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Aperiodical News Roundup – October 2022

Research

AI research company DeepMind said that their AlphaTensor system has discovered a new way to multiply matrices, citing this as the first such advance since the Strassen algorithm was proposed in 1969. AlphaTensor found thousands of algorithms for multiplying matrices of different sizes, but most were not better than the state of the art. Specifically, it found an algorithm for multiplying \(5 \times 5\) matrices in \(\mathbb{Z}_2\) in just 96 operations. There’s a paper in Nature describing how the algorithm was found.

It’s not all over for us humans just yet, though: the DeepMind announcement prompted two algebraists at Linz University, Jakob Moosbauer and Manuel Kauers, to see if they could do even better. After a few days of thought, they published The FBHHRBNRSSSHK-Algorithm for Multiplication in $\mathbb{Z}_2^{5\times5}$ is still not the end of the story on the arXiv, giving an algorithm which does the multiplication in only 95 steps.

Meanwhile, in other computers-helping-humans news, the Lean 3 library mathlib has made it to 100,000 theorems, none of which have been left as an exercise for the reader.

Events

The IMA and LMS have joined forces to offer a new university access programme called Levelling Up: Maths, which aims to address the difficulties that young people of Black heritage face in STEM. A-level students can join the programme, and will be able to access teaching and mentoring in virtual tutorial groups with Black heritage undergraduates, as well as events with Black guest speakers. The programme is also supported by the RAEng, BCS, IOP RSC, MEI and STEM Learning, as well as the Association for Black & Minority Ethnic Engineers (AFBE-UK) and Black British Professionals in STEM (BBSTEM).

What Can Mathematicians Do? is a series of free online public maths presentations organised by Newcastle University’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics, covering a wide range of topics such as how colours mix, how to make a mint on the stock market, and how to pick your next Netflix binge. Aimed at students in school years 10 to 13, the talks are all given by disabled presenters: to show that anyone can be a mathematician, and mathematicians can do anything.

And finally: last weekend, a group of maths communicators (including several Aperiodical editors and regulars) put together a live online 24-hour Mathematical Game Show, featuring mathematical games, games with a mathematical twist, the maths of games and games about maths. The show has raised nearly £5000 for a collection of excellent charities, and the whole show is available to watch back in half-hour or 1-hour segments.

And finally

Nick Berry of the Data Genetics blog has died. The site ran for over a decade, and was described by Alex Bellos as ‘one of best examples of maths outreach on the web […] A brilliant cabinet of curiosities’. Nick passed away peacefully at home on Saturday October 8th after a long battle with cancer. (via Alex Bellos on Twitter)

Phil Goldstein, aka magician Max Maven, has died. Max Maven popularised the Gilbreath principle, which underlies a host of astonishing mathematical card tricks. (via Colm Mulcahy on Twitter)

Aperiodical News Roundup – September 2022

Here’s a roundup of mathematical news stories we didn’t get round to writing about yet this month.

Aperiodical News Roundup – August 2022

Not much going on in the world of maths this month (or, we’re on holiday so we haven’t been paying attention), but here’s a round-up of a few stories we saw this month.

The next Black Heroes of Mathematics Conference is scheduled for the 4th and 5th October, taking place online and featuring speakers including statistician Sophie Dabo-Niang (University of Lille), actuarial/finance lecturer Tolulope Fadina (University of Essex), Tosin Babasola (University of Bath), mathematician and former NFL player John Urschel (Harvard), Mathematically Uncensored podcast host Aris Winger (Georgia Gwinnett College), engineer Ejay Nsugbe (Nsugbe Research Labs), Nandi Leslie (Raytheon Technologies) and Franck Kalala Mutombo (University of Lubumbashi). The event is a joint initiative between The British Society for the History of Mathematicsthe International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, the Institute of Mathematics and its Applicationsthe Isaac Newton Institutethe London Mathematical Society, and the Mathematical Association.

Photo: HLFF

Later this month the 9th Heidelberg Laureate Forum will take place in Germany, bringing together laureates of the Abel Prize, Fields Medal and other prestigious maths and computer science awards. The event also invites hundreds of promising PhD students in maths and computer science to network and watch lectures by the laureates. Much of the conference will be livestreamed online, and there’ll be Twitter and blog coverage of the event (including some posts by me, and others by Chalkdust team member/friend of the site Sophie Maclean).

Aperiodic tilings exhibition

The Open University has put together a mathematical art exhibition and workshop inspired by aperiodic tilings, in honour of Uwe Grimm, and it’s now possible to view the Aperiodic tilings exhibition online, including stills of the pieces and a video walk around the exhibition.

And finally: our own Peter has noticed an interesting trend of positive coverage of maths in the media, and has collected some examples in this Twitter thread, including a Guardian piece about someone who discovered a love of maths later in life having struggled at school, a BBC Radio 4 episode of biography show ‘Great Lives’ on Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw. Add your own examples to the thread!

Aperiodical News Roundup – July 2022

Here’s a roundup of some mathematical news we didn’t yet report from the last month.

The makers of documentary film ‘Olga Ladyzhenskaya’, detailing the life of the Russian mathematician, have released a five-minute trailer giving a flavour of the film. (via ICM Intelligencer)

From the Olga Ladyzhenskaya trailer

Research

According to a new ArXiV paper, the triple bubble conjecture (a result about the shapes taken by surfaces that are attempting to enclose a volume, or in this case three volumes, with minimal surface area) has been solved. (via Ian Agol)

The Lean community, who use and blog about the Lean proof assistant, have announced completion of the liquid tensor experiment – proving the main theorem of liquid vector spaces (me neither) and thereby formalising a big serious proof using the system. (via David Eppstein)

In computer science, a new ArXiV paper takes us a step closer to automating quantitative reasoning – Minerva, a large language model pre-trained on general natural language data and technical content, has correctly solved some college-level questions that “require quantitative reasoning”.

