What's up in

mathematics

algorithms

New Algorithm Breaks Speed Limit for Solving Linear Equations

March 8, 2021

By harnessing randomness, a new algorithm achieves a fundamentally novel — and faster — way of performing one of the most basic computations in math and computer science.

Quantized Columns

Isadore Singer Transcended Mathematical Boundaries

March 4, 2021

A former graduate student reflects on how Isadore Singer, who died on February 11, brought together mathematicians, physicists and anyone else interested in the deeper connections between diverse fields.

A house of cards propped up by a letter i, the unit of imaginary numbers.
quantum physics

Imaginary Numbers May Be Essential for Describing Reality

March 3, 2021

A new thought experiment indicates that quantum mechanics doesn’t work without strange numbers that turn negative when squared.

An illustration showing Steven Strogatz at a microphone, surrounded by a swirl of icons representing different subjects.
The Joy of x

New Season of The Joy of x Podcast Explores Scientists’ Inner Lives

March 2, 2021

In a second season of enlightened conversations, Steven Strogatz and leading researchers nourish our pandemic-starved minds.

geometry

Statistics Postdoc Tames Decades-Old Geometry Problem

March 1, 2021

To the surprise of experts in the field, a postdoctoral statistician has solved one of the most important problems in high-dimensional convex geometry.

An illustration of a doughnut-shaped elliptic curve intertwined with the Julia set.
number theory

Mathematicians Set Numbers in Motion to Unlock Their Secrets

February 22, 2021

A new proof demonstrates the power of arithmetic dynamics, an emerging discipline that combines insights from number theory and dynamical systems.

Po-Shen Loh standing on a stairway in front of a colored wall outside of his office in Pittsburgh.
Q&A

The Coach Who Led the U.S. Math Team Back to the Top

February 16, 2021

Po-Shen Loh has harnessed his competitive impulses and iconoclastic tendencies to reinvigorate the U.S. Math Olympiad program.

Insights puzzle

Zen and the Art of Puzzle Solving

February 10, 2021

Sometimes the act of solving a puzzle can itself reveal hidden insights.

Abstractions blog

Undergraduates Hunt for Special Tetrahedra That Fit Together

February 9, 2021

A group of MIT undergraduates is searching for tetrahedra that tile space, the latest effort in a millennia-long inquiry. They’ve already made a new discovery.