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Computers are providing solutions to math problems that we can't check - "A computer has solved the longstanding Erdős discrepancy problem! Trouble is, we have no idea what it's talking about — because the solution, which is as long as all of Wikipedia's pages combined, is far too voluminous for us puny humans to confirm." (via; previously ;)

posted by kliuless on Apr 12, 2014 - 24 comments

posted by kliuless on Apr 12, 2014 - 24 comments

Did you know there's a direct correlation between the decline in Spirograph popularity and the rise in gang activity? Reverse this deplorable trend by playing around with the Guilloché spiral pattern generator! [more inside]

posted by Iridic on Mar 28, 2014 - 34 comments

posted by Iridic on Mar 28, 2014 - 34 comments

Finite time blowup for an averaged three-dimensional Navier-Stokes equation - "[Terence Tao] has shown that in an alternative abstract universe closely related to the one described by the Navier-Stokes equations, it is possible for a body of fluid to form a sort of computer, which can build a self-replicating fluid robot that, like the Cat in the Hat, keeps transferring its energy to smaller and smaller copies of itself until the fluid 'blows up.' " [1,2,3] (previously)

posted by kliuless on Mar 9, 2014 - 15 comments

posted by kliuless on Mar 9, 2014 - 15 comments

Network Theory Overview - "The idea: nature and the world of human technology are full of networks! People like to draw diagrams of networks. Mathematical physicists know that in principle these diagrams can be understood using category theory. But why should physicists have all the fun? This is the century of *understanding living systems and adapting to life on a finite planet*. Math isn't the main thing we need, but it's got to be part of the solution... so one thing we should do is develop a unified and powerful theory of networks." (via ;)

posted by kliuless on Mar 2, 2014 - 17 comments

posted by kliuless on Mar 2, 2014 - 17 comments

Each month, the Notices of the American Math Society runs a column called "What is...." which aims to explain an advanced mathematical concept in two pages, at a level accessible to a good undergrad math major. Armin Straub, a postdoc at Illinois, has collected them all in one place. [more inside]

posted by escabeche on Feb 26, 2014 - 33 comments

posted by escabeche on Feb 26, 2014 - 33 comments

A/B testing has become a familiar term for most people running web sites, especially e-commerce sites. Unfortunately, most A/B test results are illusory (PDF, 312 kB). Here's how not to run an A/B test. Do use this sample size calculator or this weird trick.

posted by Foci for Analysis on Feb 23, 2014 - 38 comments

posted by Foci for Analysis on Feb 23, 2014 - 38 comments

The emotional experience of mathematical elegance. A new study by the perceptual neurobiologist Semir Zeki and the great mathematician (& Fields Medalist) Sir Michael Atiyah examines fMRI scans of mathematicians viewing formulae which they'd previously rated as beautiful or ugly, and reports that mathematical beauty elicits activity in the same brain regions as great art or music.

posted by Westringia F. on Feb 21, 2014 - 36 comments

posted by Westringia F. on Feb 21, 2014 - 36 comments

Random necktie knot generator [more inside]

posted by prize bull octorok on Feb 19, 2014 - 33 comments

posted by prize bull octorok on Feb 19, 2014 - 33 comments

Open warfare erupts in the world of mathematical biology, as Lior Pachter of UC-Berkeley writes three blog posts attacking two papers in Nature Bioscience, accusing one of them of being "dishonest and fraudulent": The Network Nonsense of Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, The Network Nonsense of Manolo Kellis, and Why I Read the Network Nonsense Papers. Kellis (MIT) and his co-authors respond (.pdf.)

posted by escabeche on Feb 12, 2014 - 53 comments

posted by escabeche on Feb 12, 2014 - 53 comments

While the concept of shunya or "zero", both as place holder in the decimal system and as "null" or "nothingness" has been historically attributed to the Indian mathematician/astronomer Aryabhata, it was when I went to search for its history and impact that whole new world was revealed. From culture and art to spiritual practice, the concept of zero has captured the imagination of many throughout the ages. Books have been written, its origins debated while the etymology of the word itself sometimes replaces understanding. From a disconcerting concept of nothingness to the ubiquitous misspelling of the one followed by a hundred zeros, Shunya today is more than just the gaping void it originally represented.

