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mathematics

Neutrinos and matrices
mathematical physics

Neutrinos Lead to Unexpected Discovery in Basic Math

November 13, 2019

Three physicists stumbled across an unexpected relationship between some of the most ubiquitous objects in math.

Abstractions blog

Mathematicians Calculate How Randomness Creeps In

November 12, 2019

Mathematicians have figured out exactly how many moves it takes to randomize a 15 puzzle.

An illustration of a mathematician staring up at an infinite pile of cubes of varying sizes and colors.
Quantized Academy

Why the Sum of Three Cubes Is a Hard Math Problem

November 5, 2019

Looking for answers in infinite space is hard. High school math can help narrow your search.

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

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.

A fractal pattern.
neuroscience

A Power Law Keeps the Brain’s Perceptions Balanced

October 22, 2019

Researchers have discovered a surprising mathematical relationship in the brain’s representations of sensory information, with possible applications to AI research.

Photo of a yellow sunflower against a yellow background.
Abstractions blog

Mathematicians Begin to Tame Wild ‘Sunflower’ Problem

October 21, 2019

A major advance toward solving the 60-year-old sunflower conjecture is shedding light on how order begins to appear as random systems grow in size.

insights puzzle

How Randomness Can Arise From Determinism

October 14, 2019

Playing with a simple bean machine illustrates how deterministic laws can produce probabilistic, random-seeming behavior.

foundations of mathematics

With Category Theory, Mathematics Escapes From Equality

October 10, 2019

Two monumental works have led many mathematicians to avoid the equal sign. The process has not always gone smoothly.

Quantized Columns

Why I Called It ‘Quantum Supremacy’

October 2, 2019

Researchers finally seem to have a quantum computer that can outperform a classical computer. But what does that really mean?