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."


Graduate Student Solves Quantum Verification Problem

October 8, 2018 — Urmila Mahadev spent eight years in graduate school solving one of the most basic questions in quantum computation: How do you know whether a quantum computer has done anything quantum at all?
Quanta Magazine Link to Story

A Poet of Computation Who Uncovers Distant Truths

August 1, 2018 — The theoretical computer scientist Constantinos Daskalakis has won the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize for explicating core questions in game theory and machine learning.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story

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.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story

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

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

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

Learning Securely

November 8, 2016
Communications of the ACM Link to Story

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

Landmark Algorithm Breaks 30-Year Impasse

December 14, 2015 — A theoretical computer scientist has presented an algorithm that is being hailed as a breakthrough in mapping the obscure terrain of complexity theory, which explores how hard computational problems are to solve. Last month, László Babai, of the University of Chicago, announced that he had come up with a new algorithm for the “graph isomorphism” problem, one of the most tantalizing mysteries in computer science.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story

‘Outsiders’ Crack 50-Year-Old Math Problem

November 24, 2015 — In 2008, Daniel Spielman told his Yale University colleague Gil Kalai about a computer science problem he was working on, concerning how to “sparsify” a network so that it has fewer connections between nodes but still preserves the essential features of the original network. Network sparsification has applications in data compression and efficient computation, but Spielman’s particular problem suggested something different to Kalai.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story

In Search of Bayesian Inference

January 5, 2015 — In the early morning of June 1, 2009, Air France flight AF 447, carrying 228 passengers and crew, disappeared over a remote section of the Atlantic Ocean. French authorities organized an international search; after about six days, aircraft and ships started finding debris and bodies from the crash, but could not find the airplane itself.
Communications of the ACM Link to Story

The Illusion Machine That Teaches Us How We See

November 13, 2014 — The man sprang onstage dressed as a miner, complete with headlamp and pickaxe. After swinging the axe a few times, he proclaimed to the audience that he had discovered a “supermagnet”—a substance so strong it could attract even wood. A video screen above him appeared to prove him right: It showed wooden balls rolling up four ramps, seemingly unbound by gravity.
Nautilus Link to Story


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 was 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