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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 (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.


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.

Aperiodical News Roundup – March 2022

Here’s a roundup of mathematical things that have happened in March 2022.

Aperiodical News Roundup – February 2022

Here’s a roundup of mathematical things that have happened in February 2022.


The deeply troubling and developing situation in Ukraine has implications for the 2022 International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) due to take place in St. Petersburg, Russia in July. A group of Ukrainian mathematicians has issued a call for mathematicians to boycott the event. National organisations around the world have been issuing statements setting out their positions, standing down their participation and calling on the International Mathematical Union to not hold the event as planned. Here are some we spotted:

The International Mathematical Union (IMU) itself wrote to its member organisations expressing its deep concern, acknowledging the calls and saying it is assessing the situation.

Other news

The organisers of the Gathering 4 Gardner recreational maths conference have announced that this year’s event, taking place in April, will be a hybrid event with 50% discount for online-only places, making them a snip at $200. Registration is restricted to previous attendees and invitees, but it is possible to nominate yourself or someone else for an invitation.

Casualties of the recent storms in the UK apparently also include Newton’s apple tree – not the actual tree an apple fell on his head from, but scions of the original are planted all over the UK and one of the ones at Cambridge, which was planted in 1954, hasn’t survived the combined effects of Storm Eunice and gravity. More info in this excellent Twitter thread.

The Royal Statistical Society has released a report entitled Behind the numbers: The RSS puts the statistical skills of MPs to the test, in which they report the results of asking an anonymous unspecified group of Labour and Conservative MPs a series of simple stats and probability questions. The survey concluded that while MPs performed better than they did in a similar test ten years ago, their stats skills were still sub-par. It may not be as unambiguous as the research seems to claim though – Rob Eastaway has thoughts about the questions used.


Dr. Matilde Lalín (photo: CMS)

Canadian number theorist Dr. Matilde Lalín is to receive the Krieger-Nelson prize, awarded since 1995 by the Canadian Mathematical Society to recognise outstanding contributions in the area of mathematical research by a female mathematician. (via Jordan Ellenberg)

Maryam's Magic

The winners of the 2022 Mathical book prize, an annual award for fiction and nonfiction books that inspire children of all ages to see maths in the world around them, have been announced. The winners look to include some lovely titles, including Maryam’s Magic – the story of mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani – and the fantastic-sounding Uma Wimple Charts Her House. (via Jordan Ellenberg)

And finally

If you like that kind of thing, you can buy a bunch of cheap maths puzzle book PDFs in a Humble Bundle (via Adam Atkinson). And if you like proof assistants, there’s now a Proof Assistants Stack Exchange.

Aperiodical News Roundup – January 2022

Here’s a roundup of some of the mathematical things that happened in the first month of the year.

Aperiodical News Roundup – December 2021

Here’s a roundup of news stories from December 2021 that we didn’t cover at the time.

Maths results

Firstly, some nice news of a proof of a result on the density of unit fractions – a set of integers of positive density must contain distinct $n_1,\dots,n_k$ such that $\frac{1}{n_1}+\ldots+\frac{1}{n_k}=1$. (via Thomas Bloom)

According to this post on Gil Kalai’s blog, Ringel’s circle problem has been solved. The problem states:

Consider a finite family of circles such that every point in the plane is included in at most two circles. What is the minimum number of colors needed to color the circles so that tangent circles are colored with different colors?

Turns out, you might need all the colours – the authors of a new ArXiV paper have found ways to construct families of circles in the plane such that their tangency graphs have arbitrarily large girth and chromatic number.

A portion of the analytical engine built by Charles Babbage, at the Science Museum
Photo: CC BY-SA Mrjohncummings

Plan 28, a project aiming to collect and understand Babbage’s notes about the analytical engine (and possibly finish building it) has issued a statement to the effect that they now think they understand all of the designs – an exciting step forward.

We have for the first time both an aerial view that integrates partial and seemingly unrelated developments, as well as the most detailed analysis yet of the specifics of implementation.

The group are hoping to be able to rewrite these notes into a format that can be used to build a physical implementation of the machine, as Babbage’s original notes didn’t include a design for a complete engine, and the work so far has taken five years. This is exactly the kind of unnecessary nerdery I love to see.


