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mathematics

snake
insights puzzle

The Prime Rib Problem

Prime numbers are endlessly fascinating to number theorists and math enthusiasts. This month’s puzzle explores primes by cooking up a whimsical dish of grilled snake ribs.

Heavenly billiards
geometry

New Shapes Solve Infinite Pool-Table Problem

Two “rare jewels” have illuminated a mysterious multidimensional object that connects a huge variety of mathematical work.

Chameleons
insights puzzle

Solution: ‘Why Are There Two Sexes?’

The mathematical concept of parity and the fatal flaw of serial multiplication can help explain why having two sexes usually works better than having one or three.

Maryam Mirzakhani
Quantized Columns

The Beautiful Mathematical Explorations of Maryam Mirzakhani

After her untimely death, Maryam Mirzakhani’s life is best remembered through her work.

Kaisa Matomäki
Q&A

Kaisa Matomäki Dreams of Primes

Kaisa Matomäki has proved that properties of prime numbers over long intervals hold over short intervals as well. The techniques she uses have transformed the study of these elusive numbers.

Virus Hamiltonian Path
molecular biology

The Illuminating Geometry of Viruses

Mathematical insights into how RNA helps viruses pull together their protein shells could guide future studies of viral behavior and function.

Nash equilibrium maze
Game Theory

In Game Theory, No Clear Path to Equilibrium

John Nash’s notion of equilibrium is ubiquitous in economic theory, but a new study shows that it is often impossible to reach efficiently.

Marjorie Rice
Abstractions blog

Marjorie Rice’s Secret Pentagons

A California housewife who in the 1970s discovered four new types of tessellating pentagons is dead at 94.

15 pentagon tessellations
geometry

Pentagon Tiling Proof Solves Century-Old Math Problem

A French mathematician has completed the classification of all convex pentagons, and therefore all convex polygons, that tile the plane.