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What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences 9

Dana Mackenzie
American Mathematical Society
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The Basic Library List Committee suggests that undergraduate mathematics libraries consider this book for acquisition.

[Reviewed by
Tom Schulte
, on

This publication has a friendly format familiar from magazines and elementary textbooks. The layout includes such engaging elements as pull quotes and many captioned images. Most images either colorful 3-D figures or smiling faces. The content is the mathematics and people behind several interesting events, some being historic. The articles are 12–14 pages long.

The lead for this volume in the series is a 14-page article on the successful detection of the Higgs boson. Along with the expected explanations as to how certain subatomic particles acquire mass via the Higgs field, the article highlights that the detection was done statistically, since while the evidence “could be produced by other Standard Model processes… physicists saw a greater than background frequency of this type of event, implying that in some of the cases a Higgs particle was produced.” The convincing implications of statistical reasoning are the underpinning to other stories in the volume. This includes modeling tsunamis after the Japanese tsunami of 2011, heat map approaches to predicting crime, and textual analysis that leads to word clouds and more.

Updating models for predicting the spread of epidemics by explicitly incorporating the international air traffic network and more is the subject of one fascinating article. Other articles cover a geometry based on tropical algebra (where the “Freshman’s Dream” is actually true) and advances, both robotic and theoretical, in speed-solving the basic Rubik’s cube and its variants. The topologically inclined will enjoy articles on open problems solved and conjectures proven regarding minimizing surfaces and hyperbolic manifolds.

Software engineer Tom Schulte and his Rubik’s Cube live in Waterford, Michigan.