Overwrought love letters began turning up on the notice board at the University of Manchester’s computer lab in August, 1953. Dripping with lustful vocabulary, the signatory was always the same: “M.U.C.,” for the Manchester University computer.
Godel came to be compared not only to his friend Albert Einstein but also to Franz Kafka. Such was the nature of his contribution—only a handful of theorems, but all of them monumental and fantastical.
Twelve years ago, Robert McEliece, a mathematician and engineer at Caltech, won the Claude E. Shannon Award, the highest honor in the field of information theory. During his acceptance lecture, at an international symposium in Chicago, he discussed the prize’s namesake, who died in 2001.
Earlier this spring, at a mathematical circus of a conference in the basement ballroom of Atlanta’s Ritz-Carlton, two scientists from the Dice Lab, Robert Fathauer and Henry Segerman, débuted their newest specimen, fresh from the petri dish.
On the average summer Saturday, the mathematician Neil Sloane woke up to a crisis. “There are always crises,” he said— albeit crises of the teapot tempest variety. One Saturday over breakfast, he faced an inbox message titled “edits from outer space.”
Patrick Honner, a math teacher at Brooklyn Technical High School, arrived at a recent class seemingly unprepared. This was surprising, given that, days before, he had received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.