Are humans or computers better at mathematics?

Computer proofs

Considerable attention has been drawn to the discovery and proof of mathematical theorems by computer.

Perhaps the first major result by a computer came in 1976, with a proof of four-color theorem, namely the assertion that any map (with certain reasonable conditions) can be colored with just four distinct colors for individual states. This was first proved by computer in 1976, although flaws were later found, and a corrected proof was not completed until 1995.

In 2003, Thomas Hales of the University of Pittsburgh published a computer-based proof of Kepler’s conjecture, namely the assertion that the familiar method

Continue reading Are humans or computers better at mathematics?

Shawn Otto’s “The War on Science”

Shawn Otto has written a new book on science denialism, entitled The War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About it.

Otto argues that modern science is under attack from three directions: (a) the academic left, which has asserted that science has no claim to objective truth, (b) the religious right, which has fought evolution and more under the banner of biblical literalism, and (c) the industrial world, which has fought scientific findings in the area of health and environmental protection.

Otto observes that science denialism is rooted, surprisingly enough, in the academic left.

Continue reading Shawn Otto’s “The War on Science”

Why science needs the humanities


Foster in Contact, saying “They should have sent a poet”

Earlier this year, Kentucky governor Matt Bevin declared that state colleges and universities should educate more electrical engineers and fewer French literature majors: “All the people in the world that want to study French literature can do so, they are just not going to be subsidized by the taxpayer.”

Other politicians have sounded a similar refrain. Governor Patrick McCroy of North Carolina suggested basing funding on post-graduate employment rather than enrollment, or, as he put it rather crudely, “It’s not based on butts in seats but on how

Continue reading Why science needs the humanities

Remembrances of Jon Borwein

In the wake of Jon Borwein’s passing, I have constructed the Jonathan Borwein Memorial website.

This site features a collection of over 30 tributes to Jon’s life and work. These range from recollections of time spent visiting and working with Jon to detailed assessments of his prodigious professional output. Many of these contain touching comments of the anguish and consternation of his passing and how much we will all miss his leadership.

One described Jon as “a force of nature, uncontainable and omnipresent. His passion for knowledge was insatiable and drove him to a breadth of research that is extremely

Continue reading Remembrances of Jon Borwein

Jonathan Borwein dies at 65

It is my sad duty to report that our colleague Jonathan Borwein, Laureate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Newcastle, Australia, has passed away at the age of 65. He is survived by his wife Judith and three daughters. For details on his funeral and for making donations to a scholarship fund in his name, see the obituary below.

Jonathan M. Borwein

What can one say about Jon’s professional accomplishments? Adjectives such as “profound,” “vast” and “far-ranging” don’t really do justice to his work, the sheer volume of which is astounding: 388 published journal articles, plus another 103

Continue reading Jonathan Borwein dies at 65

Welcome to the Math Scholar blog

Readers are welcome to the Math Scholar blog.

For over 7 years, mathematicians David H. Bailey and Jonathan M. Borwein have published essays, new items, quotations and book reviews (236 posts in total). Our posts have included:

Notices of new mathematical discoveries: see Sphere packing problem solved in 8 and 24 dimensions and Unexpected pattern found in prime number digits. Descriptions of new developments in the larger arena of modern science: see Space exploration: The future is now and Gravitational waves detected, as predicted by Einstein’s mathematics. Discussions of scientific controversies: see How likely is it that scientists are engaged

Continue reading Welcome to the Math Scholar blog