This Summer, I’m trying something new: I’ve enlisted a few of my favourite mathematicians to take part in a tournament we’re calling
The Summer’s full of instant knock-out tournaments to identify the people at the apex of all sorts of avenues of achievement. I thought, I’ve got a load of fun maths friends, who always tell me about some cool new maths thing whenever I meet them, why not find out who knows the most fun maths?
The Big Internet Math-Off will be a four-round tournament pitting interesting maths things against each other. The mathematician who gives the most interesting thing, as decided by you, goes on to share another fun maths thing in the next round. In order to make the whole thing hang together, I’m going to call the person who wins The World’s Most Interesting Mathematician*.
* of the 16 people who I contacted, who were available in July, and wanted to take part.
I’ve asked the competitors to come up with maths topics they find interesting. I don’t need new things, or things that they came up with – just the kind of thing that you’d tell a fun maths friend about when you bump into them.
The tournament will start on the 1st of July. Each match will be a post here on The Aperiodical, where the two competitors will each make a pitch for something they find interesting. At the end there’ll be a poll where you can vote for the thing you found most interesting. Each poll will be open for 48 hours, and then the person with the most votes will advance to the next round.
Without further ado, here are the charming people who will be trying to out-nerd each other to victory:
- James Tanton – a prolific maths education thinker, inventor of Exploding Dots
- Nira Chamberlain – an applied mathematician and maths outreach expert
- Peter Rowlett – a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University and co-owner of The Aperiodical (I promise not to tip the vote in his favour)
- Alison Kiddle – works for NRICH, a maths resource site for school kids
- Tiago Hirth – a Mathemagician for the Circo Matemático (Mathematical Circus), part of the Ludus Association, and PhD student at the University of Lisbon
- Evelyn Lamb – a maths writer and co-host of the My Favorite Theorem podcast
- James Propp – a professor at University of Massachusetts Lowell and author of the Mathematical Enchantments blog
- Zoe Griffiths – a maths communicator for Think Maths
- Samuel Hansen – the host of the Relatively Prime podcast, among many others
- Paul Taylor – a finite group theorist, crossword setter, and frequent Aperiodical contributor
- Edmund Harriss – a mathematical artist and a professor at University of Arkansas. Among other things, co-author of Snowflake, Seashell, Star, a mathematical colouring-in book
- Colin Wright – maths communicator, organiser of the MathsJam Annual Gathering, the juggling guy
- Matt Parker – the ubiquitous stand-up mathematician
- Matthew Scroggs – a contributor to Chalkdust Magazine and keen recreational mathematician
- Jo Morgan – a maths teacher, and owner of the resource site resourceaholic.com
- Tony Mann – a lecturer at the University of Greenwich and maths outreach expert
You’ve got $(2^4-1) \times 2 = 30$ bits of fun maths to look forward to over the next month. I’m sure there’ll be some old favourites, and plenty of stuff you’ve never heard of – looking at the list of things that are going to come up, there were a fair few things I’d never seen before.
Of course, no Summer knock-out tournament would be complete without a wall-chart to print out and follow along at home, so I’ve made one:
The tournament begins on the 1st of July, with James Tanton facing off against Nira Chamberlain. Until then, tweet, toot and post your ideas for interesting bits of maths with the hashtag #bigmathoff.