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Aperiodical News Roundup – October 2020

Here’s a roundup of mathematical stories from the month that’s just been.

Actual Maths News

Opening with some computer science news: Anna R. Karlin, Nathan Klein and Shayan Oveis Gharan have published a very slightly better solution to the Travelling Salesman problem than any we had before. Their paper is on the arXiv, titled A (Slightly) Improved Approximation Algorithm for Metric TSP. It’s a proper achievement, if it works out. If you want to understand it just about well enough to bluff your way at the CS department’s Christmas party, Quanta magazine is, as ever, the place for that.

Mark Tomforde has blogged about a case of an obvious crackpot paper being published in the prestigious Taylor & Francis journal Communications in Algebra. (via Francesca Arici on Twitter)

The Royal Society has put out a call for views on the future of maths education.

Sam Shah has shared an open letter about concerns to do with race and class discrimination as well as poor management at MoMath, New York’s museum of maths. (via Sam Shah on Twitter)

Michael Morley has died, leaving behind a legacy in mathematical logic and a quite moving obituary. (via Richard Elwes on Twitter)

Don Steward died earlier this year. His family have posted all his maths education resources on his blog, MEDIAN, as well as a page to raise funds to support education in Africa. (via Colin Wright on Twitter)

Tom Lehrer, who’s not dead yet, has released his songs into the public domain. (via


This year’s Nobel prize in physics was awarded to Roger Penrose

Erica Klarreich, who wrote the article about the travelling salesman problem at the start of this round-up, has won the JPBM Communications award for her outstanding work in maths journalism. John Bailer, Richard Campbell and Rosemary Pennington also receive the award for their work on the Stats + Stories podcast.

Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin gets this year’s Maths Week Award for Raising Public Awareness of Maths.

People Who Have Books Out

There were a lot of new maths books this month! Plenty of fodder for a Christmas in lockdown.

Ernő Rubik has written a memoir titled Cubed: The Puzzle Of Us All.

Cover of Paradoxes: Guiding Forces in Mathematical Exploration

18-year-old author Hamza Alsamraee has published a second book, Paradoxes: Guiding Forces in Mathematical Exploration. (via Ben Orlin on Twitter)

Cover of Molly and the Mathematical Mystery

Eugenia Cheng has written a book for children, Molly and the Mathematical Mystery.

Cover of Hello Numbers! What Can You Do?

Edmund Harris has also written a children’s book. His is called Hello Numbers! What Can You Do? It’s out on the 10th of November.

Illustrating Mathematics cover image

There’s a book to go with the recent Illustrating Mathematics programme at ICERM, collecting the state of the art in mathematical art. It’s edited by Diana Davis, of Dance Your PhD fame. (via Diana Davis on twitter)

Cover of Why Study Mathematics?

Vicky Neale has written a book aimed at people considering studying maths at university, imaginatively titled Why Study Mathematics?

Cover of The Language of the Universe

Colin Stuart has a new book, called The Language of the Universe: A Visual Exploration of Maths

Things You Can Watch And Do Online

Mathematical artist Clarissa Grandi is running an online workshop on Christmas Geometry. (via Japleen Kaur on twitter)

A recent episode of BBC’s In Our Time was about Alan Turing.

There was a Black Heroes of Mathematics Conference in October. The talks are now available to watch online.

The Limit by Freya Smith and Jack Williams

Sophie Germain musical The Limit will be streamed online in November. (via Alex Cutbill on twitter)

There’s a gang trying to set up a maths museum in Seattle. To get things moving, they’re running a “Lunch + Learn and Happy Hour” on November 2nd. (via Benjamin Leis on twitter)

The Gathering4Gardner foundation is running a fundraiser auction to recover funds lost due to postponing this year’s real-life meeting. gathering4gardner fundraiser auction (via @WWMGT on twitter)

Cover of Chalkdust magazine issue 12

Issue 12 of imagine-if-the-aperiodical-was-run-by-competent-people-with-spare-time magazine Chalkdust is out.

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