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mathematics

Black and white photo of John Conway against a black background
Abstractions blog

John Conway Solved Mathematical Problems With His Bare Hands

April 20, 2020

The legendary mathematician, who died on April 11, was curious, colorful and one of the greatest problem-solvers of his generation.

Photo of Freeman Dyson standing in a meadow in front of a forest
Quantized Columns

Remembering the Unstoppable Freeman Dyson

April 13, 2020

Freeman Dyson — physicist, mathematician, writer and idea factory — died on February 28, but his vitality lives on.

Animation showing multiple particles of light flowing together and leaving blue trails
Abstractions blog

Graced With Knowledge, Mathematicians Seek to Understand

April 8, 2020

A landmark proof in computer science has also solved an important problem called the Connes embedding conjecture. Mathematicians are working to understand it.

theoretical physics

Does Time Really Flow? New Clues Come From a Century-Old Approach to Math.

April 7, 2020

The laws of physics imply that the passage of time is an illusion. To avoid this conclusion, we might have to rethink the reality of infinitely precise numbers.

Langlands program

‘Amazing’ Math Bridge Extended Beyond Fermat’s Last Theorem

April 6, 2020

Mathematicians have figured out how to expand the reach of a mysterious bridge connecting two distant continents in the mathematical world.

Photo of two mathematicians drawing on a chalkboard
topology

Mathematics as a Team Sport

March 31, 2020

When 50 mathematicians spend a week in the woods, there’s no telling what will happen. And that’s the point.

An animation showing a 3-by-3 Latin square, with numbers color coded, and the equivalent graph.
Abstractions blog

‘Rainbows’ Are a Mathematician’s Best Friend

March 18, 2020

“Rainbow colorings” recently led to a new proof. It’s not the first time they’ve come in handy.

Multimedia

What Is the Geometry of the Universe?

March 16, 2020

In our mind’s eye, the universe seems to go on forever. But using geometry we can explore a variety of three-dimensional shapes that offer alternatives to “ordinary” infinite space.

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.