This blog is about Simon, a young gifted mathematician and programmer, who had to move from Amsterdam to Antwerp to be able to study at the level that fits his talent, i.e. homeschool. Visit https://simontiger.com
Simon learned this game on Brilliant.org at https://brilliant.org/practice/winning-moves/?chapter=competitive-games (Warning: this link will only work if you have a Premium Subscription to Brilliant). Brilliant describes the game as follows: “Luk tsut K’i is a board game from China in the time of Confucius. In medieval Europe, it went by the title Three Men’s Morris. This game is very similar to tic-tac-toe; the objective is for one player to get their three pieces all on the same line. If this occurs, that player wins”.
Three boxes with fruit, all the three labels are misplaced. What is the minimum number of times one will have to sample a random piece of fruit from one of the boxes to know how to label all the three boxes correctly? From Mind Your Decisions.
Connect A and A’, B and B’, C and C’, D and D’ so that no lines intersect. (Neva added colors).
Dividing 11 coins among three people: “How many ways can you divide 11 coins to 3 people? How many ways are there if each person has to get at least 1 coin?” From Mind Your Decisions.
Solving a simple quadratic equation geometrically: the geometric interpretation of “completing the square”, a notion from deriving the quadratic formula. From Mind Your Decisions.
Which way do the arrows point? (Simon made this drawing in Microsoft Paint):
Simon has completed the course A New Kind of Science with Stephen Wolfram and the World Science Scholars program. Which doesn’t mean he is done with digging deep into Wolfram’s groundbreaking new kind of science! (As a matter of fact, he is still reading Wolfram’s 1500-page book. And as Professor Wolfram told Simon during the live session, there’s nothing in the book that no longer holds).
At the live session, a few scholars including Simon were planning to present their Wolfram Language demos, but Professor Wolfram was so inspired by his current research that he decided to share his latest discoveries instead (he is tiptoeing closer to laying the foundations of a theory that would unify all natural sciences based on his principle of computational equivalence). It was a very engaging session (even though Simon’s video camera malfunctioned, which hardly mattered).
As for Simon’s demo project, that’s a whole story. It took Simon weeks to define what he was actually going to pick as his topic and once he had picked his topic, he didn’t know where to start (because he managed to pick an NP problem). He suggested to collaborate together with another World Science Scholar, as it was that boy who initially inspired to think in the direction of the particular open math problem. The two of them had two long video chats. (It was so much fun to observe them, they both had zero interest in small talk and went straight down to the math, without even saying hi).
Unfortunately, after the original project presentation during the live session with Stephen Wolfram was cancelled, Simon’s partner never really replied to Simon’s chat messages (until weeks later). Simon did manage to get part of the demo done (porting a huge graph into the Wolfram Language, which required writing separate code in Python), but felt stuck later, after several attempts to color the graph failed. He ended up spending several days writing several more Python scripts. We have documented the process on video. The project has turned into a computational essay and it’s definitely still unfinished, but I’m not sure Simon will come back to it in the near future. He got a couple of minutes to present his findings at another live session last week (with a World Science Scholars teaching fellow Aaron Mertz and Rory Foulger, Education Outreach Coordinator at Wolfram Research), but was confused as he didn’t get any feedback about his findings and got the impression his main questions weren’t understood. He was also a bit annoyed with me yelling on the background about what he should do and say (I saw he was confused and was afraid his time would be cut short, so I wanted to make sure he would mention his main points). I’ve learned my lesson now and have decided not to interfere with his live performances anymore, not to put him under additional pressure.
