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  • Math Trek

    Zeroing In on Catalan's Conjecture

    Fermat's last theorem is just one of many examples of innocent-looking problems that can long stymie even the most astute mathematicians. It took about 350 years to prove Fermat's scribbled conjecture, for instance.

    Now, Preda Mihailescu of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich has proved a theorem that is likely to lead to a solution of Catalan's conjecture, another...

    04/02/2003 - 12:58 Numbers
  • Math Trek

    Mathematical Art on Display

    The term "mathematical art" usually conjures up just one name–that of Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher (1898–1972). Many people are familiar with Escher's endless staircases, hyperbolic tilings, Möbius ants, intricate tessellations, and other creations. They may also be aware of the intertwining of mathematics and art during the Renaissance, with the development of perspective...

    04/02/2003 - 10:20 Numbers
  • Feature

    The Power of Partitions

    Just a year before his death in 1920 at the age of 32, mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan came upon a remarkable pattern in a special list of whole numbers.

    The list represented counts of how many ways a given whole number can be expressed as a sum of positive integers. For example, 4 can be written as 3 + 1, 2 + 2, 2 + 1 + 1, and 1 + 1 + 1 + 1. Including 4 itself but...

    12/13/2002 - 15:52 Numbers
  • Math Trek

    Math Trails in Ottawa

    Housed in a spectacular building redolent of crystals and light, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa was recently the setting for a highly unusual school event–a mathematics field trip!

    For several years, math teacher Ron Lancaster of Hamilton, Ontario, has been creating "math trails" for both students and teachers as a way to demonstrate that...

    11/06/2002 - 09:23 Numbers