League tables are controversial and for good reason. Few things are simple enough to be measured by a single outcome like, for example, the number of exam passes or successful heart operations. But even if we do accept a single yardstick, we haven't yet reckoned with chance, which by itself can produce apparent patterns to delight any tabloid editor.

The Plus anniversary year — A word from the editors

How does complexity arise from simplicity?
John Napier was a clever man indeed. Besides inventing the logarithm, he developed ingenious calculating devices that fully exploit the power of the positional system. In this article Chris Sangwin tells you how to make your own set of Napier's bones and perform mathemagic with an interactive checker board.
  • Plus 100 —the best maths of the last century
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Leonhard Euler, the most prolific mathematician of all time, would have celebrated his 300th birthday this year. In this article, the second in a four-part series on Euler and his work, Abigail Kirk explores one of the formulae that carry his name.
You might know the famous formula for an area of a circle, but why does this formula work? Tom Körner's explanation really is a piece of cake, served up with a hefty estimate of pi.
One of the many strange ideas from quantum mechanics is that space isn't continuous but consists of tiny chunks. Ordinary geometry is useless when it comes to dealing with such a space, but algebra makes it possible to come up with a model of spacetime that might do the trick. And it can all be tested by a satellite. Shahn Majid met up with Plus to explain.