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Mathematics: It’s About the Future

January 4, 2015

How some predictions fared in 2020 and other years

Zimbio source

Simon Donaldson, Maxim Kontsevich, Terence Tao, Richard Taylor, and Jacob Lurie (photo order) won the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. This did not happen since Thursday; it happened last June. When Tao was asked to explain the 2015 prize date at the start of his 11/12/14 appearance on The Colbert Report, he said,

“It’s about the future.”

Today Dick and I salute the prize-winners, and preview a new book about advances that were made in the years 2015–2019.
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The New Chess World Champion

December 28, 2014

Available for $59.96, or—for free?

chessprogramming wiki source

Larry Kaufman is a Grandmaster of chess, and has teamed in the development of two champion computer chess programs, Rybka and Komodo. I have known him from chess tournaments since the 1970s. He earned the title of International Master (IM) from the World Chess Federation in 1980, a year before I did. He earned his GM title in 2008 by dint of winning the World Senior Chess Championship, equal with GM Mihai Suba.

Today we salute Komodo for winning the 7th Thoresen Chess Engines Competition (TCEC), which some regard as the de-facto world computer chess championship.
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Modulating the Permanent

December 21, 2014

When does it become hard to compute?


Thomas Muir coined the term “permanent” as a noun in his treatise on determinants in 1882. He took it from Augustin Cauchy’s distinction in 1815 between symmetric functions that alternate when rows of a matrix are interchanged versus ones that “stay permanent.” To emphasize that all terms of the permanent have positive sign, he modified the contemporary notation {\left| A \right|} for the determinant of a matrix {A} into

\displaystyle  \overset{+}{|} A \overset{+}{|}

for the permanent. Perhaps we should be glad that this notation did not become permanent.

Today Ken and I wish to highlight some interesting results on computing the permanent modulo some integer value.
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Prover’s Block

December 16, 2014

What to do when afraid to see if what you want is true

Cropped from Canadian Bergler Society source

Edmund Bergler coined the term in 1947, the great writers Francis Fitzgerald—F. Scott to most—and Joseph Conrad among many others suffered from it, as did the great cartoonist Charles Schulz. The problem is writer’s block.

Today Ken and I want to write about something that I wonder if any of you have ever had.
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December 13, 2014

Error correction for chatting


Bernhard Haeupler is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science at CMU. He previously spent a year as a postdoc at Microsoft Research, Silicon Valley, and a year visiting Bob Tarjan at Princeton. He is currently hard at work on the Program Committee of STOC 2015.

Today we wish to talk about the problem of error correction for chatting.
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Quantum Algorithms Via Linear Algebra

December 6, 2014

Announcing publication of our textbook with MIT Press

By permission of Nataly Meerson, artist : source

Richard Feynman had a knack for new ways of seeing. His Feynman diagrams not only enabled visualizing subatomic processes, they also rigorously encapsulated an alternative formalism that cross-validated the equations and procedures of quantum field theory. His 1948 path-integral formulation sprang out of work by Paul Dirac that re-interpreted a continuous Lagrangian operator as a matrix multiplication. Fast forward to his 1985 article “Quantum Mechanical Computers” (a followup to his 1981/82 keynote speech “Simulating Physics With Computers”) and there are only matrices and circuit diagrams to be seen.

Today, December 5 as Dick and I write, is the US publication day of our textbook with MIT Press, titled Quantum Algorithms Via Linear Algebra: A Primer. It is also available from Amazon. Both places offer it for less than two adult IMAX tickets to see “Interstellar.” Publication abroad is on 1/1/15.
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Susan Horwitz 1955–2014

December 2, 2014

Susan and a paradigm shift in software engineering


Susan Horwitz was—it is hard to type “was”—a computer scientist who did important work in the area of software engineering. She passed away this summer on June 11th.

Today Ken and I wish to talk about Susan’s work.
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