Articles about mathematics

P≠NP proof fails, Bonn boffin admits

Computer science boffin Norbert Blum has acknowledged that his P≠NP proof is incorrect, as a number of experts anticipated. In a post published Wednesday to the arXiv.org page where his paper used to be, Blum, a computer science professor at the University of Bonn, said: "The proof is wrong. I shall elaborate precisely what …
Thomas Claburn, 31 Aug 2017
greek vs. babylonian triangles

Forget trigonometry, 'cos Babylonians did it better 3,700 years ago – by counting in base 60!

Those of you who can remember trigonometry can feel free to forget it, because ancient Babylonian mathematicians had a better way of doing it – using base 60! That's the conclusion of a new paper, Plimpton 322 is Babylonian exact sexagesimal trigonometry, in the new issue of the journal Historia Mathematica. The “Plimpton 322 …
Simon Sharwood, 25 Aug 2017
Jimmy Carr

8 out of 10 cats fear statistics – AI doesn't have this problem

If statistics were a human being, it would have been in deep therapy all of its 350-year life. The sessions might go like this: Statistics: "Everyone hates me." Pause. Therapist: "I'm sure it's not everyone..." Statistics: "And they misunderstand me." Pause. Therapist: "Sorry, I didn't quite get what you meant there..." …
Mark Whitehorn, 24 May 2017
Mats Jarlstrom, pointing to a traffic light camera

'I feel violated': Engineer who pointed out traffic signals flaw fined for 'unlicensed engineering'

Interview Last year, Mats Järlström was fined $500 for revealing troubling flaws in the mathematical formula used to govern the timing of US traffic lights. Järlström, a Swedish electronics engineer who has lived in America for more than two decades, realized there was a design fault in traffic systems after his wife got a ticket from …
Thomas Claburn, 29 Apr 2017

Dr Hannah Fry: We need to be wary of algorithms behind closed doors

Interview Sure, algorithms are insanely useful, but we need to watch we don't become complacent and unable to question them, University College London's Dr Hannah Fry warned in an interview with The Register. Dr Fry is a lecturer in the mathematics of cities at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL, where her research " …
Robot numbers photo via Shutterstock

Hard numbers: The mathematical architectures of Artificial Intelligence

Pity the 34 staff of Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance in Japan, diligently calculating insurance payouts and brutally replaced by an AI system. If you believe the reports from January, the AI revolution is here. In my opinion, the goings-on in Japan cannot possibly qualify as AI, but, in order to explain why, I have to explain …
A man holding a mug of coffee

Northumbria Uni fined £400K after boffin's bad math gives students a near-killer caffeine high

Northumbria University in England has been fined £400,000 ($503,000) after a botched experiment resulted in two students almost dying from caffeine overdose. Newcastle Crown Court issued the fine on Wednesday after hearing the case of two 20-year-old students who, as part of a study on the effects of the stimulant, were …
Shaun Nichols, 26 Jan 2017
Two beer glasses clash and splash frothy beer into the air. Cheers! Photo by Shutterstock

A bigger splash: The mathematics of spilling beer

A team of researchers has ventured deep into the physics of spilling to uncover why pints of beer splash everywhere but liquid in straws do not when positioned horizontally. The relationship between the possibility of spillage and a tube was thought to be based on the size of the tube’s opening. A paper published on the …
Katyanna Quach, 25 Oct 2016
Super Mario Bros

Take that, Mom! Turns out Super Mario Bros was all about solving complex math problems

Completing a game of Super Mario Brothers is the mathematic equivalent of solving complex mathematical calculations, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The prestigious tech university said in a recent study [PDF] that navigating the world's most famous plumber through a single level can require the same …
Shaun Nichols, 1 Jun 2016

Ding Dong, ALIENS CALLING

Sorry, sci-fi fans: pretty much anyone who's imagined what a near-light-speed spacecraft would look like has got it wrong, because they've forgotten its interaction with photons. Not only that, but according to a couple of scientists working for Raytheon, it doesn't matter whether Einstein's proposition that you'll never …

About to make a big bet? Don't crash out, cash in with the power of maths

Big Data's Big 5 When and how to make change to a successful business or popular website can be a huge risk. Get things right and - at best - nobody notices. Get things wrong, however, and you run the risk of losing business and suffering a damaged reputation. A good recent example is that of film and TV service Netflix, whose fluffed …
Mark Whitehorn, 29 May 2014
Bart Simpson

What can The Simpsons teach us about stats algorithms? Glad you asked...

Big Data's Big 5 When his class is asked to give an example of a paradox in The Simpsons, Bart offers: "You're damned if ya' do, and you're damned if ya' don't." The dictionary defines a paradox as an absurd or seemingly absurd or contradictory statement that might prove to be true and when it comes to data a seemingly contradictory situation …
Mark Whitehorn, 28 May 2014

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Friday is Pi Day

At 1:59 in the morning on Friday, March 14 – or, for convenience, at 1:59 in the afternoon – take a moment to pause and contemplate π (aka pi), as, if you write your date US style, that's the moment to celebrate the universal glory that is Pi Day. Yes, one more year has come and and gone, and it's again time to continue a …
Rik Myslewski, 14 Mar 2014

Mathematicians spark debate with 13 GB proof for Erdős problem

When Pierre de Fermat famously complained that he didn't have space to write the proof of his famous “Fermat's Last Theorem”, he only ran out of space of the margin of a book. Now, a pair of mathematicians at the University of Liverpool in the UK have produced a 13GB proof that's sparked a debate about how to test it. The …
The Register breaking news

Slime mould mashup models fiendish computing problem

A pair of English researchers have offered up a “virtual slime mould” as a technique for one of mathematics' – and computer science's – classic problems, the travelling salesman problem. In the travelling salesman problem, the challenge is to find the shortest possible route that includes a given set of locations or cities: as …
The Register breaking news

Your brain, the Internet and the Universe

Correlation does not imply causation. However, some correlations are at least fascinating, and here’s one that’s getting a lot of attention: the apparent structural similarity between the growth of the universe, that of the human brain, and complex artificial networks like the Internet or Twitter. In fact, according to the …
The Register breaking news

Brain boffins: 'Yes, math CAN make your head hurt – LITERALLY'

When someone says that math makes their head hurt, they may not be speaking metaphorically. A new study has shown that math anxiety can cause actual, physical pain. "We show that, when anticipating an upcoming math-task," the researchers explain, "the higher one's math anxiety, the more one increases activity in regions …
Rik Myslewski, 2 Nov 2012
Artist's impression of a lightning storm on Venus. Credit: ESA

Australian boffins have a ball with lightning maths

Scientists at Australia’s CSIRO have put forward a mathematical model which they believe could help explain the origin of ball lightning. While people have observed ball lightning for centuries – at least – explaining it has been so troublesome that it’s attracted a variety of strange hypotheses – all the way to microwave …

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