You're reading: News

Scientists call for an end to statistical significance

A group of over 800 scientists have signed their names to an article published in Nature, explaining why statistical significance shouldn’t be relied on so heavily as a measure of the success of an experiment. We asked statistics buff Andrew Steele to explain.

History of maths competitions for secondary school students and undergraduates

British Society for the History of Mathematics

Two competitions have been announced by the British Society for the History of Mathematics.


The schools competition invites participants to “make a case for the most important/your favourite mathematician in the history of mathematics” by either writing an article or producing a video or multi-media project.

This competition is your chance to explore how mathematics has developed and achieved its status and who were the most important mathematicians in history who contributed to it. This year we would like you to concentrate on choosing one mathematician who has, in your opinion, been the most important person, your favourite, and to make the case for it – to explain his/her mathematics and to show their importance or what you think was special about it and them.

This is run with Plus Magazine and there are two categories for ages 11-15 and 16-19. The deadline for entries is 1st September 2019. Guidance, rules, etc. via BSHM Schools Plus Competition.


The Undergraduate Essay Competition invites essays on any topic in history of mathematics of no more than 2500 words in length and is open to people enrolled as undergraduates in UK and Irish universities in academic year 2018/19. The deadline is 21st June 2019. Guidance, rules, etc. via BSHM Undergraduate Essay Prize.

Recent mathematical awards

As well as the recent Abel Prize award to Karen Uhlenbeck, here are some other mathematical and related awards from this month.

Abel Prize 2019 goes to Karen Uhlenbeck

Karen Uhlenbeck writing on a blackboard
Karen Uhlenbeck, by Andrea Kane/Institute for Advanced Study

The Abel Prize for 2019 has been awarded to Karen Uhlenbeck. The citation reads:

for her pioneering achievements in geometric partial differential equations, gauge theory and integrable systems, and for the fundamental impact of her work on analysis, geometry and mathematical physics.

π calculated to 31 trillion digits

This Pi Day, Emma Haruka Iwao has announced calculation of \(\pi\) to \( \pi \times 10^{13} = 31,\!415,\!926,\!535,\!897 \) digits, exceeding the previous record of 22 trillion digits set in November 2016.

This used y-cruncher, running Chudnovky’s algorithm. Chudnovky’s algorithm is \( \mathcal{O}(n(\log n)^3)\), making each record more impressive. In a blog post, Emma writes about the benefits of using a cloud cluster, saying the calculation ran on a virtual machine cluster, using

25 nodes for 111.8 days, or 2,795 machine-days (7.6 machine-years), during which time Google Cloud performed thousands of live migrations uninterrupted and with no impact on the calculation process.

Ways to access the digits and fun related bits and bobs are outlined in the blog post.

More information

Pi in the sky: Calculating a record-breaking 31.4 trillion digits of Archimedes’ constant on Google Cloud by Emma Haruka Iwao.

Emma Haruka Iwao smashes pi world record with Google help, BBC News.

33 can be written as the sum of three cubes

It was an open question whether 33 could be written as the sum of three cubes. Thanks to Andrew R. Booker, it now isn’t.

\begin{array}{c} (8866128975287528)^3 \\ + \\(-8778405442862239)^3 \\ + \\(-2736111468807040)^3 \\ = \\ 33\end{array}