News from the world of Maths

April 8, 2010

One advantage of the UK voting system is that nobody could possibly fail to understand how it works. However, the disadvantages are well-known. Differently sized constituencies mean that the party in government doesn't necessarily have the largest share of the vote. The first-past-the-post system turns the election into a two-horse race, which leaves swathes of the population un-represented, forces tactical voting, and turns election campaigns into mud-slinging contests.

There are many alternative voting systems, but is there a perfect one? The answer, in a mathematical sense, is no.

March 31, 2010

Lack of statistical detail leads to wrong conclusions

March 24, 2010
A Galileo of number theory
March 16, 2010
The state of the Arctic
March 3, 2010

How do you judge the risks and benefits of new medical treatments, or of lifestyle choices? With a finite health care budget, how do you decide which treatments should be made freely available on the NHS? Historically, decisions like these have been made on the basis of doctors' individual experiences with how these treatments perform, but over recent decades the approach to answering thesequestions has become increasingly rational. Statistics and maths are used not just to test new treatments, but also to measure such fuzzy terms as quality of life, and to figure out which treatments provide most "health for money".