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Abel Prize 2020

The Abel Prize for 2020 has been awarded to two mathematicians – Hillel Furstenberg and Gregory Margulis, for their work in “pioneering the use of methods from probability and dynamics in group theory, number theory and combinatorics”.

Richard K. Guy (1916-2020)

Richard K, Guy

We’re greatly saddened to hear of the death of Richard K. Guy yesterday morning. He was 103.

Richard K. Guy was a prolific collaborator. He co-authored four papers with Paul Erdős, worked frequently with John H. Conway and Elwyn Berlekamp, and was a frequent contributor to Martin Gardner’s Mathematical Games column.

The most well-known of Guy’s discoveries is the glider in Conway’s Game of Life.

He described himself as an amateur mathematician, often tackling problems that are best described as ‘recreational mathematics’. His work was not restricted to one area of maths, but often involved a combinatoric aspect.

Recreational mathematics occupied Guy’s mind for much longer than a normal lifetime, so you’ll have to take your pick from his bibliography. Fortunately, many of the problems and ideas that Guy wrote about can be tackled independently. The Nesting and Roosting Habits of the Laddered Parenthesis and The Number-Pad Game are two typical examples.

Two of the most approachable of Guy’s books are Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays, written with John H. Conway and Elwyn Berlekamp, and The Book of Numbers, written with John H. Conway.

We wrote a post on Guy’s 100th birthday, and the University of Calgary set up a page celebrating his life. Colm Mulcahy also wrote a long post summing up Guy’s first 100 years in his MAA blog.

Guy’s final book, The Unity of Combinatorics, co-authored with Ezra Brown, is due out in May from MAA Press.

Katherine Johnson (1918-2020)

Katherine Johnson

Mathematician Katherine Johnson has died at the age of 101. She calculated rocket trajectories and orbits for early NASA space flights, including the missions that sent the first American in space, the first American to orbit the Earth and the first men to walk on the Moon, as well as contributing early work on the Shuttle program and many other areas. She was one of the women featured in the book and film Hidden Figures in 2016.

Ada Lovelace Day is fundraising

Ada Lovelace Day (which is much more than just a day) is fundraising.

Mathematics is Everywhere worldwide video – call for contributions

International Day of Mathematics March 14

The International Day of Mathematics (a new national day from UNESCO) will take place on 14th March 2020. This includes a collective video, to which you are invited to contribute – if you’re quick:

We are putting together a collective video for the first official International Day of Mathematics centered on this year’s topic Mathematics is Everywhere. Clips from all over the world (including yours!) will illustrate the various places where math can be found.

The idea is you record a video of 15 seconds or less showing something that people might not realise is interesting mathematically, and send it in before 21st February 2020.

For more details of what and how to submit, including technical tips, check out the Mathematics is Everywhere Worldwide Video webpage.

Particularly mathematical New Years Honours 2020

It’s that time of year when we take a look at the UK Government’s New Years Honours list for any particularly mathematical entries. Here is the selection for this year – any more, let us know in the comments and we’ll add to the list. 

  • Prof. Nick Woodhouse, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, University of Oxford. Appointed CBE for services to Mathematics.
  • Prof. Abdel Babiker, Professor of Epidemiology & Medical Statistics, UCL. Appointed OBE for services to medical research.
  • Agnes Johnstone, Head of Mathematics, Oban High School. Awarded BEM for services to STEM Education and the community in Oban.

Get the full list here.