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An abstract illustration showing broken tools, cubes, numbers and other abstract representations of impossible math
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When Math Gets Impossibly Hard

September 14, 2020

Mathematicians have long grappled with the reality that some problems just don’t have solutions.

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.


The Map of Mathematics

February 13, 2020

Explore our surprisingly simple, absurdly ambitious and necessarily incomplete guide to the boundless mathematical universe.

Animation showing two sets of tangrams cycling between identical squares and different shapes.

Mathematicians Cut Apart Shapes to Find Pieces of Equations

October 31, 2019

New work on the problem of “scissors congruence” explains when it’s possible to slice up one shape and reassemble it as another.

Quantized Academy

The (Imaginary) Numbers at the Edge of Reality

October 25, 2018

Odd enough to potentially model the strangeness of the physical world, complex numbers with “imaginary” components are rooted in the familiar.

Art for "Why Mathematicians Can’t Find the Hay in a Haystack"
Abstractions blog

Why Mathematicians Can’t Find the Hay in a Haystack

September 17, 2018

In math, sometimes the most common things are the hardest to find.

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Abstractions blog

The Strange Numbers That Birthed Modern Algebra

September 6, 2018

The 19th-century discovery of numbers called “quaternions” gave mathematicians a way to describe rotations in space, forever changing physics and math.

Illustration of a complex shape casting a shadow

Tinkertoy Models Produce New Geometric Insights

September 5, 2018

An upstart field that simplifies complex shapes is letting mathematicians understand how those shapes depend on the space in which you visualize them.

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Quantized Academy

Symmetry, Algebra and the Monster

August 17, 2017

To begin to understand what mathematicians and physicists see in the abstract structures of symmetries, let’s start with a familiar shape.