Here’s a roundup of some things that happened in September 2023 that you may have missed.

## You're reading: News Roundup

### Aperiodical News Roundup – August 2023

Here’s a selection of mathematical stories that crossed our desk in August.

## Maths Research News

Researchers have discovered that a shape can be designed to trace almost any infinite periodic trajectory when rolling down a slope, as seen in this Nature.com video (via Jeroen van Dorp)

A new diamond open access journal, Innovations in Graph Theory, has been founded. The first issue of the journal is expected to appear in 2024. *(via Peter Cameron)*

And in important publication news for silly season: Erik Demaine and Martin Demaine have achieved “the true ideal of an unordered set of equal authors, where every author comes first”. Their paper *Every Author as First Author* proposes a new standard for writing author names on papers and in bibliographies, which places every author as a first author, with the names all superimposed on top of each other, including details of the \namestack LaTeX command for this purpose. The results are predictably hilarious (see below). *(via Nalini Joshi)*

## Other News

Alison Kiddle has been posting daily conversation prompts involving LEGO to stimulate mathematical thinking on their blog every day in August, and people have been responding on Twitter and Mastodon.

Mathematician and logician Peter Aczel has died, as has Ian G. Macdonald (who introduced Macdonald polynomials).

### Aperiodical News Roundup – July 2023

Here’s some mathematical news that didn’t make it on to the site otherwise this month.

## Maths News

There’s been more **abc conjecture** drama: Peter Scholze and Jakob Stix are in line for a ¥140m (around £766k) prize for their paper pointing out the flaw in Mochizuki’s claimed abc proof – if they publish it in a journal.

A period 19 oscillator has been found in **Conway’s game of life** – the discussion thread on ConwayLife just gives it as a series of coordinates, but it already has an entry on LifeWiki, where it’s called ‘Cribbage’. *(via Isaac Grosof)*

Then, a week later, the first ever period 41 oscillator was also found! Excitingly named 204P41 (consisting of 204 cells) it’s led to another discovery – it looks like we now know how to make oscillators with any period, meaning Game of Life is omniperiodic. Since 2013 we’ve known all periods above 43 were possible, and this fills a gap in this excellent table.

**Lean’s mathlib **has been completely ported to Lean4 – if you’re familiar with proof assistants, you may find this news exciting or significant. Here’s a video showing off what that looks like. Meanwhile, the Lean Focused Research Organization has been set up to “advance the formal mathematics revolution”. *(via @leanprover@functional.cafe)*

## Events and Organisations

**Inclusion/Exclusion**, a justice and maths blog, has posted an open letter to the MAA about holding MathFest in Florida, requesting an option for online participation due to the state’s recent draconian law changes. It pulls ε punches:

Regardless of any in-person safeguards that MAA may put in place, this year’s MathFest will

Excerpt from the open letternotbe a safe event for trans people, for undocumented immigrants, or for many other members of our community, including disabled people. Therefore, our most urgent request is that you provide an online participation option.

If π approximation day on 22/7 got you thinking about your plans for the next actual π day, you might find it useful to know that the International Day of Mathematics 2024 theme is **Playing With Math**. From their website, “In 2024 we want to celebrate mathematical games, puzzles and other entertaining activities, but also “playing” with mathematics itself, exploring, experimenting, and discovering.”

Speaking of mathematical games, Ben Orlin has released a book of solitaire games as a follow-up to his “Math Games with Bad Drawings”. It’s available for free on his website as a PDF, and therefore weighs infinity less than the actual book it’s a follow-up to, which is so huge it’s collapsed into a black hole under its own mass. *(via Patrick Honner)*

And finally: Tim Wall, the Australian group theorist, has died. According to his profile on the Australian Academy of Science website, Wall “has made highly significant and original contributions to the development of Algebra, in particular to the Theory of Groups. […] He has always instinctingly given of his ideas to his collaborators and younger colleagues.” Thanks Tim!

### Aperiodical News Roundup – May & June 2023

Maths news didn’t stop coming this month, and if you missed it, here was our coverage of the new Spectre aperiodic monotile, an improvement on the previous monotile discovery. Here’s some other news that happened in May and June which we didn’t otherwise cover here.

Vladimir Drinfeld and Shing-Tung Yau have been awarded the 2023 Shaw Prize for their contributions related to mathematical physics, to arithmetic geometry, differential geometry and Kähler geometry. *(via the European Mathematical Society)*

According to provisional 2023 entry data, mathematics remains the most popular choice at A level in England and Wales this year.

Ticket sales continue apace for this year’s TMiP maths communication conference, and in the meantime it’s inspired a nascent equivalent network for math communicators in the US – sign up if you’re an American math communicator who WLTM others.

There’s been a moderation strike at Stack Overflow, which includes Math Overflow, in response to AI-generated content policy changes. “Striking community members will refrain from moderating and curating content, including casting flags, and critical community-driven anti-spam and quality control infrastructure will be shut down.” *(via theHigherGeometer)*

There’s a free online IMA event, including a talk called ‘How Maths Helped Me to Annoy My Insurance Company’ by Victoria Sánchez Muñoz taking place at 5pm on Thursday 13 July.

Obviously the most important news this month is the new Rubik’s cube world record – it’s now possible for a human to solve the cube in as little as 3.13 seconds (furious they’ve skipped π seconds) and the GIF included in the article shows just how impressive the feat was.

