Hannah Fry: Is life really that complex?

Hannah Fry

Hannah Fry (from http://hannahfry.co.uk/2012/07/09/tedxucl/)

Mathematics talks at TED are rather rare so I was keen to link a recent talk from TEDxUCl by Hannah Fry which was about the applications of mathematics to complex problems such as human behaviour. After watching it I hummed and hawed. On the one hand this is a very well presented and explained talk (and this is even more impressive as the speaker is a fairly newly-minted PhD). On the other hand, it doesn’t feature much maths and crucially, for me at least, I wasn’t sure that anything has been proved. It wasn’t clear to me that any models have been developed. The wording at the end is fairly vague. Saying “Once we have done this…” leaves open the possibility that it has not been done yet. She also says “we can almost begin to talk about…” which is again too vague.

Anyhow, in the end I decided to link to it. It’s only 10 minutes long and does give you some idea where things are headed. The end of the talk is mostly about predicting crime, something I looked into a few years ago when a local policeman contacted the School of Maths for help after watching the TV programme Numbers about a crime fighting mathematician. Unfortunately I was unable to help him with his enquiries as at the time the mathematical models for crime prevention and detection were very poor. The current video sort of claims they have been improved. I think…

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