You're reading: News

Cheltenham Science Festival 2021 preview

Cheltenham Science Festival logo

Cheltenham Science Festival starts this week, running from 10 – 13 June.  This year, the event has a hybrid format, with a combination of socially-distanced talks, live and online workshops, and free live streaming of many of the events.  Tickets remain available for many of the events and workshops.  Check the website or download the brand new Cheltenham Festivals app for details.

Aperiodical News Roundup – May 2021

Here’s a round-up of mathematical news from the month of May.

The film Words of Women in Mathematics in the Time of Corona showcases the words of 86 women of mathematics from 37 countries, speaking in 25 languages, on their experience during the pandemic. The project website says:

This pandemic has indeed made women, and in particular women in mathematics, more invisible than ever and we hope that this project will contribute to letting them be heard and seen.

(via Tony Mann)

Mathematician, IMA president and one-time World’s Most Interesting Mathematician Nira Chamberlain appeared on Jim Al-Khalili’s excellent radio show The Life Scientific, and talked about how mathematics can solve real-world problems.

The adventures of Mathina. An illustration showing two children in a rural landscape, with a castle in the distance. Two buttons, labelled "Start Exploring!" and "Introduction"

Mathina is an interactive story book, “based on story-driven experiences, in which children and young learners encounter fictional characters that find themselves in mathematical adventures”. It looks cool! (via Martin Skrodzki)

I is a Strange Loop is a theatrical play, written and performed by mathematician Marcus du Sautoy and mathematician/actor Victoria Gould (formerly Polly off Eastenders). A performance was streamed live on 25th May, and available to watch back on the Oxford Uni maths YouTube channel. The script of the play is also available to buy in book form.

Jean-Michel Bismut and Jeff Cheeger

The winners of the Shaw Prize, “an international award to honour individuals who have recently achieved distinguished and significant advances in their respective fields”, have been announced for 2021, including the Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences. This is awarded in equal shares to Prof Jean-Michel Bismut and Prof Jeff Cheeger (pictured right, floating in an abstract mathematical universe), “for their remarkable insights that have transformed, and continue to transform, modern geometry”.

And finally, Turkish mathematician Tuna Altinel has his passport back after two years of fighting the Turkish courts. Altinel was detained by Turkish authorities and his passport confiscated on the grounds of “membership in a terrorist organisation”, due to his attempts to promote peace and support human rights as part of the group Academics for Peace.

More information in this piece from Inside Higher Ed

See also: The case of Azat Miftakhov.

(via Jordan Ellenberg on Twitter)

Aperiodical News Roundup – April 2021

Top news this month: Pure mathematicians at Leicester have opened a GoFundMe to pay for legal support in their fight to keep their jobs. The London Mathematical society has published a letter making the case for pure maths at Leicester, and there’s a petition you can sign.


Hannah Fry has a new TV show about maths and sport, on BT Sport and YouTube, called It’s A Numbers Game (or IT’S A NUMB3R5 GAME, if you believe the logo). She’s joined by Pippa Monique, Ugo Monye, Andrew Mensah and Dr Nick Owen. It’s on each Saturday on both BT Sport and YouTube. There are some resources for kids aged 5 to 14 on Twinkl, to go with the show.

Erasmus EUR2 coin


Dr. Marie Davidian is the recipient of the 2021 Marvin Zelen Leadership Award in Statistical Science. (via Harvard Biostatistics)

UK mathematicians Yuhka Machino and Jenni Voon earned gold medals at the 2021 European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad, and the UK team as a whole finished third. (via the UK Mathematics Trust)


The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications is again running a series of online talks.

The first talk at the 6th May event will be from Nick Higham who has been awarded the Gold Medal award in recognition of outstanding contributions to mathematics and its applications. This will be followed by Jane Leeks and David Abrahams discussing future developments in mathematical sciences knowledge exchange.

There will be a couple more talks on the 25th of May to do with modelling and Covid-19.

More information: IMA Mathematics Online series

The London Mathematical Society is offering two summer placements – a Library and Special Collections Summer Placement (working with the LMS’s special collections) and an Equality and Diversity – Success Stories Placement (putting together profiles of successful mathematicians), both of which are paid hourly at three days a week for 8 weeks over the summer, and would suit prospective postgraduates with an undergraduate degree.

