This Week in Mathematics

For September 20th, 2020

New Stories

Thus far in September, we’ve published 17 new math essays on topics ranging from the Boyer-Moore algorithm, an introduction to mathematical induction, bipartite graphs, the Birthday Paradox, the Blood-Test Problem, primes and the powers of two, matrix multiplication and the Prisoner’s Puzzle.

In addition, check out the following stories written by new writers to CP (welcome!):

My most recent story is about Condorcet’s Jury Theorem, entitled:

An excerpt is below:

Anyone who has every played blackjack in Las Vegas knows the prediction of the theorem intuitively: If the house’s odds of winning each hand is 51%, then over time the house’s odds of winning more hands than you approaches 100%. It is the reason why betting systems such as the Martingale do not work in the long run. However, Condorcet’s theorem teaches us more than just that. Indeed, I would argue, it helps us understand why objectively worse outcomes can occur in general elections. Continue reading


A comically long “missing persons” poster for an odd perfect number that shows all the restrictions it has to satisfy.

It’s difficult to no be nostalgic about old conjectures. Especially when someone is able to make progress on them for the first time in decades. Contributing writer for Quanta Magazine, Steven Nadis last week published a story about Pace Nielsen’s progress on the odd perfect number conjecture, which simply asks:

Are there any odd perfect numbers?

The conjecture dates back to Euler in the 1700s. Nielsen, a mathematician at Brigham Young University recently made progress suggesting a new path forward in determining their existence. The story is available for free here.

Quanta Magazine is funded by the Simons Foundation. Photo: Jason Chuang.

The Feynman Essays

Finally, for those who want to dig deeper, I’d like to recommend one of our many essay collections, on Richard Feynman. It is available here. The collection features nine essays, including:

More stories are available on our Facebook, Twitter and Medium pages.

I hope everyone has a great week!



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