Articles on Mathematics

What Netflix can teach us about treating cancer

Cancer researchers dream of offering personalized treatments to patients. Can they get there using the same math that drives Netflix recommendations?

Beyond instant runoff: A better way to conduct multi-candidate elections

Some American voters hope that instant runoff can make our elections better. But a mathematician has an idea for another solution.

With new technology, mathematicians turn numbers into art

It's a golden age for visualization in mathematics. How tools like 3-D printing, animation and even knitting machines are reimagining the way mathematicians study and share their work.

Paradoxes of probability and other statistical strangeness

Sometimes statistics and probability can produce unexpected or counter-intuitive results. If we're hoping to use numbers to make good decisions, we should be wary of the traps.

Momentum isn’t magic – vindicating the hot hand with the mathematics of streaks

For 30 years, sports fans have been told to forget about streaks because the 'hot hand' is a fallacy. But a reanalysis says not so fast: Statistics show players really are in the zone sometimes.

Why polls seem to struggle to get it right – on elections and everything else

Is Trump up or down? Will the public vote yes or no? Who will win the election? A mathematician's guide to understanding polls in the media.

Students enjoy science at school, but most still don’t see it as a career option

New research shows programmes to widen STEM participation in students are failing.

Whose votes count the least in the Electoral College?

The 2016 election made clear that the Electoral College does not weigh votes from all states equally. A new analysis suggests the power of your vote is closely linked to voter turnout in your state.

It's March 14, the day we irrationally celebrate the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. Here's a roundup from our archive of what we know about pi.

Maths: why many great discoveries would be impossible without it

Maths is often a quiet contributor to problems in subjects like biology.

Here’s the best way to shuffle a pack of cards – with a little help from some maths

When is a pack of cards truly random?

Errors in Centrelink’s debt recovery system were inevitable, as in all complex systems

The Centrelink debt recovery system reminds us that many data systems are prone to error, and that's built in to how they work.

Kurt Gödel: from loopholes and dictators to the incompleteness theorems

The mathematician Kurt Gödel is said to have found a way that the US constitution would allow for a dictator to take control, or so the story goes. He certainly had the mind for it.

Why UPS drivers don’t turn left and you probably shouldn’t either

Going round in circles can actually make your journey more efficient.

South Africa can’t compete globally without fixing its attitude to maths

Good quality education fuels an economy. South Africa needs to increase its supply of science and technology university graduates. But instead it's lowering the bar, especially when it comes to maths.

What would the ancient astrologers have told us about 2017?

Up until the seventeenth century, astrology was seen as a scholarly tradition, and it is credited as influencing the development of many modern day subjects.

20% maths decree sets a dangerous precedent for schooling in South Africa

Maths occupies an eminent place in global schooling assessment criteria not just because of its content, but for the skills that are taught and developed alongside it.

Pressured South African schools had no choice but to relax maths pass mark

The truth behind South Africa's decision to allow 20% as a maths pass mark in some grades is a little more complex than many have suggested.

Why it doesn’t help – and may harm – to fail pupils with poor maths marks

There's extensive research evidence to suggest that grade repetition does more harm than good.