Links for December 22

Erica Klarreich at Quanta on László Babai’s new algorithm for the graph isomorphism problem in quasi-polynomial time (that’s \exp((\log n)^{O(1)}) where n is the number of vertices, for those of you who don’t remember your complexity classes).  The actual preprint ison the arXiv.

Priceonomics on the history of the Black-Scholes formula and (unrelatedly, unless you want to make some really strained argument about the financialization of everything) the invention of auto-tune.

David Austin at the AMS Samplings column on Petals, flowers, and circle packings.

FiveThirtyEight is looking for people who can predict the Oscars.

Katie Steckles has a video on the mathematics of wrapping presents.

Donald Knuth’s 21st annual Christmas lecture is on universal commafree codes.  (Here’s a list of Knuth lectures, many available online.)  I can’t find the source for this right now, but I seem to recall that these used to be called the “Christmas tree lectures” until he ran out of tree-related topics he wanted to lecture on.

Do heads of government age more quickly? From Andrew Olenski, Matthew Abola, and Anupam Jena, at the BMJ (which used to be called the British Medical Journal), via Vox.

How Frank Wilcoxon helped statisticians walk the nonparametric path, from Mario Cortina Borja and Julian Stander at Significance.

Kevin Hartnett at QuantaHope Rekindled for ABC Proof.



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