In conversation with Bernard Silverman

It’s been said that a degree in mathematics opens many doors, but to many this might seem a slight exaggeration. Bernard Silverman, however, is an excellent example of a mathematics graduate who has indeed done it all. Silverman is currently the chief scientific advisor to the Home Office, a statistician, and an Anglican priest. These are just a few examples of his many achievements, starting from the gold medal he won at the 1970 International Mathematics Olympiad—the only person to do so from the western side of the iron curtain—at the beginning of his mathematical career. He went on to read mathematics at university, and eventually obtained a PhD in data analysis in 1977. “I was always interested in maths, but as time went on I became keen on doing it in a way that has applications in different things, and that is what drew me to statistics.” He jokingly adds that he felt he was never good enough to be a pure mathematician. In the course of our conversation with him, he took us on a journey through the diverse areas in which he has applied his statistical approach. Continue reading


Chalkdust Review of the Year 2016

Another busy year for Chalkdust is gone(well…almost). That is 50 online articles, 2 new issues, 1 advent calendar a few quizzes and loads more. In the remaining few hours of 2016 we look back to some of the amazing articles written by us and our friends. From everyone on the Chalkdust team enjoy this post and look forward to even better blogs next year.


[Pictures: 1 – adapted from – Moscow New Year 2016 by Valeri Fortuna, CC-BY 2.0;  other pictures by Chalkdust]


Which mathematician are you?

This post was part of the Chalkdust 2016 Advent Calendar.

On the thirteenth day of December, Chalkdust gave to me… a super awesome personality quiz. For those of you who have always wondered which mathematician they were in their previous life (and for those who haven’t, but should) Chalkdust has the answer. Just answer a few carefully selected questions and find out for yourself!





Cover Picture Test – adapted from – Great Mathematicians by  Andrew O’BrienCC-BY 2.0;

 Answers Pictures:
1.adapted from public domain – Cauchy;

2.adapted from – Gauss by Adrián García CandelCC-BY 2.0;

3. adapted from – alan-turing by CyberHadesCC-BY 2.0;

4.adapted from – Emmy Noether by Open Logic, Public Domain Mark 1.0;

5.adapted from – Vintage Ad #2,067: The Apple that Rocked the World by Jamie, CC-BY 2.0;

other pictures by Chalkdust]


Reinventing 2D: What a difference a matrix makes

Manhattan is a Cartesian plane brought to life. The original design plan for the streets of Manhattan, known as the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811, put in place the grid plan that defines Manhattan to this day. Using rectangular grids in urban planning is common practice but Manhattan went as far as naming its streets and avenues with numbers: 1st Street, 42nd Street, Fifth Avenue and so on.

The idea of a system of coordinates was first published in 1637 by René Descartes (hence Cartesian) and revolutionised mathematics by providing a link between geometry and algebra. According to legend, school boy René was lying in bed, sick, when he noticed a fly on the ceiling. He realised that he could describe the position of the fly using two numbers, each measuring the perpendicular distance of the fly to the walls of the room. Voilà! The Cartesian plane was born.

It is only natural then that we interpret the Cartesian plane in terms of spatial coordinates but what happens if we take the same old Cartesian plane and re-invent the 2D space as a space of functions?

Continue reading