More information: Jobs at the LMS

The International Congress of Mathematicians is running a surprising maths videos contest. Prizes include a grant to attend ICM 2022 in St Petersburg, which won’t be much use to LGBT+ mathematicians, whose existence in Russia is illegal, or Azat Miftakhov, a student at Moscow State University who has been detained by Russian authorities for two years. If that doesn’t faze you, the ICM has produced an example of a surprising maths video:

Proof news

Kelsey Houston-Edwards writes in Quanta magazine about a proof of the Erdős-Faber-Lovász conjecture on colouring hypergraphs. The preprint by Dong Yeap Kang, Tom Kelly, Daniela Kühn, Abhishek Methuku and Deryk Osthus is available on the arXiv.

Also in Quanta magazine (if you can pay people to write maths news, they write maths news! Who knew?), Erica Klarreich writes about a counterexample to the unit conjecture on group algebras, presented at the end of a talk by Giles Gardam, and Steve Nadis writes about a recent proof of a special case of the Erdős-Hajnal conjecture in graph theory. That guy Erdős sure made a lot of conjectures.

Over on the, where seekers of new and exciting prime numbers hang out, it’s been reported that a new probable prime repunit has been found – it’s got a record 5794777 decimal digits, all of which are the digit 1. (via Ed Pegg)

Other news

Version 3.0 of SnapPy, program for studying the topology and geometry of 3-manifolds, has been released. (via Jordan Ellenberg)

Early Family Math is a new free maths resource website for children from 6 months to 6 years old. At the moment it has a lot of resources for activities, and some maths story books. They say that videos are forthcoming.

And finally, there’s a fundraiser for Mathematicians of the African Diaspora, which hosts the largest searchable database of mathematical scientists of the African Diaspora in the world, and is looking for funding to expand its database and reach a wider audience so it can continue to inspire the next generation of Black mathematicians. (via Edray Goins)

Aperiodical News Roundup – March 2021

Here’s a round-up of some maths news we didn’t yet write about this month.


László Lovász and Avi Wigderson

This month the Abel Prize committee announced this year’s award will go to László Lovász and Avi Wigderson “for their foundational contributions to theoretical computer science and discrete mathematics, and their leading role in shaping them into central fields of modern mathematics.” The prize will be handed over at a ceremony in May. You can read more about this year’s prize on the Abel Prize website.

Cheryl Praeger has been awarded the inaugural Ruby Payne-Scott Medal for her mathematical work on symmetry and developing algorithms that help power technology around the world. Named after pioneering Australian radio astronomer Ruby Payne-Scott, the medal recognises exceptional researchers in physical and biological sciences and is awarded by the Australian Academy of Science.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh has announced its list of 2021 Fellows, which includes mathematicians Paul Glendinning, Tara Brendle and Bernd Schroers.

Turing banknote
Image: Bank of England

And since we haven’t reported enough Alan Turing news, the design for the new Alan Turing £50 note has been revealed. GCHQ have released a series of puzzles linked to the design (presumably looking to find the next Alan Turing, so they can put whoever it is on the £100 note a century from now).

Visit the Turing Challenge website to throw your hat in.

Events & Websites

The IMA are running a What it’s like to study Mathematics at University?’ Conference online on 14th April – with speakers including researchers, maths teachers and A-level students, the event will explore what being a student mathematician entails and how to take it further into a career. For ages 16+, it’s free to attend and you can register online.

From the people who brought you the WayBack Machine, the Internet Archive Scholar includes over 25 million research articles and other scholarly documents preserved in the Internet Archive. The collection includes everything from digitised copies of eighteenth century journals through to the latest Open Access conference proceedings and pre-prints crawled from the World Wide Web.

Screenshot of the Her Maths Story website

The newly launched Her Maths Story website collects stories of women mathematicians from all over the world, and includes photos and pithy quotes – it’ll be a useful resource if you want to showcase real mathematicians and their varied backgrounds and careers.

Other news

Rob Eastaway has written a lovely blog post about statistician John Haigh, who passed away on 9th March. Rob also recommends John’s book Taking Chances: Winning with Probability.

Aperiodical News Roundup – February 2021

Image by /

Here’s a round-up of the latest mathematical news from the (perfectly rectangular) month of February.

Aperiodical News Roundup – January 2021

Events, Competitions & Proposals

LMS Women in Maths Events

Registration is now open for the upcoming virtual Women and Non-Binary People in Mathematics conference funded by the LMS, taking place on 11th-12th February. The event is open to all mathematicians in all stages of their career and from any field, and is on MS Teams.

The LMS are also running their annual Women in Mathematics Day on 24th March, aiming to promote interest and careers in mathematics for women. Open to mathematicians of all genders, backgrounds and career stages, the event will include talks from academia and industry, a panel discussion and a poster competition with prizes.

