NERD HARDER! FBI Director reiterates faith-based belief in working crypto that he can break

Working cryptography's pretty amazing: because of its fundamental theoretical soundness, we can trust it to secure the firmware updates to our pacemakers; the conversations we have with our loved ones, lawyers and business colleagues; the financial transactions the world depends on; and the integrity of all sorts of data, communications and transactions. Read the rest

Statistical proof that voter ID laws are racially discriminatory

In ADGN: An Algorithm for Record Linkage Using Address, Date of Birth, Gender, and Name, newly published in Statistics and Public Policy, a pair of researchers from Harvard and Tufts build a statistical model to analyze the impact of the voter ID laws passed in Republican-controlled states as part of a wider voter suppression project that was explicitly aimed at suppressing the votes of racialised people, historically likely to vote Democrat. Read the rest

Math theorem: the most misshapen ham sandwich can always be cut into two perfect halves

Mathematician Hannah Fry explains the "Ham Sandwich Theorem," a mathematical concept that says that even the most poorly constructed sandwich can be cut exactly in half with only one straight cut of a knife. Read the rest

Snakes and Ladders can be analyzed by converting it to a Markov Chain

University of Washington data scientist Jake Vanderplas found himself trapped in an interminable series of Snakes and Ladders (AKA Chutes and Ladders) with his four-year-old and found himself thinking of how he could write a Python program to simulate and solve the game. Read the rest

"The efficiency gap": understanding the math behind a crucial Supreme Court gerrymandering case

Last October, the Supreme Court heard argument in Gill v. Whitford, a Wisconsin gerrymandering case that has far-reaching implications for the November midterms in 2018; the court is expected to rule next June. Read the rest

Watch a mathematician explore non-euclidian geometry with a VR headset

Mathematician Henry Sagerman and colleagues developed a cool way to observe non-euclidian geometry from a new vantage point: inside the geometry itself via virtual reality. Read the rest

Great video primer on the mathematics of auctions

What's the difference between a tulip auction, an English auction, a sealed bid auction, and a Vickrey second-bid auction? Preston McAfee, Chief Economist at Microsoft explains auction types.

Bonus video: America's contribution to the English auction:

The Ideal Auction (YouTube / Numberphile) Read the rest

Embrace chaos by making your own double pendulum fidget spinner

If the novelty of holding an elaborate bearing (possibly connected to some motion-sensitive LEDs) is wearing thin, have no fear: with a 3D printer and a little ingenuity, you can make your own double-pendulum fidget spinner, a chaotic system that is intensely sensitive to initial conditions, such that it becomes very hard to predict the motion of the pendulum when you set it to swinging. Read the rest

This algorithmic generative art explores the visual beauty of math

Romanian artist HyperGlu creates programs and algorithms that generate fascinating images and animations with a geometric and mathematical beauty. Read the rest

How Claude Shannon used information theory to cheat at Vegas roulette

Claude Shannon is one of the great, heroic titans of the computer science revolution, a brilliant scientist and Feynman-grade eccentric whose accomplishments fill several excellent books. Read the rest

Delightful Fibonacci sequence poem

Poet Brian Bilston wrote this delightful poem above describing, and embodying, the Fibonacci sequence in which each every number after the first two in a series is the sum of the preceding two numbers. (via @pickover) Read the rest

Trippy 3D-printed spheres that help conceptualize 4D

Henry Segerman takes a brisk stroll through the world of four-dimensional objects with some really cool 3D-printed sculptures, like this sphere that projects a square grid when lit: Read the rest

Numberphile looks at mathematics' undecidable statements

The average person probably assumes that mathematics is a complete system in which all mathematical statements can be proved or disproved. The fine folks at Numberphile are ready to disabuse folks of this notion with a nice overview of Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem. Read the rest

Stephen Wolfram's "A New Kind of Science" goes open-access

It's been 15 years since the publication of Steven Wolfram's A New Kind of Science, a mindblowing, back-breaking 1,200-page book that (sort of) says the whole universe is made up of recursive fractals, also noteworthy for the frequent repetition of the phrase "A new kind of science" in its early chapters. Read the rest

Automatically generate datasets that teach people how (not) to create statistical mirages

FJ Anscome's classic, oft-cited 1973 paper "Graphs in Statistical Analysis" showed that very different datasets could produce "the same summary statistics (mean, standard deviation, and correlation) while producing vastly different plots" -- Anscome's point being that you can miss important differences if you just look at tables of data, and these leap out when you use graphs to represent the same data. Read the rest

Mathematical conjecture generates beautiful lifelike form

The deceptively simple Collatz Conjecture is one of mathematics' most difficult puzzles. Alex Bellos shows off a cool rendering by Edmund Harris that looks like a beautiful life form from the sea. Read the rest

The mathematics of how sperm swim

A better understanding how a sperm swims its way toward an egg could help inform new treatments for male infertility. Researchers from the University of York have now come up with a mathematical formula to model how large numbers of moving sperm interact with fluid they're swimming through. From the University:

By analysing the head and tail movements of the sperm, researchers have now shown that the sperm moves the fluid in a coordinated rhythmic way, which can be captured to form a relatively simple mathematical formula. This means complex and expensive computer simulations are no longer needed to understand how the fluid moves as the sperm swim.

The research demonstrated that the sperm has to make multiple contradictory movements, such as moving backwards, in order to propel it forward towards the egg.

The whip-like tail of the sperm has a particular rhythm that pulls the head backwards and sideways to create a jerky fluid flow, countering some of the intense friction that is created due to their diminutive sizes.

“It is true when scientists say how miraculous it is that a sperm ever reaches an egg, but the human body has a very sophisticated system of making sure the right cells come together," (says University of York mathematician Hermes Gadêlha.)

“You would assume that the jerky movements of the sperm would have a very random impact on the fluid flow around it, making it even more difficult for competing sperm cells to navigate through it, but in fact you see well defined patterns forming in the fluid around the sperm.

Read the rest

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