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

The physicist-mathematician Miranda Cheng is working to harness a mysterious connection between string theory, algebra and number theory.

Greatness was always expected of Ken Ono. But as he struggled with his parents’ expectations, he found solace and inspiration in the life of two-time college dropout — and mathematical genius — Srinivasa Ramanujan, the subject of the film *The Man Who Knew Infinity*.

Researchers are on the trail of a mysterious connection between number theory, algebra and string theory.