## Open Problems That Might Be Easy

*A speculation on the length of proofs of open problems*

Broad Institute source |

Nick Patterson is one of the smartest people I have ever known.

Today I would like to talk about something he once said to me and how it relates to solving open problems.

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## How Joe Traub Beat the Street

*An insight into the computation of financial information*

Columbia memorial source |

Joseph Traub passed away just a week ago, on August 24th. He is best known for his computer science leadership positions at CMU, Columbia, CSTB, the *Journal of Complexity*—they all start with “C.” CSTB is the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. At each of these he was the head and for all except Carnegie-Mellon he was the first head—the founder.

Today Ken and I wish to highlight one technical result by Traub and his co-workers that you may not know about.

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## Cancellation is a Pain

*How to avoid the pain of estimating tough sums*

Cricketing source |

Andrew Granville is a number theorist, who has written—besides his own terrific research—some beautiful expository papers, especially on analytic number theory.

Today Ken and I wish to talk about his survey paper earlier this year on the size of gaps between consecutive primes.

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## Cryptography And Quicksand

* A basic question about cryptography that we pretend is not there. *

Victor Shoup is one of the top experts in cryptography. He is well known for many things including a soon to be released book that is joint with Dan Boneh on, what else, cryptography; and the implementation of many of the basic functions of cryptography.

Today I want to talk about my recent visit to the Simons Institute in Berkeley where I heard Victor give a special lecture.

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## Changing Definitions

* How important is “backward compatibility” in math and CS? *

David Darling source |

Henri Lebesgue came the closest of anyone we know to changing the value of a mathematical quantity. Of course he did not do this—it was not like defining π to be 3. What he did was change the accepted definition of *integral* so that the integral from to of the characteristic function of the rational numbers became a definite . It remains even when integrating over all of .

Today we talk about changing definitions in mathematics and computer programming and ask when it is important to give up continuity with past practice. Read more…

## Four Weddings And A Puzzle

* An unusual voting problem? *

“Four Weddings” is a reality based TV show that appears in America on the cable channel TLC. Yes a TV show: not a researcher, not someone who has recently solved a long-standing open problem. Just a TV show.

Today I want to discuss a curious math puzzle that underlines this show.

The show raises an interesting puzzle about voting schemes:

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## Playing Chess With the Devil

* A new kind of ‘liar’ puzzle using Freestyle chess *

By permission of Vierrae (Katerina Suvorova), source |

Raymond Smullyan is probably the world’s greatest expert on the logic of lying and the logic of chess. He is still writing books well into his 10th decade. Last year he published a new textbook, *A Beginner’s Guide to Mathematical Logic*, and in 2013 a new puzzle book named for Kurt Gödel. His 1979 book *The Chess Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes* introduced *retrograde analysis*—taking back moves from positions to tell how they could possibly have arisen—to a wide public.

Today Ken and I wish to talk about whether we can ever play perfect chess—or at least better chess than any one chess program—by combining output from multiple programs that sometimes might “lie.” Read more…