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data

A close-up, head-on portrait of computer scientist Rediet Abebe.
Q&A

A Computer Scientist Who Tackles Inequality Through Algorithms

April 1, 2021

Rediet Abebe uses the tools of theoretical computer science to understand pressing social problems — and try to fix them.

Illustration of researchers trying to reconstruct the shape of an epidemic curve from its distorted shadow on the floor.
COVID-19

Chasing the Elusive Numbers That Define Epidemics

March 22, 2021

Most modeling efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic have sought to address urgent practical concerns. But some groups aim to bolster the theoretical underpinnings of that work instead.

Looping video shows a constantly shifting set of curves and a moving keyhole view of the pandemic coronavirus.
COVID-19

The Hard Lessons of Modeling the Coronavirus Pandemic

January 28, 2021

In the fight against COVID-19, disease modelers have struggled against misunderstanding and misuse of their work. They have also come to realize how unready the state of modeling was for this pandemic.

Q&A

The Computer Scientist Who Shrinks Big Data

December 7, 2020

Jelani Nelson designs clever algorithms that only have to remember slivers of massive data sets. He also teaches kids in Ethiopia how to code.

Photo of Ronald Rivest sitting in his office
Q&A

Cryptography Pioneer Seeks Secure Elections the Low-Tech Way

March 12, 2020

Ronald Rivest helped come up with the RSA algorithm, which safeguards online commerce. Now he’s hoping to make democratic elections more trustworthy.

Art for "How Geometry, Data and Neighbors Predict Your Favorite Movies"
Quantized Academy

How Geometry, Data and Neighbors Predict Your Favorite Movies

May 22, 2019

A little high school geometry can help you understand the basic math behind movie recommendation engines.

Art for "New Turmoil Over Weighing Genes’ Share of Complex Traits"
genomics

New Turmoil Over Predicting the Effects of Genes

April 23, 2019

Promising efforts at disentangling the effects of genes and the environment on complicated traits may have been confounded by statistical problems.

Art for "Usain Bolt’s Split Times and the Power of Calculus"
Quantized Columns

Usain Bolt’s Split Times and the Power of Calculus

April 3, 2019

Just how fast can the fastest human run? This adapted book excerpt from Infinite Powers reveals how calculus helps us investigate the nature of motion and change.

Q&A

She Finds Clues to Future Sustainability in Old Food Webs

March 21, 2019

By reconstructing prehistoric food webs and analyzing the diverse interactions of humans with other species, the ecologist Jennifer Dunne is developing a new understanding of sustainability through network science.