The dust is settling on the ninth Big MathsJam, and before I get too sad that it’s nearly a year until the next one, I put down some thoughts about what was so good about this one.

# You're reading: Posts By Colin Beveridge

### Wikiquote edit-a-thon – Saturday, May 12th, 2018

**TL;DR:** We’re holding a distributed Wikipedia edit-a-thon on Saturday, May 12th, 2018 from 10am to improve the visibility of women mathematicians on the Wikiquotes Mathematics page. Join in from wherever you are! Details below, and in this Google Doc.

Extension and abstraction without apparent direction or purpose is fundamental to the discipline. Applicability is not the reason we work, and plenty that is not applicable contributes to the beauty and magnificence of our subject.

– Peter Rowlett, “The unplanned impact of mathematics”, Nature 475, 2011, pp. 166-169.Trying to solve real-world problems, researchers often discover that the tools they need were developed years, decades or even centuries earlier by mathematicians with no prospect of, or care for, applicability.

– Peter Rowlett, “The unplanned impact of mathematics”, Nature 475, 2011, pp. 166-169.There is no way to guarantee in advance what pure mathematics will later find application. We can only let the process of curiosity and abstraction take place, let mathematicians obsessively take results to their logical extremes, leaving relevance far behind, and wait to see which topics turn out to be extremely useful. If not, when the challenges of the future arrive, we won’t have the right piece of seemingly pointless mathematics to hand.

Peter Rowlett, “The unplanned impact of mathematics”, Nature 475, 2011, pp. 166-169.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have every admiration for Peter and his work; his is a thoughtful voice of reason, and it’s not at all unreasonable for the Wikiquote page on mathematics to cite his writing.

### Review: Closing the Gap, by Vicky Neale

Did you read Cédric Villani’s *Birth of a Theorem*? Did you have the same reaction as me, that all of the mentions of the technical details were incredibly impressive, doubtless meaningful to those in the know, but ultimately unenlightening?

Writing about maths, especially deep technical maths, so that a reader can follow along with it is *hard* – the Venn diagram of the set of people who can write clearly and the set of people who understand the maths, two relatively small sets, has a yet smaller intersection.

### Review: Geometry Snacks, by Ed Southall and Vincent Pantaloni

Exams have a nasty habit of sucking the joy out of a subject. My interest in proper literature was dulled by A-Level English, and I celebrated my way out of several GCSE papers – in subjects I’d picked because I enjoyed them – saying “I’ll never have to do that again.”

Geometry is a topic that generally suffers badly from this – but fortunately, Ed Southall and Vincent Pantaloni’s *Geometry Snacks* is here to set that right.

### Footballs on road signs: an international overview

I’m an old fashioned manager, I write the team down on the back of a fag packet and I play a simple 4-4-2.

- Mike Bassett, England Manager

I’m very much like Mike Bassett: I like standing on the terraces, I like full-backs whose main skill is kicking wingers into the ad hoardings, and – most of all – I like geometrically correct footballs.

### Review: Factris

Removing four lines at once with an I-piece in Tetris is the most efficient way to score, which creates a tension: on one hand, you want to build high enough to score quickly, but on the other, building too high puts you at risk of ending the game. The balance between the two is *exquisite*.

I mention that, because I was about to grumble that the corresponding balance in MEI Maths’s new game app thingummy **Factris** isn’t quite as good – of course it isn’t. Nothing ever will be.

### Relatively Prime Recap: Season 2, Episode 8: Diegetic Plots, Chapter 2

There really isn’t enough silliness in maths. Samuel has tried to inject some throughout the series, sometimes more successfully than others. This is the episode where he finally nails the silliness.

Diegetic Plots, Chapter 2 is a nice finale to a generally good season of Relatively Prime. Dealing with sketches and haiku from the mathematical domain, we get a glimpse of the daft side of maths.