And finally, this Nature article outlines how deep reinforcement learning has discovered faster sorting algorithms. Algorithms such as sorting or hashing are everywhere – used trillions of times a day, according to the article. This means even small efficiency improvements can be huge because of the scale, but these algorithms are so well-studied that further efficiency was difficult to imagine. DeepMind trained a deep reinforcement agent, AlphaDev, to work from scratch using assembly code to attempt to find a better sorting routine. The researchers reverse engineered the algorithms found by AlphaDev to C++ and found these led to performance improvements of “up to 70% for sequences of a length of five and roughly 1.7% for sequences exceeding 250,000 elements”. The Nature paper has details of the algorithmic improvements. The improved algorithms have already been implemented into the LLVM libc++ standard sorting library.

### Aperiodical News Roundup – March, April & some of May 2023

It’s been a busy few months! As per our name, here’s an aperiodically-timed round up of things that have happened in the world of maths in the last few months.

### Aperiodical News Roundup – February 2023

Here’s a round-up of the news stories not covered on the site over the past month.

## Prizes and Appointments

Baroness Ingrid Daubechies is the first woman to be awarded the Wolf Prize in Mathematics. Awarded annually to outstanding scientists and artists from around the world since 1978, the award consists of a certificate and a monetary award of $100,000. *(via Nalini Joshi)*

Maths communicator and TikToker Ayliean MacDonald has been appointed the first Community Mathematician at MathsCity Leeds. Ayliean will run a series of workshops and events at MathsCity, and wants to make maths a multi-sensory experience – sessions will include maths art activities, craft workshops, and maths-inspired food tasting!

The New Government chief scientific adviser Professor Dame Angela McLean is a mathematical biologist. Her PhD thesis was on ‘Mathematical models of the epidemiology of measles in developing countries’ and she has been active in creating models of COVID as a high-profile member of SAGE and SPI-M-O.

## Other News

The OEIS foundation is looking to raise $3m to fund a full-time managing editor. Founded by Neil Sloane in 1964, the site has so far been run by volunteers, but now a committee of board members has been set up to help raise the necessary funds for an endowment. They have also released the entire source data of the encyclopedia on GitHub, under a Creative Commons Attribute Share-Alike licence. Previously, the data was available in a less-convenient form and only under a licence forbidding commercial use.

Humans can beat AI at Go again! As this article in the FT reports, Amateur Kellin Pelrine has found and exploited weakness in strategy systems that have otherwise dominated strategies used by the game’s grandmasters. *(via @moreisdifferent)*

The Office for Statistics Regulation has written to HM Treasury to tell it off for tweeting a graph with a non-zero vertical axis. The graph, which showed inflation statistics for January, started from 8% and “gives a misleading impression of the scale of the deceleration in inflation”.

And finally: well-loved mathematician and metagrobologist David Singmaster has died. He passed away earlier this month, and Lucas Garron has been collecting people’s memories of David Singmaster.

### Aperiodical News Roundup – January 2023

Here’s a round-up of news stories from January 2023.

## Maths forever news

The British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced that all students will study maths to age 18. The response has been varied, with commentators from both within mathematics and from non-mathematical backgrounds weighing in (with varying degrees of nuance).

However, this isn’t planned to happen soon – only to start the work to introduce this during this Parliament, with actual implementation to happen at an unspecified point in the future.

It’s worth noting that there is a shortage of maths teachers, with nearly half of schools currently using non-specialist maths teachers, according to the *TES*.

The fact this might make maths a political football is a bit of a problem – the opposition Labour party say “they’ve nothing to offer the country except double maths”. (As much as we love maths, we’ll agree there are more important things to worry about at the moment).

## Tech news

The Chrome browser, and eventually other browsers built on it such as Edge and Opera, can now render MathML without any additional libraries as of version 109. Chrome briefly had some support for MathML, which was removed in 2013 due to lack of interest from Google. The developers who were working on it have kept plugging away, funded by the open source software consultancy Igalia.

Until now, the only reliable way to display mathematical notation on the web has been to use a JavaScript library such as MathJax or KaTeX, which do all the work of laying out symbols using generic HTML elements.

Now, you can just put MathML code in a page and expect most browsers to display it, like this:

$$\int \frac{1}{{x}^{2}+1}$$

There’s still a need for MathJax and the like: writing MathML code is no fun, so they’re still useful for translating LaTeX code, and MathJax adds a range of annotations that help with accessibility. But this is a step towards mathematical notation being much easier to work with on the web!

## Other news

The US National Academies have released a series of posters “Illustrating the impact of the mathematical sciences”.

CLP’s place of work still has some Millennium Maths Project posters clinging on to the walls, older than almost all of the students, so maybe it’s time for a refresh! *(via Terence Tao)*

Tim Austin is the new Regius professor mathematics at Warwick. *(via Warwick Mathematics Institute)*

A bit of bureaucracy news: the Council for the Mathematical Sciences, comprising the five learned societies for maths and stats in the UK, is creating a new Academy for the Mathematical Sciences. It looks like the societies for the different sub-disciplines have acknowledged they need to work together, though this gives off a “now you have n+1 standards” smell. They’ve got a nice logo, though.

The Financial Times style guide changed so that ‘data’ is always singular, pragmatically following common usage. FT writer Alan Beattie said it best: “For anyone opposed, I’d like to know what your agendum is.“

## Events

The London Mathematical Society will hold a ceremony in London on 22nd March to officially award the Christopher Zeeman medal to the 2020 and 2022 medallists, Matt Parker and Simon Singh.

The ICMS in Edinburhgh has launched a “Maths for Humanity” initiative, which will be “devoted to education, research, and scholarly exchange having direct relevance to the ways in which mathematics, broadly construed, can contribute to the betterment of humanity.” *(via Terence Tao)*

## And finally

Yuri Marin has died. The Max Planck Institute has posted an obituary describing his life’s work. One of his PhD students, Arend Bayer, collected some memories in a Mastodon thread.

William ‘Bill’ Lawvere has died. There is a page on the nLab describing his life’s work.