Millennium Prize awarded to Perelman for resolution of the Poincare conjecture

March 21, 2010

From the Clay Institute website:

March 18, 2010

The Clay Mathematics Institute (CMI) announces today that Dr. Grigoriy Perelman of St. Petersburg, Russia, is the recipient of the Millennium Prize for resolution of the Poincaré conjecture. The citation for the award reads:

The Clay Mathematics Institute hereby awards the Millennium Prize for resolution of the Poincaré conjecture to Grigoriy Perelman.

The Poincaré conjecture is one of the seven Millennium Prize Problems established by CMI in 2000. The Prizes were conceived to record some of the most difficult problems with which mathematicians were grappling at the turn of the second millennium; to elevate in the consciousness of the general public the fact that in mathematics, the frontier is still open and abounds in important unsolved problems; to emphasize the importance of working towards a solution of the deepest, most difficult problems; and to recognize achievement in mathematics of historical magnitude.

South Australian election result shows it’s not possible to draw “fair” electoral boundaries

March 21, 2010

Yesterday’s South Australian election result (also see the Tally Room and Poll Bludger) shows that it is simply not possible to draw up single-member electorate boundaries to ensure that a party preferred by most voters will win the election.

In yesterday’s election, the ALP appears to have won a majority or very close to a majority on less than 49% of the two-party preferred vote. This of course simply reflects the face that votes outside of an electorate play no part in determining who that electorate returns.

In this particular case, the result comes from small swings in marginal Labor seats and large swings in safe Labor seats. Labor’s campaigning was targeted well.

The provisions to redistribute electorates to result in “fair” overall outcomes do not work conceptually nor apparently in practise. They should be removed.

Interestingly, it seems likely that the Liberal party will have a much easier time of it at the next (2014) election. The boundaries will have to be redrawn to favour the Libs so that they would have achieved a “fair” result on the overall two-party-preferred vote. A guess is that a “fair” result would be a majority or near-majority of seats. This means that the next redistribution will have to result in the Libs notionally holding 5-8 seats extra seats. It of course makes it harder for Labor, which will have to win a notional ~5 extra seats to win the election.

Walking with monsters

March 16, 2010

I’ve just finished rewatching (via youtube) the immensely enjoyable Walking with Monsters and Walking with Beasts. Evolution has thrown up extraordinary creatures that could barely be imagined.

Thoroughly recommend them for anyone curious about natural history.