Category Archives: history

the shadow of the past

Poe on algebraists

Michael Kinyon reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe’s comments on algebraists in his story “The Purloined Letter”. Here they are in full. “But is this really a poet?” I asked. “There are two brothers, I know; and both have attained … Continue reading

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A trip to Coimbra

The University of Coimbra is the oldest in Portugal, having been founded in 1290 (younger than Oxford, older than St Andrews), but after bouncing back and forth between Coimbra and Lisboa for a while, it finally settled in Coimbra in … Continue reading

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Pedro Nunes

Pedro Nunes was a Portuguese mathematician of the sixteenth century, perhaps the greatest mathematician of his time in Europe. Yesterday I was treated to a very informative short presentation about Nunes and his work by the historian of science Henrique … Continue reading

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Spitalfields photos

Take a look at these astonishing photographs … http://spitalfieldslife.com/2014/06/29/an-astonishing-photographic-discovery/

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Terminology: association scheme or coherent configuration?

At the Villanova conference, many of the talks were about association schemes or coherent configurations, or indeed generalisations of these. A certain tension between different uses of these terms was evident. I’d like to set down my own views here. … Continue reading

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Dima Fon-Der-Flaass

Yesterday, Edwin van Dam reminded us of a conjecture he and Willem Haemers made ten years ago: almost all graphs are determined by their spectra. This contrasts with the situation for special classes of graphs such as trees, and indeed … Continue reading

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Busy times, 6: Leuven

I have just spent two days in Leuven. This beautiful old city is primarily now a university town. The first university was founded there in 1425, about a decade after the University of St Andrews. However, unlike St Andrews, which … Continue reading

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Busy times, 3

Marking is finished – at least until Friday, when I pick up my St Andrews marking. This will be a rather different affair, just eight masters’ students instead of 300 first-year undergraduates. I can’t give a summary of how the … Continue reading

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How the light gets in, 2014

Last year, I went to the festival How the Light Gets In in Hay-on-Wye, where I took part in a couple of panel discussions. It was a lovely day out, which I described here. At this year’s festival in late … Continue reading

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Core paths

One of the glories of England and Wales for walkers is the public rights-of-way network. Buy an Ordnance Survey map, and you are free to follow any of the pink or green dotted lines. Moreover, landowners are not permitted to … Continue reading

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