posted by infini on Feb 7, 2014 - 55 comments

posted by infini on Feb 7, 2014 - 55 comments

The pressure of a human bite is about 1/9th of the atmospheric pressure on Venus. The fastest bacterium on earth is just outstripping the fastest glacier. A square meter of sunshine in the spring imparts about 1 horsepower. [more inside]

posted by kagredon on Dec 7, 2013 - 20 comments

posted by kagredon on Dec 7, 2013 - 20 comments

Headlines from a Mathematically Literate World [more inside]

posted by Blasdelb on Dec 4, 2013 - 32 comments

posted by Blasdelb on Dec 4, 2013 - 32 comments

Closing in on the twin prime conjecture (Quanta) - "Just months after Zhang announced his result, Maynard has presented an independent proof that pushes the gap down to 600. A new Polymath project is in the planning stages, to try to combine the collaboration's techniques with Maynard's approach to push this bound even lower." [more inside]

posted by kliuless on Dec 1, 2013 - 16 comments

posted by kliuless on Dec 1, 2013 - 16 comments

posted by Iridic on Nov 19, 2013 - 43 comments

...to leave a smile on your face, by Helder Guimarães: Individual vs Crowd | Chaos | Freedom | Trick [more inside]

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Nov 8, 2013 - 12 comments

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Nov 8, 2013 - 12 comments

The Washington Post reports on a ridiculous mathematics test for first graders administered under New York's Common Core standards initiative. [Common Core previously.]

posted by Westringia F. on Nov 1, 2013 - 197 comments

posted by Westringia F. on Nov 1, 2013 - 197 comments

GaMuSo is an application of BioGraph-based data mining to music, which helps you get recommendations for other musicians. Based on 140K user-defined tags from last.fm that are collected for over 400K artists, results are sorted by the "nearest" or most probable matches for your artist of interest (algorithm described here). [more inside]

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Oct 2, 2013 - 17 comments

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Oct 2, 2013 - 17 comments

Unleashing Genetic Algorithms on the iOS 7 Icon - In the pursuit of something just a bit tighter than Marc Edwards' superellipse approximation, Mike Swanson applies genetic algorithms to the task of making a better button-making script.

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Sep 26, 2013 - 19 comments

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Sep 26, 2013 - 19 comments

Paper Matrix is a blog that gives instructions for cool papercraft objects, "reinterpreting the Danish tradition of woven paper hearts and ornaments." Cut paper in the prescribed ways and weave it together carefully to make a mobile of colorful hot air balloons, gorgeous and complex boxes; simple but satisfying pennants and much more... including a full theater for performances by paper dolls.

posted by LobsterMitten on Sep 23, 2013 - 18 comments

posted by LobsterMitten on Sep 23, 2013 - 18 comments

Revelations in the field of quantum physics have resulted in the discovery of the Amplituhedron, a jewel-like higher dimensional object whose volume elegantly predicts fundamental physical processes that took the brilliant Dr. Richard Feynman hundreds of pages of abstruse mathematics to describe.
The theoretical manifold not only enables simple pen-and-paper calculation of physics that would normally require supercomputers to work out, but also challenges basic assumptions about the nature of reality -- forgoing the core concepts of locality and unitarity and suggesting that space and time are merely emergent properties of a timeless, infinitely-sided "master amplituhedron," whose geometry represents the sum total of all physical interactions.
**More:** The 152-page source paper on arXiv [PDF] - Lead author Nima Arkani-Hamed's hour-long lecture at SUSY 2013 - Scans of Arkani-Hamed's handwritten lecture notes - A far more detailed lecture series "Scattering Without Space Time": one, two, three - Arkani-Hamed previously on MeFi - A hot-off-the-presses Wikipedia page (watch this space)

posted by Rhaomi on Sep 18, 2013 - 128 comments

posted by Rhaomi on Sep 18, 2013 - 128 comments

The Movie Math Quiz: Can you figure out which movies are being described by these mathematical equations?

posted by schmod on Sep 10, 2013 - 13 comments

posted by schmod on Sep 10, 2013 - 13 comments

Wonkblog has a new advice column called "Dear Dylan" where Dylan Matthews answers the usual advice column staples using game theory, mathematics and charts.

posted by reenum on Aug 25, 2013 - 30 comments

posted by reenum on Aug 25, 2013 - 30 comments

Making Music with a Möbius Strip : "It turns out that musical chords naturally inhabit various topological spaces, which show all the possible paths that a composer can use to move between chords. Surprisingly, the space of two-note chords is a Möbius strip."

