Kevin Hartnett

Senior Writer

Animation of different rectangles made by connecting four points on a colorful loop.
geometry

New Geometric Perspective Cracks Old Problem About Rectangles

June 25, 2020

While locked down due to COVID-19, Joshua Greene and Andrew Lobb figured out how to prove a version of the “rectangular peg problem.”

Diagram showing a colorful visualization of the simple Lie group
Abstractions blog

The ‘Useless’ Perspective That Transformed Mathematics

June 9, 2020

Representation theory was initially dismissed. Today, it’s central to much of mathematics.

Photo of various colorful maps
Abstractions blog

In Mathematics, It Often Takes a Good Map to Find Answers

June 1, 2020

Mathematicians try to figure out when problems can be solved using current knowledge — and when they have to chart a new path instead.

Photo of iron filings spread along magnetic field lines on a green and yellow background
number theory

Mathematician Measures the Repulsive Force Within Polynomials

May 14, 2020

Vesselin Dimitrov’s proof of the Schinzel-Zassenhaus conjecture quantifies the way special values of polynomials push each other apart.

Abstractions blog

Math After COVID-19

April 28, 2020

Modern mathematics relies on collaboration and travel. COVID-19 is making it increasingly difficult.

Black and white photo of John Conway against a black background
Abstractions blog

John Conway Solved Mathematical Problems With His Bare Hands

April 20, 2020

The legendary mathematician, who died on April 11, was curious, colorful and one of the greatest problem-solvers of his generation.

Animation showing multiple particles of light flowing together and leaving blue trails
Abstractions blog

Graced With Knowledge, Mathematicians Seek to Understand

April 8, 2020

A landmark proof in computer science has also solved an important problem called the Connes embedding conjecture. Mathematicians are working to understand it.

Photo of two mathematicians drawing on a chalkboard
topology

Mathematics as a Team Sport

March 31, 2020

When 50 mathematicians spend a week in the woods, there’s no telling what will happen. And that’s the point.

An animation showing a 3-by-3 Latin square, with numbers color coded, and the equivalent graph.
Abstractions blog

‘Rainbows’ Are a Mathematician’s Best Friend

March 18, 2020

“Rainbow colorings” recently led to a new proof. It’s not the first time they’ve come in handy.