Awards

Photograph of the four 2022 Fields Medalists sitting in a row at the award ceremony
2022 Fields Medalists (L-R: Maryna Viazovska, James Maynard, June Huh, and Hugo Duminil-Copin) Photo: HLFF

A big month for prizes, with the announcement of the 2022 Fields medals, awarded to Hugo Duminil-Copin, June Huh, James Maynard and Maryna Viazovska, as well as the 2022 Christopher Zeeman medal, which has been awarded to Simon Singh.

Aperiodical News Roundup – June 2022

Community News

The Spectra Math (@LGBTMath) account has announced that the AMS (American Mathematical Society) has instituted a new policy, based on consultations with Spectra, concerning author name changes. The policy is intended to make its journals more inclusive, especially of trans and non-binary researchers. The policy seeks to provide a simple and efficient way for authors to update their name on published articles in a minimally intrusive way that respects the author’s privacy.

‘Author Name Changes’, on the AMS website

The Eindhoven University of Technology has advertised a post for a Full Professor in Applied Algebra and Geometry, which for the first six months of being advertised will only be open to female candidates. The post is part of the Irène Curie Fellowship program, which is dedicated to reaching at least 30% female researchers on TU/e’s permanent academic staff by 2024.

Job advert: Full Professor in Applied Algebra and Geometry

Igalia, contributors to digital maths writing standard MathML, have announce their intent to ship MathML support in Chromium going forward. They claim this announcement is a big step towards having MathML support enabled in Chromium (and hence Chrome) by default. (via Deyan Ginev on Twitter).

Despite previous big promises, the UK government has failed to deliver a promised £300m in funding for pure maths research, as revealed in a recent meeting of the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee. It’s covered in this Times Higher Ed article (paywalled), or you can watch the proceedings on Parliamentlive.tv (via Protect Pure Maths on Twitter).

Maths Developments

Scientists in Japan have built a tiny Möbius strip from carbon nanotube building blocks (New Scientist article).

In a paper titled ‘The Next 350 Million Knots’, mathematician Benjamin A. Burton at The University of Queensland has enumerated all knots up to 19 crossings, meaning we now have a total of 352152252 known distinct non-trivial prime knots (only infinity to go!) (via Ian Agol).

Google’s Emma Haruka Iwao, architect of a previous large π digit calculation record announcement in 2019, is at it again: the 100 trillionth digit of π in base 10 has been revealed to be (spoiler alert) 0. According to a post on the Google Blog, the calculation took over 157 days and processed around 82,000 terabytes of data.

Events

The ICMS (International Centre for Mathematical Sciences) in Edinburgh has instituted a visiting fellow in music, with the inaugural recipient being Julien Lonchamp, an orchestral composer who has scored a number of short films.

He is interested in how sound and music work at the interface with other disciplines, including visual art and science. He aims to create novel immersive “sound-worlds” by combining a wide range of composition processes in order to communicate abstract or complex ideas.

ICMS press release

If you enjoyed this news item, check out his Soundcloud.

Since these news items are saved up for the end of the month, we can exclusively reveal that registration for the virtual ICM (International Congress of Mathematics) 2022 is both open, and already full. Luckily all lectures will be recorded and made available online afterwards.

And finally

Screenshot from the video, showing a person juggling three partly-solved cubes next to a timer
Photo: Guinness World Records

The most important news item of the month was that Guinness has announced the world record for solving three Rubik’s cubes while juggling them was recently smashed by Colombian 19-year-old Angel Alvarado. There’s a video of the new record solve, which took 4:31.01 (beating Angel’s own previous record of 4:52.43, set in May 2021).

Aperiodical News Roundup – April 2022

Here’s a round-up of the mathematical and maths-adjacent news stories we saw in the month of April.

Proof News

(Image: Quanta Magazine)
Jinyoung Park and Huy Tuan Pham

The Kahn-Kalai conjecture, a result from graph theory, has been proved in this ArXiV paper by Stanford mathematicians Jinyoung Park (a former postdoc of Abel prize winner Avi Widgerson) and Huy Tuan Pham. Here’s the writeup in Quanta magazine for those who want a good lay summary, a news piece about it on the Princeton IAS website, and a response from Gil Kalai about his conjecture being proved. (via Thomas Bloom)

Quanta have also covered the proof of the Van der Waerden conjecture, a result about polynomial roots, by Fields medalist Manjul Bhargava.

Big particle physics model news – a recent measurement of the mass of the W-boson doesn’t match the standard model, suggesting the theory may need some refinement.

Other maths news

Gömböc - Wikipedia
A Gömböc wobbles but can’t fall down

The supreme court of Hungary has ruled that the Gömböc can’t be trademarked – despite its mathematical interestingness, it’s considered a decorative object apparently. (via David Eppstein on mathstodon)

I, Mathematicians is a new Twitter account which will be run by a different mathematician each week. There’s a signup form on that initial post, and this week it’s Dr Kimberley Ayers.

The most appropriate news we could possibly cover: there’s an Aperiodic Tiling conference and exhibition taking place at the Open University in June this year, in honour of the late Professor Uwe Grimm.

According to this tweet by Sidney Padua, her excellent book The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage will now be available in opera form. Following a preview show this month, the opera will premiere in Boston in 2023.

And finally

Georgia Benkart
(photo: Wikipedia)

American mathematician Georgia Benkart has died (PDF), after a long career in research on representation theory and Lie algebras, publishing over 130 journal articles and making major contributions to the field.

British-Canadian mathematician and computer scientist John McKay, discoverer of monstrous moonshine and the McKay correspondence, also passed away this month.

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