Monday, July 24, 2017

What are the algorithms that affect your life?

My colleague, Mark Wilson, brought this news article to my attention; by the ABC titled "How algorithms make important government decisions — and how that affects you"  it describes how computer programs are legally allowed to make decisions in Australia. This is part of an ongoing series, by Simon, titled "The important algorithms we know nothing about — and why we need to know more". Some people will I imagine find this troubling.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How many alien worlds exist?

Have you ever wondered if "we" are alone in the universe, and if not how many alien civilisations may be out there? Well, you'd not be alone. In fact, there's an equation, called the Drake equation, that lets us calculate how many alien civilisations there may be. The BBC has a nice interactive graphic that lets you play with the Drake equation to calculate your own figure. There's also a great TED Talk on the subject.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Exploding the myths of Ada Lovelace’s mathematics

There has been some debate for years as to exactly how "mathematical" Ada Lovelace actually was, with some believing her to be a mere amateur and others a gifted genius. Recent research by Christopher Hollings and Ursula Martin of Oxford Mathematics, and Adrian Rice, of Randolph-Macon College, Virginia, has investigated the archives of the Lovelace-Byron family, held in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. In two recently published papers in the Journal of the British Society for the History of Mathematics and  Historia Mathematica they conclude that: "Lovelace’s keen eye for detail, fascination with big questions, and flair for deep insights, which enabled her to challenge some deep assumptions in her teacher’s work. They suggest that her ambition, in time, to do significant mathematical research was entirely credible, though sadly curtailed by her ill-health and early death."