DeepMind’s AI helps untangle the mathematics of knots

Source: Nature


For the first time, machine learning has spotted mathematical connections that humans had missed. Researchers at artificial-intelligence powerhouse DeepMind, based in London, teamed up with mathematicians to tackle two separate problems — one in the theory of knots and the other in the study of symmetries. In both cases, AI techniques helped the researchers discover new patterns that could then be investigated using conventional methods.

“I was very struck at just how useful the machine-learning tools could be as a guide for intuition,” says Marc Lackenby at the University of Oxford, UK, one of the mathematicians who took part in the study. “I was not expecting to have some of my preconceptions turned on their head.”

AI maths whiz creates tough new problems for humans to solve
Computer simulations and visualizations of knots and other objects have long helped mathematicians to look for patterns and develop their intuition, says Jeffrey Weeks, a mathematician based in Canton, New York, who has pioneered some of those techniques since the 1980s. But, he adds, “Getting the computer to seek out patterns takes the research process to a qualitatively different level.”