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Mathematical Objects: Fingers with Ben Orlin

Mathematical Objects

A conversation about mathematics inspired by some fingers. Presented by Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett, with special guest Ben Orlin. Ben’s new book is Math Games with Bad Drawings.

fingers
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Mathematical Objects: Quarto

Mathematical Objects

A conversation about mathematics inspired by the game Quarto. Presented by Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett.

Quarto board and pieces
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What does craiyon/DALL·E mini ‘think’ mathematics and mathematicians look like?

You may have seen DALL·E mini posts appearing on social media for a little while now – it’s been viral for a couple of weeks, according to Know Your Meme. It’s an artificial intelligence model for producing images, operating as an open-source project mimicking the DALL·E system from company OpenAI but trained on a smaller dataset. Actually, since I had a play with this yesterday it’s renamed itself at the request of OpenAI and is now called craiyon. Since the requests all take between 1-3 mins to generate, I’m not going to re-generate all the images in this post using craiyon so that’s why they have the old ‘DALL·E mini’ branding.

AI image generation is a massively impressive technical achievement, of course. craiyon doesn’t create as stunning images as DALL·E 2, but still it can create some ‘wow’s.

What’s interesting, sometimes, is how it interprets a prompt. The data craiyon is trained on is “unfiltered data from the Internet, limited to pictures with English descriptions” according to the project’s statement on bias, and this can lead to problems including that the images may “reinforce or exacerbate societal biases”.

To see that in action, we can take a look at how the model manifests cultural expression around mathematics. When I gave it the simple prompt ‘mathematics’, it produced this.

Mathematical Objects: Slinky

Mathematical Objects

A conversation about mathematics inspired by a slinky. Presented by Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett.

slinky
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Particularly mathematical Birthday Honours 2022

In all the Jubilee fun, you may have missed the announcement of the UK Government’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list. Here’s our selection of particularly mathematical entries for this year – any more, let us know in the comments and we’ll add to the list.

  • Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation, UK Statistics Authority. Made Companion of the Order of the Bath for public service.
  • Fiona Steele, Professor of Statistics, London School of Economics. Appointed CBE for services to Statistics in the Social Sciences.
  • Nicholas Davies, Assistant Professor of Mathematical Modelling, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Appointed MBE for services to the Covid-19 Response.
  • Isobel Jessie Falconer, Reader of Mathematics, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews. Appointed MBE for services to the History of Mathematics and Science.
  • Charlotte Deane, Professor of Structural Bioinformatics, University of Oxford. Appointed MBE for services to Covid-19 Research. (Thanks to Vicky Neale for the tip!)

Get the full list of honours on gov.uk.

Mathematical Objects: Nodal cubic with Angela Tabiri

Mathematical Objects

A conversation about mathematics inspired by the nodal cubic. Presented by Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett. We go closer to the cutting edge of research than usual in this chat with Angela Tabiri about her PhD research.

Nodal cubic
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