Maryam Mirzakhani passed away this weekend at age 40.
This was hard to write. I don't know how to do justice to such an impressive mathematician and person. I know in the coming weeks and months we will see many more remembrances of Mirzakhani that will fill out and expand on the articles written immediately in the wake of her death.

Today I learned there is an "Open Problem Garden", which appears to be a mostly derelict wiki listing open problems and progress on them. I wish something like this were more user friendly and actively maintained, and I have half a mind to do it myself...

Audin's book introduced me to the Kovalevskaya top, one of the most important bits of math Kovalevskaya worked on. Now I really want there to be an amusement park ride based on it. I guess it would be hard to always get riders who added up to exactly the right weight to use it, though.

I recently read Michèle Audin's book Remembering Sofya Kovalevskaya. It was a really interesting book. Not exactly biography, not exactly memoir, not exactly math. Has anyone here read it? I'd be interested in your reactions. This is my review:

How to fold a bunny:

From Erik Demaine and Tomohiro Tachi's work showing that any 3d triangulated surface can be folded from origami; MIT press release at and SoCG 2017 paper at

The theoretical computer science (TCS) community just launched a new conference: the Symposium on Simplicity in Algorithms (SOSA)

While simplicity is always appreciated in mathematics and TCS, it's never been so explicitly encouraged. I'll be looking forward to see what simplifications come out of this.

In fact, one of the primary tools in the process being debated in this case is the use of a mathematical measure called the Efficiency Gap. More here:

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This is huge! The supreme court is going to hear a case on partisan gerrymandering, in which they may rule about what process (including what mathematical techniques) can be used in a case that a partisan gerrymander is illegal.

This is going to happen in October, just after I attend the Gerrymandering Workshop at Tufts. Exciting times!

A tweep suggests it's a cuboctahedron with diagonals drawn in on some of the squares.

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Saw this cool solid as a playground climbing structure a couple weeks ago. Does anyone know if it has a name?
I spent longer than I care to admit searching for it in the list of Johnson solids before realizing it can't be a Johnson solid because it has 6 triangles around some vertices, which would lie flat if they were equilateral.

Buckets of fish!

A cute combinatorial game that always eventually terminates, despite the players' ability to make games arbitrarily long. And despite the infinite game tree, there's a simple trick that makes its strategy easy.

Help wanted : We're looking for examples of the terms and conditions that the different Mastodon instances have used. Are they collected somewhere, or do we need to visit each instance separately and collect/collate them "by hand"?

We're looking for something close to what we want and which can then be twoke for our needs.



Just posted a tiling on Instagram for on Saturday.
I get a cube illusion when I look at this tiling. But I just realized maybe I shouldn't because this is not a look that's possible w/cubes. No face of a cube looks like a square unless you're looking at it straight on & then you don't see other sides. I guess that trip to the Picasso Museum must have worked!

I just reread this transcript of Francis Su’s retiring MAA president address from January, “Mathematics for human flourishing.” It spoke to me even more this time than the first time I read it. He keeps coming back to this Simone Weil quote: “Every being cries out silently to be read differently.” I’m going to be thinking about that for a while.

The probability that a power of 2 starts with the digit d is $log(d+1) - log(d)$.

Observe that $2^n$ has first digit d if there is some non-negative integer k such that $d10^k \leq 2^n < (d+1)10^k$.

Applying the base 10 logarithm to this inequality, we get $log(d) + k \leq nlog(2) < log(d+1) + k$.

Taking the fractional part of this inequality, we get $log(d) \leq \{nlog(2)\} < log(d+1)$.

But by Weyl's Criterion, $\{nlog(2)\}$ is equidistributed in [0,1). The result follows.

I just published my first article for Nautilus magazine. It's about near-misses, like the beautiful near-miss polyhedra Craig Kaplan makes and the near-miss that helped mathematicians discover Monstrous Moonshine. I like Kaplan's characterization of a near-miss:
An approximation is “a not-right estimate of a right answer,” Kaplan says, whereas “a near-miss is an exact representation of an almost-right answer.”


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