Episode 71

Unpacking the Sphere Packing Problem

The Fields Medal is the top prize in all of mathematics and for the second time only the International Mathematical Union awarded it to a woman. Ukrainian mathematician Maryna Viazovska received the Fields Medal for her solution to the “Sphere Packing Problem”.

What is the sphere packing problem? In two dimensions, think about arranging coins on a desk so that the space between them is as small as possible. Or in three-dimensions, stacking oranges or cannon balls. Maryna Viozovska solved it for eight dimensions.

In this episode, we chat with mathematician Marcy Robertson about why this problem is so important, even in a multi-dimensional space like eight dimensions! Plus, why it’s so important that another woman has won the Fields Medal.

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