The weird world of one-sided objects

A Mobius strip. Credit: cosma/shutterstock.com You have most likely encountered one-sided objects hundreds of times in your daily life – like the universal symbol for recycling, found printed on the backs of aluminum cans and plastic bottles. This mathematical object is called a Mobius strip. It has fascinated environmentalists, artists, engineers, mathematicians and many others…

Sir James Mirrlees obituary

Probably the finest moment in the working life of Sir James Mirrlees came in 1968 when, he recalled, “I finally cracked the optimal tax problem … it came in a flash and was very satisfactory.” Mirrlees, who has died aged 82, arrived at his conclusions about taxation in the middle of Harold Wilson’s government, when…

Solving real-world problems

The INLA approach developed by Rue and colleagues has been used in the Malaria Atlas Project (MAP), which disseminates free, accurate, up-to-date information on malaria, aims to limit the spread of the disease. Credit: MALARIA ATLAS PROJECT Tools developed by Håvard Rue have transformed data analysis, interpretation and communication, and are applied broadly: from modeling…

Statistician examines Beatles mystery

Credit: CC0 Public Domain Mark Glickman is Fixing a Hole in Beatles lore. A senior lecturer in statistics, Glickman worked with Ryan Song, a former statistics student at Harvard, and Jason Brown, a professor at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, to tackle an enduring Beatles mystery—who wrote “In My Life”? As most Beatles fans…

Mathematicians propose first continuous self-organised criticality model

The black dot on the left figure marks an unstable vertex. After an avalanche, three neighbouring vertices become unstable and will collapse Credit: Nikita Kalinin, Higher School of Economics – Saint-Petersburg An international group of researchers (the first author is Nikita Kalinin, Higher School of Economics—Saint-Petersburg, the last author is Ernesto Lupercio, CINVESTAV, Mexico) has…