Articles

'Of the myriad strategems I employ to avoid useful work, the one I most enjoy is to envision how scientists of earlier eras would have made use of modern computers.' John L. Casti tells us how today's mathematicians are using computers to carry on the work of turn-of-the-century polymath d'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, who showed how mathematical functions could be applied to the shape of one organism to continuously transform it into other, physically similar organisms.
There are many errors that can occur when numbers are written, printed or transferred in any manner. Luckily, there are schemes in place to detect, and in some cases even correct, such errors almost immediately. Emily Dixon takes a break and discovers that codes are not just for sleuths.
The harmonic series is far less widely known than the arithmetic and geometric series. However, it is linked to a good deal of fascinating mathematics, some challenging Olympiad problems, several surprising applications, and even a famous unsolved problem. John Webb applies some divergent thinking, taking in the weather, traffic flow and card shuffling along the way.
One of the most striking and powerful means of presenting numbers is completely ignored in the mathematics that is taught in schools, and it rarely makes an appearance in university courses. Yet the continued fraction is one of the most revealing representations of many numbers, sometimes containing extraordinary patterns and symmetries. John D. Barrow explains.
Those who understand compound interest are destined to collect it. Those who don't are doomed to pay it - or so says a well-known source of financial advice. But what is compound interest, and why is it so important? John H. Webb explains.

Maths A-levels are "too easy"

We've all seen a traditional sundial, where a triangular wedge is used to cast a shadow onto a marked-out dial - but did you know that there is another kind? In this article, Chris Sangwin and Chris Budd tell us about a different kind of sundial, the analemmatic design, where you can use your own shadow to tell the time.
In the late 1940s, American painter Jackson Pollock dripped paint from a can on to vast canvases rolled out across the floor of his barn. Richard P. Taylor explains that Pollock's patterns are really fractals - the fingerprint of Nature.