International Day of Mathematics Website & Poster Challenge

International Day of Mathematics 2021: March 14

For 2021’s International Day of Mathematics on 14th March, the theme is Mathematics for a Better World. The organisers have now launched their 2021 website, Mathematics for a Better World, which shows some cool applications of maths.

IDM are also holding a poster challenge linked to the theme, Mathematics for a Better World. The challenge is to create a poster that shows one way to make the world a little bit better using mathematics. The competition runs until 1st March.

Back issues of Eureka Recreational maths journal now available online

Eureka, the recreational mathematics journal produced by the Cambridge University Mathematical Society The Archimedeans, has placed all of its old archive issues online so anyone can access them.

Other Good News

Preorders for printed copies of Chalkdust 11 & 12 now available

If you remember physical printed media from the Past Times and are a fan, you can order physical printed copies of Chalkdust Issues 11 & 12 through their website.

Medals of the Order of Australia awarded to maths people

Numberphile creator Brady Haran and maths pioneer Prof. Cheryl Praeger are among those awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia, as part of this year’s Australia Day celebrations on 25th Jan.

WA’s first female maths professor lands top award in Australia Day honours list, at ABC News
Brady’s writeup about the award on his blog

Communications of the AMS, a new diamond open access journal, is launched

Communications of the American Mathematical Society (CAMS) is a new, diamond open access journal designed to provide a home for the very best research and review articles across all areas of mathematics. CAMS will be a natural home for both pure and applied mathematics, presenting a window into a holistic view of mathematics and its applications to a wide range of disciplines. The AMS expects the journal to be a diverse and inclusive home for mathematicians around the world in support of emerging research. It is anticipated that the first published articles will appear in early 2021. For more information, visit the journal’s webpage​.

(via Ian Agol on Twitter)

Funding Boost for Mathematical Sciences Institutes

Three of the UK’s leading research institutes will be supported to widen access to mathematical sciences and support training through funding confirmed on 21st January. The Isaac Newton Institute (INI), the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (ICMS) and the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research (HIMR) will be able to support a wide range of education and training activities using the money.

The funding is part of the £300 million government investment in the Additional Funding Programme for Mathematical Sciences, announced in 2020.

Funding boost for mathematical sciences institutes, on the UKRI website
January 2021 funding increase: what does it mean for INI, ICMS and the mathematical community? on YouTube

(via EPSRC on Twitter)

‘This is What a Mathematician Looks Like’ badges raise money for charity

Aerospace engineer Krystina Pearson-Rampeearee has launched a new set of pin badges which proudly proclaim “This is what a mathematican looks like”. In the accompanying Twitter thread, she explains that £1.50 from the sale of each badge will go to maths positivity charity Maths on Toast.

The badges are available, along with a range of others, in Krystina’s Etsy shop for £6.99 + P&P.

(via @Obeverley on Twitter)

Remaining News

Increase in Scientific Publications not mirrored in maths

Some scientific publishers are reporting a surge in submissions this year as scholars find more time during the pandemic to write papers. Does mathematics fit this pattern? Err, no. This blog post by Edward Dunne for the AMS goes into it.

(via @AmerMathSoc on Twitter)

Graham Hoare has died

Graham Hoare has died aged 85. Among his many achievements he was a mathematician and teacher, one of the driving forces behind the Royal Institution’s mathematics masterclasses, letters editor for the Mathematics Today journal and an active member of the Mathematical Association.

Graham Hoare obituary, in the Guardian.

The University of Leicester is planning to sack all its pure maths staff

In a move which claims to ‘shape for excellence’, the University of Leicester plans to cease research in pure mathematics. All pure mathematicians will be made redundant (in the middle of a pandemic) and three teaching-focused lecturers will be hired to cover their undergraduate programmes.

The idea is that the university needs to focus more on its “future research identity in AI, computational modelling, digitalisation and data science”, and that resources will be reallocated there. Presumably they’ll have to also outsource any integers or algebraic structures they need in order to do those things as well.

Previous attempts to do a similar thing in 2016 were met with outcry, including from the late Sir Michael Atiyah, and dropped, but they’re trying again. There’s a petition protesting the decision which already has over 5,000 signatures.

Mathematics is not redundant, on iPetitions.
Redundancies comment #3 – Plan for Maths doesn’t add up, on the University of Leicester UCU website.

(via Tim Gowers on Twitter)