Research Highlights

The Math of Irreversibility
August 2020A relatively new branch of mathematics, called higher category theory, seeks to address a common but perplexing phenomenon in math as well as other sciences. “We’re trying to build tools that allow us to capture irreversibility,” says Ezra Getzler of Northwestern University, one of 47 mathematicians who participated in the 2020 spring program on “Higher […]

Algebraic Computer Vision Advances the 3D Reconstruction of Curves and Surfaces from Multiple Views
May 2020Contributed by: Ricardo Fabbri Given a series of ordinary photographs of coffee mugs over a table, can you guess where the photographer was located at each shot? In other words, given m central projections of piecewise smooth curves and surfaces, what are the translations and rotations of the underlying camera? The diagram below illustrates […]

Math that feels good
April 2020Mathematics and science Braille textbooks are expensive and require an enormous effort to produce — until now. A team of researchers has developed a method for easily creating textbooks in Braille, with an initial focus on math textbooks. The new process is made possible by a new authoring system which serves as a “universal translator” […]

The Classification of Fusion Categories
April 2020Understanding and organizing the basic building blocks of mathematics and physics is one of the most natural of scientific endeavors. We do this with the elements in our periodic table, with descriptions of elementary particles, and with many mathematical structures. Perhaps the simplest example is the description of integers is products of primes. […]

Triangle Tiling Billiards and a Cat in the Rain
April 2020Contributed by Olga ParisRomaskevich Tiling billiards is a mathematical model for the movement of light in heterogeneous media made from homogeneous pieces. Objects in water, seen through a flat surface, do appear magnified when the eye is close to the surface. Anyone who has used a diving mask is aware of it. The reason […]

Establishing a Theoretical Understanding of Machine Learning
September 2019Program at IAS aims to explain the why and how of algorithms with enormous power “It’s kind of like physics in its formative stages—Newton asking what makes the apple fall down,” says Sanjeev Arora, Visiting Professor in the Institute for Advanced Study’s School of Mathematics, trying to explain the current scientific excitement about machine learning. […]

Mathematical Optimization of Systems Impacted by Rare, HighImpact Random Events
August 2019Decisionmaking in systems impacted by rare, highimpact uncertain events is important and challenging due to the potential for extreme adverse effects. Mathematical optimization is a powerful tool that can help decisionmakers design, plan, and operate complex systems, but planning for the possibility of such events introduces significant mathematical modeling and computational challenges. […]

Magnetic Bottles for Fusion Energy
July 2019A plasma is like a square dance gone awry. As the pace and intensity of the music (the temperature) increases, the partners (the atoms) separate into unattached dancers (electrons and ions) interacting throughout a riotous turbulent sea of independent participants (a plasma). The study of hot plasmas is central to the search for the limitless […]

Varieties of Varieties
July 2019Polynomials are fundamental mathematical objects. Many basic practices in our lives are expressed through polynomials, and the same is true for the laws of science. Einstein’s famous formula expresses energy, E, in terms of a polynomial of degree 1 in m – the mass – and of degree 2 in c – the speed of […]

Projective geometry of Wachspress coordinates
April 2019The barycentric coordinates of a triangle were introduced by August F. Möbius in 1827. They describe a point in a triangle relative to the three vertices of the triangle. A point in the interior of a triangle splits the triangle into three smaller triangles, as seen in the first figure. The ratios of the three […]