posted by dhruva on Aug 15, 2013 - 16 comments

posted by dhruva on Aug 15, 2013 - 16 comments

tholman.com is the playground and folio of interactive developer Tim Holman, where he has posted 15 different projects, both interactive (fizzy cam [info/demo]; ZenPen; Texter; and Image Nodes) and passive (Meet the Ipsums, more than 30 text generators, from corporate to batman; the useless web; dripping paint). [more inside]

posted by filthy light thief on Aug 7, 2013 - 8 comments

posted by filthy light thief on Aug 7, 2013 - 8 comments

The regular polygons have been kidnapped by ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude/tte to construct the regular polygons with nothing but a virtual compass and straightedge? [more inside]

posted by Iridic on Jul 3, 2013 - 67 comments

posted by Iridic on Jul 3, 2013 - 67 comments

This Simple Math Puzzle Will Melt Your Brain

"Adding and subtracting ones sounds simple, right? Not according to the old Italian mathematician Grandi—who showed that a simple addition of 1s and -1s can give three different answers."

posted by andoatnp on Jul 2, 2013 - 61 comments

"Adding and subtracting ones sounds simple, right? Not according to the old Italian mathematician Grandi—who showed that a simple addition of 1s and -1s can give three different answers."

posted by andoatnp on Jul 2, 2013 - 61 comments

You Are Not So Smart: Survivorship Bias, demonstrated through Abraham Wald's work at the Statistical Research Group in World War 2. [more inside]

posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 6, 2013 - 48 comments

posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 6, 2013 - 48 comments

In August of last year, mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki reported that he had solved one of the great puzzles of number theory: the ABC conjecture (previously on Metafilter). Almost a year later, no one else knows whether he has succeeded. No one can understand his proof.

posted by painquale on May 10, 2013 - 59 comments

posted by painquale on May 10, 2013 - 59 comments

Mathematician Kenneth Appel has died at the age of 80. He is best known for having proved, with Wolfgang Haken, the four-color theorem, which states that only four colors are needed to have a map in which no two adjacent countries have the same color. [more inside]

posted by Cash4Lead on Apr 29, 2013 - 21 comments

posted by Cash4Lead on Apr 29, 2013 - 21 comments

Mathematicians Henry Segerman and Saul Schleimer have produced a triple gear, three linked gears in space that can rotate together. A short writeup of the topology and geometry behind the triple gear on the arXiv.

posted by escabeche on Apr 26, 2013 - 36 comments

posted by escabeche on Apr 26, 2013 - 36 comments

Using computer systems for doing mathematical proofs - "With the proliferation of computer-assisted proofs that are all but impossible to check by hand, Hales thinks computers must become the judge." [more inside]

posted by kliuless on Mar 16, 2013 - 25 comments

posted by kliuless on Mar 16, 2013 - 25 comments

The origins of plus and minus signs - "There be other 2 signes in often use of which the first is made thus + and betokeneth more: the other is thus made – and betokeneth lesse."

posted by spbmp on Mar 12, 2013 - 30 comments

posted by spbmp on Mar 12, 2013 - 30 comments

Every film Pixar has produced has landed in the top fifty highest-grossing animated films of all time. What's their secret? Mathematics. Oh, and 22 Rules of Storytelling. [more inside]

posted by zarq on Mar 8, 2013 - 40 comments

posted by zarq on Mar 8, 2013 - 40 comments

Bayesian analysis shows redshirts are not most likely to die on Star Trek:TOS. *Although Enterprise crew members in redshirts suffer many more casualties than crew members in other uniforms, they suffer fewer casualties than crew members in gold uniforms when the entire population size is considered. Only 10% of the entire redshirt population was lost during the three year run of Star Trek. This is less than the 13.4% of goldshirts, but more than the 5.1% of blueshirts. What is truly hazardous is not wearing a redshirt, but being a member of the security department. The red-shirted members of security were only 20.9% of the entire crew, but there is a 61.9% chance that the next casualty is in a redshirt and 64.5% chance this red-shirted victim is a member of the security department. The remaining redshirts, operations and engineering make up the largest single population, but only have an 8.6% chance of being a casualty.*

posted by Cash4Lead on Feb 20, 2013 - 75 comments

posted by Cash4Lead on Feb 20, 2013 - 75 comments

Henry Reich of Minute Physics shares his favorite science blogs, video channels, and other resources on the web. (Minute Physics previously) [more inside]

