch’s presentation is “A matrix that generates the point spectral of the Riemann Zeta function”). It also looks like the local organiser of the conference is quite a character. (What’s the deal with fuzzy logic and *definitely legitimate academic proceedings*?)

There’s another article denying the truth of the claim in Nigerian newspaper The Herald. Marcus du Sautoy has also been consulted, naturally (and taken the opportunity to plug his book, well done):

Has Riemann been proved? Check out my interview @BBCr4today Verdict: Music of the Primes doesn't need updating yet https://t.co/eKRWvVA3R2

— Marcus du Sautoy (@MarcusduSautoy) November 17, 2015

As a last-minute addition to the show, Marcus’ bit isn’t listed in the schedule, but you can listen to the whole episode on the BBC website.

So sadly, nobody’s cracked this 156-year old problem, although the method Enoch might be trying to use is one approach that is currently being tried by more well-known researchers – here’s some serious info about attempts to prove the Riemann hypothesis by looking at the zeros as eigenvalues of a Hermitian operator on a Hilbert space. Alain Connes also recently wrote a paper about how you might (and might not) go about actually solving it.

As always with such long-standing results, there are plenty of incorrect proof attempts – although the arXiv seems to have done a good job keeping out crank proofs of the Riemann Hypothesis recently (or, the cranks are on holiday). All our roving reporter CLP can find is this from August.

The last word on the subject should probably go to the Clay Mathematics Institute website, which at time of publication still says:

**Update 19/11/2015: **Coverage continues in “Riemann hypothesis not proved, part 2”!