An Abel Prize winner intimidated by math research John Tate tells the following story of how he enjoyed math when he was young, but didn’t think he could ever do research in it. In 2010 he won the Abel Prize “for his vast … 26. Sep 2014 | By John D. Cook | 0 comments

Marginal note – Two thirds of a million dollar prize? The Clay Mathematics Institute has offered a prize of $1,000,000 (USD) for a resolution to the Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer Conjecture, a conjecture about all elliptic curves. Manjul Bhargava has proved a result that shows the … 25. Sep 2014 | By John D. Cook | 0 comments

An engaging poster I’m not fond of conference posters. They’re often filled with details meaningful to the author but uninviting to an uninitiated observer. However, there was a poster at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum that drew me in. … 24. Sep 2014 | By John D. Cook | 2 comments

Cheap transistors, expensive wires Turing Award winner Ivan Sutherland says that the economics of early computer hardware continues to influence our thinking even though new economics turns the old economics upside down. Vacuum tubes, he explains, were the logic … 24. Sep 2014 | By John D. Cook | 1 comment

Studying algorithms to study problems Nevanlinna Prize winner Daniel Spielman mentioned in an interview that he wants to tell people about the following philosophical ideas. One thing I want to explain is why theoretical computer scientists look like mathematicians. And … 23. Sep 2014 | By John D. Cook | 0 comments

What is smoothed analysis? Daniel Spielman won the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize in 2010 “for smoothed analysis of Linear Programming, algorithms for graph-based codes and applications of graph theory to Numerical Computing.” In our interview I asked him to explain … 23. Sep 2014 | By John D. Cook | 1 comment

Mental cryptography and good passwords Good passwords are hard to remember. A pattern that makes a password memorable is likely to make it vulnerable to attack. If remembering one secure password is hard, remembering many such passwords is entirely impractical. … 23. Sep 2014 | By John D. Cook | 23 comments

Mathematics and Art Restoration How could a mathematician help art historians and curators study paintings? That is a question for Rujie (Rachel) Yin, one of the young researchers at the second Heidelberg Laureate Forum. X-ray photography provides a way … 22. Sep 2014 | By John D. Cook | 0 comments

A problem with heights The view from Heidelberg Castle is stunning, if you don’t have a problem with heights. This evening the HLF had a final reception at the Heidelberg Castle. I talked with one of the young … 28. Sep 2013 | By John D. Cook | 0 comments

Turing Award genealogy The Heidelberg Laureate Forum invited laureates in mathematics and computer science to participate. There have been numerous comparisons between the mathematicians and the computer scientists. For example, a much larger proportion of Turing Award winners … 27. Sep 2013 | By John D. Cook | 1 comment