Category Archives: history

the shadow of the past

Scots wha hae

… wi’ Wallace bled Yesterday, the Scots voted to retain their place in the United Kingdom. Scottish history has been a bloody affair. The battle of Bannockburn took place 700 years ago, and the referendum on Scottish independence was deliberately … Continue reading

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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 …

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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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