Simon has also written to Professor Wolfram, currently awaiting his reply. His main questions were:
I was surprised to discover that no Heule or de Grey graphs exist (anymore?) built into the Wolfram Language. As part of my research, I’ve created a very long list of all the graphs the Wolfram Language knows about, and HeuleGraph is not in the list. I tried to pose this question during the short discussion of my project at the World Science Scholars live session this week, but didn’t get any feedback (I don’t think my question was understood). Yes, one is able to find images of Heule graphs in Wolfram notebooks, (like this one https://notebookarchive.org/heule-graph–2019-07-0z3zu9k/) and on Wolfram MathWorld (like here http://mathworld.wolfram.com/HeuleGraphs.html). But those are just pictures in archived notebooks, and even if I try to copy/paste the code into my own notebook, it doesn’t work.
My second question concerns coloring such a large graph in the Wolfram Language: do you think it could be possible? As I don’t know a built-in function to do that within the Wolfram Language (and I don’t think such a thing exists), I decided to try to color the graph in Python and then upload it into my Wolfram notebook. I created another Python script to make the graph easier to color, and yet another Python script to actually color all the vertices (using Breadth-First Search). The problem was: it didn’t color it with only 5 colors (but with 8)! I made a video about the making of the project, with me explaining why this task is hard for a computer to do, and even some computational complexity theory!
Timecodes: Converting to CSV: 0:00 Generating the Colors: 23:06 Some Math: 42:16 Part I Conclusion: 56:46
The project is attempting to visualize the Hadwiger–Nelson problem from geometric graph theory: what is the minimum number of colors required to color the plane (chromatic number of the plane) such that no two points at distance 1 from each other have the same color. It’s an unsolved problem, but we know that the answer is 5, 6 or 7. In 2018, Aubrey de Grey proved that the chromatic number of the plane is at least 5. His smallest unit-distance graph with chromatic number 5 had 1581 vertices. Several smaller graphs have been found since then, a major contribution done by Marijn Heule, who has come up with his own method of reducing the size of graphs. In 2019, Heule constructed the smallest unit-distance graph with chromatic number 5 so far, with 517 vertices. (Side-note: since I decided I’m going to use the 517 graph, I have actually found a smaller Heule graph with 508 vertices, but it was of a data format that I wasn’t able to use anyway). The goal of my project was to color such a graph in Wolfram language, to create a Wolfram Demo.
In Part 2, I tried to code yet another Python script to group the graph into smaller units to make a smaller graph, and color that one, then blow each vertex back into the unit considered.
Simon prepared this project as a community contribution for The Coding Train (Simon came up with his own way to draw the Hilbert Curve and added interactive elements to enable the user to create other colourful space-filling curves (Hilbert Curve, Z-order Curve, Peano Curve and more!). You can see Daniel Shiffman’s Hilbert Curve tutorial and coding challenge on The Coding Train’s website (including a link to Simon’s contribution) via this link: https://thecodingtrain.com/CodingInTheCabana/003-hilbert-curve.html
Simon keeps thoroughly enjoying Brilliant’s approach to intelligence and learning (even though he sometimes dislikes the way the daily challenges are formulated). His latest stats:
From the courses he has done most I conclude he’s mostly into Computer Science and real world problem solving at the moment:
Below are some screen shots of the daily challenges he was especially curious about lately and also excerpts of his taking part in Brilliant’s discussions:
I noticed it’s a cyclic quadrilateral and I know that the opposite angles of a cyclic quadrilateral have to add up to 180 degrees. At first I thought: How am I even going to go about doing it, because it’s so cryptic and so full of information. But once I solved it, it actually became quite easy to draw!
This is a model of hyperbolic space (7 triangles around a vertex). It’s an open problem of how far you can keep expanding your structure this way (possibly infinitely far, if you allow the surface to cross itself). Which is strange, because with 3, 4 or 5 triangles around a vertex you get a platonic solid, so you definitely can’t go on forever. If you put 6 triangles around a vertex, you end up tiling a plane, so you definitely can go on forever.
For 7 or more triangles, it’s this sort of saddle shape and we don’t know if we can go on forever. How far can you go even if you do it physically? Physically you’ll definitely end up not going on forever, but still interesting to see how far you can go.