These talks are here to set the record straight and illuminate the unexpected ways formulas and fractions influence everything, from love and war to origami and coral reefs.

With humor and charm, mathematician Eduardo Sáenz de Cabezón answers a question that's wracked the brains of bored students the world over: What is math for? He shows the beauty of math as the backbone of science — and shows that theorems, not diamonds, are forever. In Spanish, with English subtitles.

From rockets to stock markets, many of humanity's most thrilling creations are powered by math. So why do kids lose interest in it? Conrad Wolfram says the part of math we teach -- calculation by hand -- isn't just tedious, it's mostly irrelevant to real mathematics and the real world. He presents his radical idea: teaching kids math through com...

Today's math curriculum is teaching students to expect -- and excel at -- paint-by-numbers classwork, robbing kids of a skill more important than solving problems: formulating them. Dan Meyer shows classroom-tested math exercises that prompt students to stop and think.

Why is algebra so hard? Math teacher Emmanuel Schanzer believes the problem with math lies in what we tell students math is. Learn how Schanzer's innovative online math curriculum teaches students to solve problems through design in this upbeat talk.

These women are trailblazers inspiring a new generation of girls to follow their lead and change the ratio in STEM (science, math, engineering and tech).

During the Cold War, Soviet educators were tasked with raising citizens who could out-innovate and out-build their American counterparts. One of their primary tools for doing so? Math. Educator Masha Gershman describes how the adaptive, highly social Soviet approach to teaching math can be deployed to prep new generations for an ever-shifting fu...

Would mathematics exist if people didn't? Did we create mathematical concepts to help us understand the world around us, or is math the native language of the universe itself? Jeff Dekofsky traces some famous arguments in this ancient and hotly debated question. [Directed by The Tremendousness Collective, narrated by Addison Anderson].

Hidden truths permeate our world; they're inaccessible to our senses, but math allows us to go beyond our intuition to uncover their mysteries. In this survey of mathematical breakthroughs, Fields Medal winner Cédric Villani speaks to the thrill of discovery and details the sometimes perplexing life of a mathematician. "Beautiful mathematical ex...

Origami, which literally translates to "folding paper," is a Japanese practice dating back to at least the 17th century. In origami, a single, traditionally square sheet of paper can be transformed into almost any shape, purely by folding. The same simple concepts yield everything from a paper crane with about 20 steps, to a dragon with over 1,0...

They're millions of digits long, and it takes an army of mathematicians and machines to hunt them down -- what's not to love about monster primes? Adam Spencer, comedian and lifelong math geek, shares his passion for these odd numbers, and for the mysterious magic of math.

Robert Lang is a pioneer of the newest kind of origami -- using math and engineering principles to fold mind-blowingly intricate designs that are beautiful and, sometimes, very useful.

Margaret Wertheim leads a project to re-create the creatures of the coral reefs using a crochet technique invented by a mathematician -- celebrating the amazements of the reef, and deep-diving into the hyperbolic geometry underlying coral creation.

Mohamad Jebara loves mathematics -- but he's concerned that too many students grow up thinking that this beautiful, rewarding subject is difficult and boring. His company is experimenting with a bold idea: paying students for completing weekly math homework. He explores the ethics of this model and how it's helping students -- and why learning m...

Someone always asks the math teacher, "Am I going to use calculus in real life?" And for most of us, says Arthur Benjamin, the answer is no. He offers a bold proposal on how to make math education relevant in the digital age.

What's so special about Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man? With arms outstretched, the man fills the irreconcilable spaces of a circle and a square -- symbolizing the Renaissance-era belief in the mutable nature of humankind. James Earle explains the geometric, religious and philosophical significance of this deceptively simple drawing. [Directe...

Basketball is a fast-moving game of improvisation, contact and, ahem, spatio-temporal pattern recognition. Rajiv Maheswaran and his colleagues are analyzing the movements behind the key plays of the game, to help coaches and players combine intuition with new data. Bonus: What they're learning could help us understand how humans move everywhere.

Irina Kareva translates biology into mathematics and vice versa. She writes mathematical models that describe the dynamics of cancer, with the goal of developing new drugs that target tumors. "The power and beauty of mathematical modeling lies in the fact that it makes you formalize, in a very rigorous way, what we think we know," Kareva says. "...

In this engaging talk, high school math teacher and YouTube star Eddie Woo shares his passion for mathematics, calling it an extra sense that we can all access. Using real-world examples of geometry, he encourages everyone to seek out the patterns around them for "a whole new way to see the world."

Physicist Werner Heisenberg said, "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." As difficult as turbulence is to understand mathematically, we can use art to depict the way it looks. Natalya St. Clair illustrates how Van Gogh captured this deep m...

Jim Simons was a mathematician and cryptographer who realized: the complex math he used to break codes could help explain patterns in the world of finance. Billions later, he's working to support the next generation of math teachers and scholars. TED's Chris Anderson sits down with Simons to talk about his extraordinary life in numbers.

Scott Rickard set out to engineer the ugliest possible piece of music, devoid of repetition, using a mathematical concept known as the Costas Array. In this surprisingly entertaining talk, he shares the math behind musical beauty ... and its opposite.

At TED2010, mathematics legend Benoit Mandelbrot develops a theme he first discussed at TED in 1984 -- the extreme complexity of roughness, and the way that fractal math can find order within patterns that seem unknowably complicated.

Beset by plunging biodiversity, pathogens and skyrocketing populations, our global food supply is at risk — but solutions that rely on chemicals and GMOs come with their own problems. Laxmi Parida proposes an organic solution instead: math.

Mathematics is not about following rules, it's about playing—and exploring, fighting, looking for clues, and sometimes even breaking things, according to Dan Finkel. In this playful, inspiring talk, the founder of Math for Love offers teachers and parents alike a five-step guide to sharing the beauty and playfulness of mathematical thinking with...

Math is logical, functional and just ... awesome. Mathemagician Arthur Benjamin explores hidden properties of that weird and wonderful set of numbers, the Fibonacci series. (And reminds you that mathematics can be inspiring, too!)