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Erica Klarreich

Freelance Mathematics and Science Journalist

Berkeley, California

Erica Klarreich

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

klarreic@nasw.org
@EricaKlarreich

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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.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story
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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.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story
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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.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story
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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.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story
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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.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story
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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.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story
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Learning Securely

November 8, 2016
Communications of the ACM Link to Story
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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.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story
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How to Cut Cake Fairly and Finally Eat It Too

October 6, 2016 — Two young computer scientists have figured out how to fairly divide cake among any number of people, setting to rest a problem mathematicians have struggled with for decades. Their work has startled many researchers who believed that such a fair-division protocol was probably impossible. People have known at least since biblical times that there’s a way to divide such an object between two people so that neither person envies the other: one person cuts the cake into two slices that she values equally, and the other person gets to choose her favorite slice.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story
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The Oracle of Arithmetic

June 28, 2016 — In 2010, a startling rumor filtered through the number theory community and reached Jared Weinstein. Apparently, some graduate student at the University of Bonn in Germany had written a paper that redid “Harris-Taylor” — a 288-page book dedicated to a single impenetrable proof in number theory — in only 37 pages.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story
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Simple Set Game Proof Stuns Mathematicians

May 31, 2016 — In a series of papers posted online in recent weeks, mathematicians have solved a problem about the pattern-matching card game Set that predates the game itself. The solution, whose simplicity has stunned mathematicians, is already leading to advances in other combinatorics problems. Invented in 1974, Set has a simple goal: to find special triples called “sets” within a deck of 81 cards.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story
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Sphere Packing Solved in Higher Dimensions

March 30, 2016 — In a pair of papers posted online this month, a Ukrainian mathematician has solved two high-dimensional versions of the centuries-old “sphere packing” problem. In dimensions eight and 24 (the latter dimension in collaboration with other researchers), she has proved that two highly symmetrical arrangements pack spheres together in the densest possible way.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story

About

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, ScientificAmerican.com, New Scientist, American Scientist, Wired.com, 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 klarreic@nasw.org.

Follow me on Twitter at @EricaKlarreich