In January, Timothy Gowers, a professor of mathematics at Cambridge and a holder of the Fields Medal, math’s highest honor, decided to see if the comment section of his blog could prove a theorem he could not.
It’s been years since we’ve been New York Times subscribers; looking at Sunday’s paper I was struck by how much math was in it. In the Year in Ideas section, besides my piece, there’s one about using random walks to identify species critical to the survival of an ecosystem, another about the differential equations governing zombie diffusion, and a third about Nate Silver’s detective work on the fishy final digits of poll results. (I blogged about DigitGate a few months back.) Elsewhere in the paper, John Allen Paulos writes about the expected value of early breast cancer screening, and the Book Review takes on Perfect Rigor, Masha Gessen’s new biography of Perelman. Personally, I think Gessen missed a huge commercial opportunity by not titling the book He’s Just Not That Into Yau.