Profiles of mathematicians

It’s a good week for articles profiling mathematicians. Siobhan Roberts has written a fascinating profile of John Horton Conway at the Guardian, based on her biography of him, Genius At Play: The Curious Mind of John Horton Conway. And Gareth Cook has written The Singular Mind of Terry Tao for the New York Times. (Is that a math pun in the title?)

The Tao profile mentions the general (oral) exams at Princeton, and apparently Princeton math PhD students have an archive of student summaries of those exams; here is Tao’s.  (At Penn we had something similar although apparently no longer maintained. Such is inevitable for student-maintained resources like this, I suppose.)

Battleship calculator

C. Liam Brown has built a Battleship probability calculator, which (roughly speaking) works by finding the square which is the most likely to yield a hit given the set of hits and misses so far. You can play against it if you want. A lot of this might be said to be a web-friendly implementation Nick Berry’s analysis of the game, although analysis and implementation are two different beasts. (Funny, that keeps coming up in my day job…)