What is a margin of error? This statistical tool can help you understand vaccine trials and political polling

Whether you are predicting the outcome of an election or studying how effective a new drug is, there will always be some uncertainty. A margin of error is how statisticians measure that uncertainty.

Ofer Harel, Professor of Statistics, University of Connecticut • conversation
Jan. 6, 2021 ~5 min

Major quantum computational breakthrough is shaking up physics and maths

Nobody expected that allowing more communication would make computational problems more reliable.

Ittay Weiss, Senior Lecturer, University of Portsmouth • conversation
Aug. 14, 2020 ~8 min

Herd immunity won’t solve our COVID-19 problem

Without a vaccine, the cost of reaching herd immunity during a pandemic is counted in lives lost, and it won't quickly stop the virus's spread.

Sara Krehbiel, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, Santa Clara University • conversation
June 16, 2020 ~7 min

Coronavirus: Why the maths behind 'COVID alert levels' makes no sense

The equation 'COVID alert level = R (rate of infection) + number of infections' simply does not add up to a number between one and five.

Thomas Woolley, Lecturer in Applied Mathematics, Cardiff University • conversation
May 15, 2020 ~6 min

How much coronavirus testing is enough? States could learn from retailers as they ramp up

Testing everyone for COVID-19 isn't realistic in a country the size of the US, but there are ways to design testing systems that can catch most of the cases.

Siqian Shen, Associate Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan • conversation
April 21, 2020 ~7 min

The maths logic that could help test more people for coronavirus

Here's one way to test more people for coronavirus with fewer resources.

Usama Kadri, Senior Lecturer of Applied Mathematics, Cardiff University • conversation
April 9, 2020 ~6 min

Coronavirus is growing exponentially – here’s what that really means

The awesome power of exponential growth explained.

Christian Yates, Senior Lecturer in Mathematical Biology, University of Bath • conversation
April 3, 2020 ~7 min

Coronavirus cases are growing exponentially – here's what that means

Exponential growth, such as in a viral epidemic, starts deceptively slowly, then quickly balloons. A mathematician explains the importance of early action and the costs of delay.

Andrew D. Hwang, Associate Professor of Mathematics, College of the Holy Cross • conversation
April 2, 2020 ~5 min

Lack of testing doesn't explain why Japan has so far escaped the worst of the coronavirus

You don't have to believe the official figures to realise that the rate of spread of the virus in Japan has been slower than in other countries.

Jonathan Newton, Associate Professor of Economics, Kyoto University • conversation
March 26, 2020 ~5 min

7 lessons from 'Hidden Figures' NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson's life and career

NASA scientist Katherine Johnson was instrumental in getting people to the moon. Here are some of the lessons one mathematics professor believes she taught us all.

Della Dumbaugh, Professor of Mathematics, University of Richmond • conversation
Feb. 26, 2020 ~7 min