What's up in

mathematics

Subhash Khot
Thinking Places

Subhash Khot, Playing Unique Games in Washington Square Park

The theoretical computer scientist behind the influential Unique Games Conjecture delights in the wonders of New York’s Washington Square Park, where he ponders the impossible.

Chameleons
insights puzzle

Why Are There Two Sexes?

Asexual reproduction can produce twice as many offspring as sexual reproduction without the hassle of finding and courting a mate. So why do most complex animals have two sexes? Why not three?

Graph
Abstractions blog

The Tricky Translation of Mathematical Ideas

Big advances in math can happen when mathematicians move ideas into areas where they seem like they shouldn’t belong.

June Huh at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.
algebraic geometry

A Path Less Taken to the Peak of the Math World

June Huh thought he had no talent for math until a chance meeting with a legendary mind. A decade later, his unorthodox approach to mathematical thinking has led to major breakthroughs.

Yitang Zhang
Thinking Places

Yitang Zhang’s Santa Barbara Beach Walk

An obscure number theorist who became an overnight sensation with a major proof about the gaps between prime numbers now finds quiet inspiration walking along the Pacific Coast.

Paul Erdős
Abstractions blog

Cash for Math: The Erdős Prizes Live On

Paul Erdős placed small bounties on hundreds of unsolved math problems. Over the past 20 years, only a handful have been claimed.

Combinatorics and constellations
combinatorics

A Puzzle of Clever Connections Nears a Happy End

The three young friends who devised the “happy ending” problem would become some of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th century, but were never able to solve their own puzzle. Now it receives its first big breakthrough.

Juggler
Abstractions blog

The Mathematics of Juggling

Juggling has advanced enormously in recent decades, thanks in part to the mathematical study of possible patterns.

Illustration: black, numbered cats crossing a calendar. An extra "13" lurks in the background.
insights puzzle

Solution: ‘Friday the 13th’

There’s more than one good way to bring order to our unruly, seemingly arbitrary calendar.