Per Nalini Joshi on Twitter, Serena Dipierro has been awarded the Australian Mathematics Society medal for 2021, which is given within 15 years of the award of someone’s PhD for distinguished research in the mathematical sciences. According to the AustMS citation,

Professor Serena Dipierro (University of Western Australia) has made outstanding contributions to the area of analysis and PDEs, with a special focus on the theory of nonlocal operators and free boundary problems. She is a prolific researcher with a large international network of collaborators and has become one of the leaders of her field. In the nine years since the award of her PhD, her publications have amassed over 1100 citations in the MathSciNet database; since moving to Australia in 2016 she has averaged one publication per month, including many in journals of the highest quality.


According to a blog post by Gil Kalai, Richard Stanley has won the Leroy P. Steele prize, awarded annually by the AMS for distinguished research work and writing in mathematics. According to the announcement,

Stanley has revolutionized enumerative combinatorics, revealing deep connections with other branches of mathematics, such as commutative algebra, topology, algebraic geometry, probability, convex geometry, and representation theory. In doing so, he solved important longstanding combinatorial problems, often reinvigorating these other fields with new combinatorial methods. Through his outstanding research; excellent expository works; and many PhD students, collaborators and colleagues, he continues to influence the field of combinatorics worldwide.

Bad news

Photograph of Jacques Tits, an old white bald French man

In early December, the European Mathematical Society announced that Jacques Tits (pictured left) has died.

Jacques Tits was a highly influential group-theorist, proving the celebrated “Tits Alternative” (that every finitely generated linear group either has a solvable subgroup of finite index or contains a free subgroup of rank 2). Probably his most important contribution was the development of group-theoretic “Buildings”, a profound unifying idea which has subsequently had deep applications in diverse mathematical fields.

Following the publication of a fairly painful article in The Times just before Christmas entitled ‘Phwoar! Look at the vital statistics on these lads’ and listing the apparently increasingly attractive, and exclusively male, mathematicians and statisticians responsible for ‘crunching the data’ on the pandemic, the i newspaper published this excellent response pointing out the shocking news that some mathematicians who aren’t men have also been involved, and highlighting some of the top data experts who’ve been looking after us all with maths. The Times article includes a quote from “maths professor and author Hannah Fry — a woman” (that is literally actually what it says) who had correctly expressed on Twitter that mathematicians are hot – but I’m pretty sure she meant all of us and not just men.

Speaking of bad opinion pieces, what better way to sum up the year than this collection of terrible maths takes? Highlights include ‘How does misogyny impede a mathematician of doing a good job?’ [sic] and the wonderful ‘Physics is not math.’

The American Mathematical Society has cancelled this year’s Joint Mathematics Meetings, scheduled to take place in Seattle on 5-8 Jan, and will be refunding tickets and organising an online event instead. Unfortunately, they initially failed to notify attendees of this by email, and many found out via Twitter.

The AMS also announced in mid-December that they were shutting down all their blogs with two weeks’ notice. The AMS Blogs site has been replaced with an archive collecting all the past posts, but those who used it as a regular blogging outlet will have to find somewhere else to do that. (Hi!)

And finally

Dynamic geometry powerhouse Geogebra has been bought by an online tutoring company called BYJU’S, run by a group of former maths teachers from India. They’ve stated that all current employees, contracts, agreements and software licenses will remain in place, and the software and online resources will continue to be free to use. (via Geogebra on twitter)

PROMYS Europe is a programme designed to encourage mathematically ambitious secondary school students to explore the creative world of mathematics. Competitively selected pre-university students from around Europe gather at Wadham College, Oxford for six weeks of rigorous mathematical activity. This summer it will run from 10th July – 20th August, and applications open on 11th January.

Gathering 4 Gardner’s 2022 Wall Calendar is now available to download and print, and some print copies are also available. Including important dates of huge mathematical significance (my birthday, among others) and a selection of bios, sketches, photos and puzzles any maths fan would enjoy, it’s the perfect solution if you forgot to get a calendar and like maths.

The Geometry Center videos, which brought brought concepts from geometric topology to general audiences through computer-generated visualisation in the early 1990s, have been remastered and are available for free. (via Robin Houston)

If you spot something you think should be in a future Aperiodical News Roundup, send it our way!