Our founder, Justine Henning, has written an essay for Vox.com: Science is why my cancer diagnosis isn’t a death sentence. Today I march for science. The essay connects her own cancer diagnosis with the work of scientists that we feature here at Math4Science, and why she believes in the importance of science. Here are the opening paragraphs: I’ve been thinking frequently this month about Henrietta, my paternal grandmother. I try to imagine what it felt like to be an American Jew in the mid-1940s, with news coming in about what happened to one’s counterparts in Europe. Henrietta and all but… Learn more
Applied Mathematician How can a triangle help mathematicians predict how likely a driver is to choose any one of three different paths to her destination? Which kind of triangle best models that situation? And what does this have to do with computers? Read on to find out. Applied Mathematician Fern Hunt uses probability to help us better understand how computers work, how information and disease spread, and patterns in certain kinds of bacteria. The mathematical tools she applies to her work include Markov chains, vertex covers, greedoids, and other complicated ways of analyzing information. Below, you will learn about one… Learn more
Math helped Applied Mathematician Erika Camacho adjust to a new school after her family moved to the United States. Can it also help people see better and limit the recruitment efforts of terrorist groups? Camacho creates mathematical models to show scientists how the human retina — the part of the eye that contains the cells known as rods and cones — functions. Her work helps doctors improve treatments for the now-incurable disease retinitis pigmentosa. The eyes of mammals contain photoreceptor cells which absorb light and turn it into electrical signals. Our brains turn those signals into images we can make… Learn more
Data scientists teach computers to make insights about the world—some that humans can make easily, like telling your best friend’s face apart from your mother’s, and some, like whether you’re likely to get sick or make a new friend, that humans might otherwise miss. Alex Paul (Sandy) Pentland and his colleagues have taught computers to recognize faces and to predict the outcomes of face-to-face interactions, from speed-dating to business negotiations, with remarkable accuracy.
Data Scientist Can the information our computers gather about us improve our lives? In the future, will machines track our social interactions at work and at play? Will they improve our ability to make friends, find love, and succeed professionally? “For the first time, we can precisely map the behavior of large numbers of people as they go about their normal lives,” says Data Scientist Alex (Sandy) Pentland in his book: Honest Signals: How They Shape Our World. Using a “sociometer,” built with “cell phones and electronic badges with integrated sensors,” (x) Pentland and his students created a way to… Learn more
Computer scientists design and use the hardware and software of the machines we call “computers.” These machines help people collect and analyze information. Applied Mathematician Bernard Chazelle, Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University, studies natural algorithms: the recipes behind the behavior of flocking birds, cells working together to make the human heart beat, and swarms of insects.
Applied Mathematician Computer Scientist Imagine the planets and stars located throughout the universe. Each one moves according to one set of rules, studied by physicists, astronomers, and astrophysicists. Gravity, for instance, applies to objects in space in one way which changes according to laws of physics we understand. Larger bodies (like Earth’s sun) create stronger forces of gravity. The further you are from any very large objects in space, the less you pulled by gravitational force. But what if each planet “had its own rules and decided to move in a different way, depending on what the other planets do?”… Learn more
Applied mathematics involves using math to solve problems in the “real world.” An applied mathematician might answer questions raised by physicists, chemists, engineers, environmental scientists, or other people trying to understand or build things. Fern Hunt, an applied mathematician, studies “phenomena that you might observe either with numbers or in nature or in everyday life which seem unpredictable.” She asks questions about probability, dynamical systems, and chaos theory in her work at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Applied Mathematician Erika Camacho builds mathematical models that help scientists understand how our eyes work. The math she does helps them… Learn more
Applied Mathematician SWARMS OF SYNCHRONOUSLY FLASHING FIREFLIES Poetry? Well, yes, and also one of the ways Applied Mathematician Steven Strogatz describes his work. The author of Sync: How Order Emerges from Chaos in the Universe, Nature, and Daily Life and a frequent contributor to Radio Lab and The New York Times, Strogatz devotes a good deal of his time to helping people understand the beauty of mathematics. I live in the world of math applied to nature. For me, it’s a two-way street where nature is an inspiration for math problems [and math can be done] in the service of… Learn more
Machines — even computers — seem simple when compared to the complicated human brain. It might seem surprising that “machine learning” is helping scientists understand that brain. Read on to find out how. Math has taught us a lot about how to understand the physical world. But what can it teach us about our own brains, the very structures that make us who we are? That’s what Theoretical Neuroscientist Brian DePasquale is trying to find out. The human brain is made up of billions of cells called neurons, linked by trillions of connections, so it’s a daunting task to use… Learn more