hi all theres been a recent shock of awareness of the Royen proof of gaussian correlation inequality, pop-sci publicized by Wolchover for Quanta, a big milestone… this is a nearly ½-century-open problem!**[a]** Quanta funded by Simons institute is one of the top outlets for scientific/ mathematical writing around today. a real community resource/ treasure!

the Royen proof is not exactly my area so cant write a lot on it but do note that its a key case study in dynamics of scientific peer review, and seems like it has some parallels to the ongoing mochizuki proof analysis.**[b]** it took over ~1½ year for “community” to begin to grasp the correctness of this proof and Wolchover has a nice historical timeline for how others began to notice/ accept it, a mapping of the spread of awareness. it did not help that Royen was somewhat isolated and did not seem to personally contact any cohorts for peer review. he published openly but it got lost in the noise. it shows how community acceptance is sometimes far from a black/ white binary decision, esp for “big problems”.

is there any way to improve peer review? its definitely a bit of an achilles heel of the scientific process. my feeling is that there is no way to improve it very much except maybe to try to increase transparency somehow. its very similar to the problem of “fake news”. how do you measure quality in content? we live in the vast Information Age but as has long been noted, theres a big difference between Information and Wisdom, and in a way peer review is the major mechanism that is designed to separate/ discriminate the two.

but Review is a sort of vague concept at heart. its both singular and plural, individual/ collective. one cannot really get an idea of the significance of a paper from a single Review. its a collective process, its interconnected. its an at-times awkward comparison but legitimate: its similar to how viruses spread. top scientific papers have a “virality” aspect. its a trust network. how does trust/ reputation propagate? this is a deep question that relates also to cybercurrencies like bitcoin. it looks like trust networks will continue to be built up, but will continue to be somewhat plagued with distinctly human properties/ challenges/ problems.

elsewhere there is great positive news in math with leaders/ awards,**[c]** and continued effort on other Big Problems.**[d]**

**a. royen**

- 1. A Retiree Discovers an Elusive Math Proof—And Nobody Notices | WIRED
- 2. 67-year-old German man solves complex maths problems | Daily Mail Online
- 3. Statistician Proves Gaussian Correlation Inequality | Quanta Magazine
- 4. A Great Solution | Gödel’s Lost Letter and P=NP

**b. mochizuki**

- 1. Meeting of math minds fails to clear up ABC conjecture proof
- 2. Workshop on IUT Theory of Shinichi Mochizuki, Oxford, December 7-11 2015
- 3. Notes on the Oxford IUT workshop by Brian Conrad | mathbabe
- 4. White Smoke Over Oxford? | Not Even Wrong

**c. leaders/ awards**

- 1. Jean Bourgain Awarded Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics | Institute for Advanced Study
- 2. Andrew Wiles: what does it feel like to do maths? | plus.maths.org
- 3. Yves Meyer, Wavelet Expert, Wins Abel Prize | Quanta Magazine
- 4. Numberplay: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos – The New York Times
- 5. Sylvia Serfaty on Mathematical Truth and Frustration | Quanta Magazine
- 6. Notes on the life and work of Grothendieck/ Pragacz

**d. big problems/ (unclaimed) prizes**

- 1. Beale Conjecture 1 Million Dollar Prize – Business Insider
- 2. Fiendish, Million-Dollar Proof Continues To Elude Mathematicians
- 3. Abstractions on Nautilus: Physicists Attack Math’s $1,000,000 Question
- 4. Prime Numbers and the Riemann Hypothesis | mathbabe

**e. news**

- 1. The Math Inside the US Highway System – BetterExplained
- 2. World’s Largest Math Proof Solved. And It Takes Up 200 Terabytes
- 3. New Twin Primes found | The Aperiodical
- 4. 40-Year-Old Math Problem Solved | GT | Georgia Institute of Technology – Georgia Tech’s Research Horizons
- 5. Danica McKellar promotes her new children’s math book | Daily Mail Online
- 6. Where Beauty Meets Math: The Concinnitas Series | The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- 7. Stop telling kids you’re bad at math. You are spreading math anxiety ‘like a virus.’ – The Washington Post
- 8. A new “Mathematician’s Apology” | Low Dimensional Topology
- 9. Women in math | 3010tangents
- 10. Panel Discusses Gender Gap in Harvard Math Department | News | The Harvard Crimson
- 11. 17 eqns that chged the word / Stewart