What's up in

machine learning

A glass object being shaped by a blowtorch.]
Abstractions blog

Why Is Glass Rigid? Signs of Its Secret Structure Emerge.

July 7, 2020

At the molecular level, glass looks like a liquid. But an artificial neural network has picked up on hidden structure in its molecules that may explain why glass is rigid like a solid.

A digital simulacrum of a protein.
abstractions blog

A Digital Locksmith Has Decoded Biology’s Molecular Keys

June 3, 2020

Neural networks have been taught to quickly read the surfaces of proteins — molecules critical to many biological processes.

Illustration of a robot translating calculus into branching, tree-like structures
artificial intelligence

Symbolic Mathematics Finally Yields to Neural Networks

May 20, 2020

After translating some of math’s complicated equations, researchers have created an AI system that they hope will answer even bigger questions.

artificial intelligence

Common Sense Comes Closer to Computers

April 30, 2020

The problem of common-sense reasoning has plagued the field of artificial intelligence for over 50 years. Now a new approach, borrowing from two disparate lines of thinking, has made important progress.

An illustration in which a capsule-shaped drug imprinted with circuit-board diagrams blasts nearby bacteria.
artificial intelligence

Machine Learning Takes On Antibiotic Resistance

March 9, 2020

To combat resistant bacteria and refill the trickling antibiotic pipeline, scientists are getting help from deep learning networks.

An AI genie turning a home into a jungle.
artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence Will Do What We Ask. That’s a Problem.

January 30, 2020

By teaching machines to understand our true desires, one scientist hopes to avoid the potentially disastrous consequences of having them do what we command.

Photo of Scarlett Howard, a researcher at the University of Toulouse, working with honeybees
Q&A

Secrets of Math From the Bee Whisperer

January 22, 2020

As Scarlett Howard taught honeybees to do arithmetic, they showed her how fundamental numbers might be to all brains.

Illustration of a pair of lungs being scanned in three dimensions, with a status bar that reads “Scanning lung tissue: 60%.”
artificial intelligence

An Idea From Physics Helps AI See in Higher Dimensions

January 9, 2020

The laws of physics stay the same no matter one’s perspective. Now this idea is allowing computers to detect features in curved and higher-dimensional space.

Art for "Quanta’s Year in Math and Computer Science (2019)"
2019 in Review

The Year in Math and Computer Science

December 23, 2019

Mathematicians and computer scientists made big progress in number theory, graph theory, machine learning and quantum computing, even as they reexamined our fundamental understanding of mathematics and neural networks.