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Aperiodical News Roundup – March, April & some of May 2023

It’s been a busy few months! As per our name, here’s an aperiodically-timed round up of things that have happened in the world of maths in the last few months.

Maths Research Breakthroughs

According to Terry Tao, there’s been a big achievement in Ramsey theory. Tao says:

the long standing upper bound of $(4+o(1))^k$ of the size $R(k,k)$ of a graph required to force either a clique or independent set of size $k$ has finally been reduced to $(4-\varepsilon)^k$ for some positive constant $\varepsilon$. From what I understand, they have developed a new “Book algorithm” to more efficiently locate cliques and independent sets based on recursively finding companion graphs that they call “books”.

A later update adds that the argument gives $\varepsilon = 2^{-7}$. You can read the work directly in the ArXiV paper.

(via Terence Tao on Mastodon)

There’s also a Twitter thread in which Tim Gowers describes the experience of attending one of the Ramsey Theory seminars – the coauthors delivered seminars about it in different places – and calls the problem “perhaps the top open problem in extremal combinatorics”.

According to a New Scientist article (£), there’s been new research (from a paper on PsyArXiV) into different ways of projecting perspective onto a flat image, including how the human brain perceives it. New Scientist connects this to why the moon looks so small in photos versus reality, and how first person video games represent the world.

And of course the big news has been the discovery of the first true aperiodic monotile, described by Henry Segerman as “a shape that forces aperiodicity through geometry alone, with no additional constraints applied via matching conditions” (via Henry Segerman). As well as our own extensive write-up here, Andrew Stacey has announced that his development version of the TikZ library for drawing Penrose (and similar) tiles has been updated to include the new aperiodical hat and has also released an update focused on drawing the new polykite monotiles and clusters (announcements via Andrew Stacey on Twitter and Andrew Stacey on Mastodon).

Other Quick-Fire Maths News

Chalkdust banner reading 'Issue 17' with an image of the new front cover

People seeking things

The British Society for the History of Mathematics is asking for nominations for its Neumann Prize, awarded to a general interest history of maths book.

The PolyPlane project plans to create a beautiful art project featuring polyhedra arranged in a room by their numbers of faces, edges and vertices on three axes (which thanks to Euler’s identity, will all lie in a beautiful diagonal plane) and is seeking volunteers to make polyhedra to include in the work (via Henry Segerman)

The Bernoulli Center has issued a call for research program proposals in mathematics, theoretical physics and theoretical computer science. The deadline for submissions is 18th June 2023. (via Terence Tao)

Fluid dynamicists at the University of Leeds are running a photography competition, asking for students aged 7-14, in teams of up to 4, to submit a photo or collection of photos showcasing fluid dynamics phenomena in action. The closing date is 9th June.

The German mathematical union is offering two prizes for representing maths in the media, including a journalism prize and one for ‘for outstanding achievements in presenting mathematics to the public’, which can go to a non-journalist. (via Martin Skrodzki)

And 3Blue1Brown himself, Grant Sanderson, has launched this year’s Summer of Mathematical Exposition competition, awarding prizes for the best online maths explanations. The closing date is 18th August, and more details are available on the SOME website.

Awards & Events

It’s been awards season! Luis Caffarelli has won the 2023 Abel prize, C.R. Rao has been awarded the 2023 International Prize in Statistics and the IMA Gold Medal 2022 has been awarded to mathematical biologist Philip Maini.

Ukraine was awarded best European team at the European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad 2023, which took place in April in Slovenia. Слава Україні! (via Rob Corless)

MathsCity in Leeds has announced a half-term board games event from from Saturday 27th May – Sunday 4th June (tickets available on their website), with chances to play some favourite mathematical board games including Laser Maze, Genius Square and Rush Hour.

Talking Maths in Public logo

And if you’re interested in maths communication in any form, registration for the 2023 Talking Maths in Public conference, which is taking place in Newcastle upon Tyne and fully hybrid online, is now open. Tickets cost just £125 (£30 online) for three days of workshops, networking and discussions on all kinds of topics around maths communication, and a chance to meet others who work or participate in sharing maths.

Maths Education News

The UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced he’s setting up a review to tackle the UK’s ‘anti-maths mindset’. This follows his comments in January about making maths compulsory to 18, which were met with mixed reviews.

The Oak National Academy, which was set up in the pandemic and provides teaching resources for schools, is developing a new maths curriculum and teaching resources for secondary and primary maths in partnership with MEI.

Five UK maths education organisations (ATM, AMET, The MA, NAMA, and NANAMIC) have voted to create a new charitable organisation AMiE (Association for Mathematics in Education) and to explore merging into it.

Sad news

There have been several mathematical death announcements recently, including:

Photo of Vicky Neale, a blonde white woman with glasses who is smiling

And with great sadness we share the death of friend-of-the-site Vicky Neale, who was a pillar of the mathematical outreach community and an inspiration to many. She died earlier this month after a long illness, which she spoke about on her podcast Maths + Cancer. The University of Oxford has set up a tribute page which is full of stories, memories and messages thanking her for her great work and influence.

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