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Top STEAM Moments 2019: Maths

Our team has rounded up the top Maths moments of 2019. From the first woman to win the Abel Prize to quantum computers, it's been an amazing year in Maths!

Karen Uhlenbeck - First Woman to Win Abel Prize for Mathematics

Veronika Matvejevskaja – Supply Chain Manager 

For the first time ever, in 2019, the esteemed Abel Prize was awarded to a woman: Karen Uhlenbeck, a professor at the University of Texas. This was by far my maths moment of 2019!

She is an incredible mathematician and her pioneering work in the field of geometric analysis, gauge theory and integrable systems have led to some of the most important advances in mathematics in the last 30 years. Every geometer and analyst uses her methods and tools! She has also laid down the foundation for contemporary geometric models in maths and physics. 

Her interest in gauge theory (the mathematical language of theoretical physics), is also essential for understanding models in particle physics, string theory, and general relativity. 

To see her work recognised and celebrated finally through this award is truly remarkable and deserving of a standing ovation!

karen uhlenbeck first woman to win abel prize for mathematics

Scientists Solve The Sum of Three Cubes

Wayne Bridgett – IT & Facilities Manager

This math puzzle stumped the smartest minds in the world for years! “x3+y3+z3=k”, with k being all the numbers from one to 100, is a Diophantine equation that’s sometimes known as “summing of three cubes.” The namesake of this equation comes from a 3rd-century mathematician, Diophantus of Alexandria.

The solution evaded mathematicians for 65 years since the equation was first set down at Cambridge. But this year, with the power of supercomputers, a University of Bristol mathematician – Andrew Booker – finally cracked it. Phew, what a relief!

Google Claimed Quantum Supremacy

Timothy Trestain – Head of Finance

My best maths moment of 2019 was definitely Google’s quantum computer, Sycamore, reaching quantum supremacy. The implications of this breakthrough are far-reaching not just for the scientific community but for the entire world too. 

Sycamore completed a problem considered virtually impossible for normal computers – it would take today’s computers 10,000 years to finish – in just 200 seconds. The calculation that Google chose to solve is the quantum equivalent of generating a very long list of random numbers and checking their values a million times over. 

Not particularly exciting, I know… but being able to even process this calculation in the short amount of time they did has huge implications for the processing power of a device. I’m really looking forward to seeing their next research steps in this field and what comes of it, even though we are still years away from actual, practical quantum computers.