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Aperiodical News Roundup – March/April 2024

Here’s a round-up of mathematical news from the last couple of months.


The 2024 Abel Prize has been awarded to Michel Talagrand, “for his groundbreaking contributions to probability theory and functional analysis, with outstanding applications in mathematical physics and statistics.”

This year’s Turing Award has been given to Avi Wigderson, “for foundational contributions to the theory of computation, including reshaping our understanding of the role of randomness in computation, and for his decades of intellectual leadership in theoretical computer science.” Widgerson is a previous recipient of the Abel Prize.

Mathematical Discoveries

Nature magazine reports the discovery of a natural metabolic enzyme capable of forming Sierpiński triangles. Fractals are everywhere!

Various diagrams, including showing microscopic images which appear to be nanometre scale approximations to the Sierpiński triangle.

Quine’s New Foundations for set theory, in which the axiom of choice is false, has been formally proved in Lean to be consistent (PDF).

Another unreasonably effective application of maths: knot theory can be used to reveal points where spacecraft can switch between intersecting orbits using minimal fuel.

Figures showing complicated orbits from Applications of Knot Theory to the Detection of Heteroclinic Connections between Quasi-periodic Oribts by Danny Owen and Nicola Baresi

Other news

And finally, there have unfortunately been two deaths in maths education. First, maths education stalwart and generally lovely person Sue de Pomerai has died. Sue worked at MEI, FMSP and AMSP, and made a huge contribution to maths promotion in the UK. Also Hugh Burkhardt, pioneering mathematics education researcher and former Director of the Shell Centre for Mathematical Education.

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