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mathematics

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.

Colorful isualization of the 59 isolated examples of tetrahedra that have rational dihedral angles
geometry

Tetrahedron Solutions Finally Proved Decades After Computer Search

February 2, 2021

Four mathematicians have cataloged all the tetrahedra with rational angles, resolving a question about basic geometric shapes using techniques from number theory.

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.

Illustration showing a human figure sitting on a large straw, gazing at different topological figures.
Quantized Columns

Topology 101: The Hole Truth

January 26, 2021

The relationships among the properties of flexible shapes have fascinated mathematicians for centuries.

Photo of Darden sitting on her couch and smiling
Q&A

The NASA Engineer Who’s a Mathematician at Heart

January 19, 2021

Christine Darden worked at NASA for 40 years, helping make supersonic planes quieter and forging a path for women to follow in her footsteps.

Illustration of mathematicians descending through a cavern whose walls are lined with polynomials.
polynomials

Mathematicians Resurrect Hilbert’s 13th Problem

January 14, 2021

Long considered solved, David Hilbert’s question about seventh-degree polynomials is leading researchers to a new web of mathematical connections.

Quantized Academy

The Crooked Geometry of Round Trips

January 13, 2021

Imagine if we lived on a cube-shaped Earth. How would you find the shortest path around the world?

An animation showing chaotic swirls of purple coalesce into a single line
Abstractions blog

New Quantum Algorithms Finally Crack Nonlinear Equations

January 5, 2021

Two teams found different ways for quantum computers to process nonlinear systems by first disguising them as linear ones.

number theory

How I Learned to Love and Fear the Riemann Hypothesis

January 4, 2021

A number theorist recalls his first encounter with the Riemann hypothesis and breaks down the math in a new Quanta video.