posted by ocherdraco on Feb 8, 2013 - 5 comments

posted by ocherdraco on Feb 8, 2013 - 5 comments

Tim Gowers has announced a series of arXiv overlay journals called the Episciences Project that aim to exclude existing publishers from research publication in mathematics. As arXiv overlays, the Episciences Project avoids the editing and typesetting costs that existing open-access journals pay for using article processing charges. The French Centre pour la Communication Scientifique Directe (CCSD) is backing the remaining expenses, such as developing the platform. [more inside]

posted by jeffburdges on Jan 19, 2013 - 11 comments

posted by jeffburdges on Jan 19, 2013 - 11 comments

"The models we discuss belong to the class of two-variable systems with one delay for which appropriate delay stabilizes an unstable steady state. We formulate a theorem and prove that stabilization takes place in our case. We conclude that considerable (meaning large enough, but not too large) values of time delay involved in the model can stabilize love affairs dynamics." [more inside]

posted by bluefly on Jan 16, 2013 - 12 comments

posted by bluefly on Jan 16, 2013 - 12 comments

Numberphile is a website containing short videos (approx. 5-10 min.) about numbers and stuff. Mathematicians and physicists play around with the tools of their trade and explain things in simple, clear language. Learn things you didn't know you were interested in! Find out why 493-7775 is a pretty cool phone number! What's the significance of 42, anyway? What the heck is a vampire number? Why does Pac-Man have only 255 screens?
Suitable for viewing by everyone from intelligent and curious middle-schoolers to math-impaired adults. Browse their YouTube channel here. (Via)

posted by BitterOldPunk on Dec 29, 2012 - 20 comments

posted by BitterOldPunk on Dec 29, 2012 - 20 comments

Last night was the grand opening of the Museum of Mathematics in New York City, the only museum of its kind in North America. The video is narrated by MoMath's chief of content, mathematical sculptor George Hart (better known in some circles as Vi Hart's dad.) The sculpture of the space of three-note chords in the video is based on the work of Dmitri Tymoczko, and the lovely curved hammock of strings a visitor is sitting in at the end is a ruled quadric surface. Many more videos at the Museum of Mathematics YouTube channel. Coverage from the New Scientist. (Previously on MetaFilter.)

posted by escabeche on Dec 13, 2012 - 24 comments

posted by escabeche on Dec 13, 2012 - 24 comments

Rosalind.info is a website with bioinformatics problems inspired by Project Euler (previously, previouslier.) [more inside]

posted by lizarrd on Dec 8, 2012 - 21 comments

posted by lizarrd on Dec 8, 2012 - 21 comments

"Draw some random points on a piece of paper and join them up to make a random polygon. Find all the midpoints and connecting them up to give a new shape, and repeat. The resulting shape will get smaller and smaller, and will tend towards an ellipse!" [code to make this in Mathematica] [a version which allows you to watch the process step by step, with 10 vertices or 100]

posted by ocherdraco on Dec 3, 2012 - 65 comments

posted by ocherdraco on Dec 3, 2012 - 65 comments

The Nature of Computation - Intellects Vast and Warm and Sympathetic: "I hand you a network or graph, and ask whether there is a path through the network that crosses each edge exactly once, returning to its starting point. (That is, I ask whether there is a 'Eulerian' cycle.) Then I hand you another network, and ask whether there is a path which visits each node exactly once. (That is, I ask whether there is a 'Hamiltonian' cycle.) How hard is it to answer me?" (via) [more inside]

posted by kliuless on Dec 1, 2012 - 19 comments

posted by kliuless on Dec 1, 2012 - 19 comments

Maximum gravy: Vi hart, daughter of George & mathemusician at The Khan Academy, cooks mathematical potatoes to go along with a symmetrical Turduckenen. Have a delicious Thanksgiving. [more inside]

posted by growabrain on Nov 22, 2012 - 21 comments

posted by growabrain on Nov 22, 2012 - 21 comments

"We have little trouble recognizing that a chess grandmaster’s victory over a novice is skill, as well as assuming that Paul the octopus’s ability to predict World Cup games is due to chance. But what about everything else?" [Luck and Skill Untangled: The Science of Success]

posted by vidur on Nov 20, 2012 - 16 comments

posted by vidur on Nov 20, 2012 - 16 comments