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AI is helping mathematicians build a periodic table of shapes

Atomic shapes are so simple that they can't be broken down any further. Mathematicians are trying to build a "periodic table" of these shapes, and they hope artificial intelligence can help

By Matthew Sparkes

13 October 2023

The bands of colour represent shapes of a certain dimension and form

Coates, T., Kasprzyk, A.M. & Veneziale, S. (2023)

Mathematicians attempting to build a “periodic table” of shapes have turned to artificial intelligence for help – but say they don’t understand how it works or whether it can be 100 per cent reliable.

Tom Coates at Imperial College London and his colleagues are working to classify shapes known as Fano varieties, which are so simple that they can’t be broken down into smaller components. Just as chemists arranged elements in the periodic table by their atomic weight and…

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