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Automatic chess-playing machines were crude and plodding, and easily beaten. Now they are unbeatable, even by a grand master thanks to clever algorithms. File photograph: Alan Betson

The impact of computing on society is ever increasing. Web-based commerce continues to grow and artificial intelligence now pervades our lives. To mak(...)

Tommy Horkan (11) from Mount Merrion, Dublin, pictured enjoying the fun at Explorium, Ireland’s first sports and science centre. Photograph: Robbie Reynolds

Children have an almost limitless capacity to absorb knowledge if it is presented in an appealing and entertaining manner. Mathematics can be daunting(...)

A Roman abacus. But what did the Romans really do for mathematics?

The ancient Romans developed many new techniques for engineering and architecture. The citizens of Rome enjoyed fountains, public baths, central heati(...)

Embrace, a sculpture where a simple closed curve separates two regions. Photograph: Prof Robert Bosch of Oberlin College, Ohio

The preoccupations of mathematicians can seem curious and strange to normal people. They sometimes expend great energy proving results that appear gla(...)

Hurricane Frances displays the Coriolis effect which has a dominant influence on the global circulation of the atmosphere and oceans.

On the rotating Earth, a moving object deviates from a straight line, being deflected to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the s(...)

Maryam Mirzakhani was awarded a Fields Medal for her mathematical research. She died from breast cancer at the age of 40 in 2017.

The influential collection of biographical essays by Eric Temple Bell, Men of Mathematics, was published in 1937. It covered the lives of about 40 mat(...)

The Greeks regarded the heavens as the epitome of perfection. All flaws and blemishes were confined to the terrestrial domain. Since the circle is per(...)

Yitang Zhang: While working for  University of New Hampshire as a lecturer, Zhang submitted an article to the Annals of Mathematics in 2013 which established the first finite bound on the least gap between consecutive primes that is attained infinitely often

Occasionally, a major mathematical discovery comes from an individual working in isolation, and this gives rise to great surprise. Such an advance was(...)

Phillips’s simulation of a developing unstable wave in the atmosphere. While  at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton he made the first computer simulation of the global climate

Today we benefit greatly from accurate weather forecasts. These are the outcome of a long struggle to advance the science of meteorology. One of the m(...)

 Joseph Fourier’s idea that the Earth’s atmosphere acts like an insulator is the first formulation of what we now call the greenhouse effect. File photograph: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier, French mathematician and physicist, was born in Auxerre, 251 years ago today. He is best known for the mathematical tech(...)

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