Erica Klarreich

Freelance Mathematics and Science Journalist

Berkeley, California

Erica Klarreich

My work has appeared in Quanta, Nature, The Atlantic, New Scientist, Science News, Wired and many other publications, and has been reprinted in the 2010, 2011, and 2016 volumes of "The Best Writing on Mathematics."


First Big Steps Toward Proving the Unique Games Conjecture

April 25, 2018 — A paper posted online in January takes theoretical computer scientists halfway toward proving one of the biggest conjectures in their field.
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The Infinite Primes and Museum Guard Proofs, Explained

March 26, 2018 — In January, I spoke with Günter Ziegler, one of the authors of Proofs From THE BOOK, a compilation of some of the most beautiful and elegant proofs in mathematics. The collection was inspired by the legendary mathematician Paul Erdős, who envisioned an infinite book in which God had written the perfect proof for each theorem.
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In Search of God’s Perfect Proofs

March 19, 2018 — Paul Erdős, the famously eccentric, peripatetic and prolific 20th-century mathematician, was fond of the idea that God has a celestial volume containing the perfect proof of every mathematical theorem. “This one is from The Book,” he would declare when he wanted to bestow his highest praise on a beautiful proof.
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Scant Evidence of Power Laws Found in Real-World Networks

February 15, 2018 — A paper posted online last month has reignited a debate about one of the oldest, most startling claims in the modern era of network science: the proposition that most complex networks in the real world — from the World Wide Web to interacting proteins in a cell — are “scale-free.”
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A Mathematician Who Dances to the Joys and Sorrows of Discovery

November 20, 2017 — “Nadie te quita lo bailado.”(No one can take from you what you've danced.) For Federico Ardila, this Latin American expression epitomizes his approach to life and mathematics. It’s the driving force behind the parties he DJs in venues across the San Francisco Bay Area, where people dance till morning to the beats of his native Colombia. The dance floor is a place “where you have your freedom and you have your power, and nobody can take that away from you,” Ardila said.
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Moonshine Link Discovered for Pariah Symmetries

September 22, 2017 — In 1892, the mathematician Otto Hölder posed a question that would occupy the field for more than a century: Is it possible to make a periodic table of all finite symmetry? The answer, to which hundreds of mathematicians have contributed, is yes. But the taxonomy that emerged from this monumental effort has prompted both enlightenment and head scratching.
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In Game Theory, No Clear Path to Equilibrium

July 18, 2017 — In 1950, John Nash — the mathematician later featured in the book and film “A Beautiful Mind” — wrote a two-page paper that transformed the theory of economics. His crucial, yet utterly simple, idea was that any competitive game has a notion of equilibrium: a collection of strategies, one for each player, such that no player can win more by unilaterally switching to a different strategy.
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How to Quantify (and Fight) Gerrymandering

April 4, 2017 — Powerful new quantitative tools are now available to combat partisan bias in the drawing of voting districts.
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Graph Isomorphism Vanquished — Again

January 14, 2017 — It’s been a whiplash-inducing couple of weeks for theoretical computer scientists. On January 4, László Babai, a professor at the University of Chicago, sent shock waves through the community by retracting a claim which, back in November 2015, researchers had hailed as the theoretical computer science advance of the decade.
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Complexity Theory Problem Strikes Back

January 5, 2017 — The theoretical computer scientist László Babai has retracted a claim that amazed the computer science community when he made it just over a year ago. In November 2015, he announced that he had come up with a “quasi-polynomial” algorithm for graph isomorphism, one of the most famous problems in theoretical computer science.
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Learning Securely

November 8, 2016
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All Is Not Fair in Cake-Cutting and Math

October 7, 2016 — A pair of computer scientists recently settled one of the key questions in the theory of fair division: How can you allocate cake slices among a group of people in such a way that no one envies anyone else? Yet envy-freeness is just one of several competing notions of fairness. It’s all well and good to divide a cake in a way that won’t produce envy, but you might instead want to find an “efficient” allocation, one that can’t be improved for anyone without harming someone else.
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Erica Klarreich

I have been writing about mathematics and science for a popular audience for more than fifteen years. A mathematician before I became a full-time journalist, I try to convey the essence of complex mathematical ideas to non-mathematicians, and give them a sense of the beauty and depth of mathematics.

I also enjoy plunging into topics far from my mathematical roots, and have written about fields such as economics, computer science, medicine, and biology — often as these fields relate to mathematics, but often simply for their own sake.

As a freelance journalist based in Berkeley, California, I have written for many publications, including Nature, Quanta Magazine,, New Scientist, American Scientist,, Nautilus, and Science News, for which I was the mathematics correspondent for several years. I was also the Journalist in Residence at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley. My work has been reprinted in the 2010, 2011, and 2016 volumes of "The Best Writing on Mathematics."

I am a graduate of the science writing program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and I have a Ph.D. in mathematics from Stony Brook University.

For the Fall 2016 semester, I am the Journalist in Residence at the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact me at

Follow me on Twitter at @EricaKlarreich