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May 2020, some additions to the software [click] for carrying out statistical inference on machine learning problems and based on the Minimum Message Length (MML) principle.


26 April 2020 was the 100th anniversary of the death of legendary Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan (22 Dec. 1887 – 26 April 1920). See for example SR@[wikip]. (The film 'The Man Who new Infinity' (2015) is based on the book (1991) of the same name by Robert Kanigel and stars Dev Patel as Ramanujan.)


The mathematician John Horton Conway (26 Dec. 1937 - 11 Apr. 2020) died of complications related to covid-19; the intelligence of the world fell significantly. Here are two obituaries: Princeton [www][14/4/2020] and the New York Times [www][15/4/2020]. Also see JHC@[wikip].


A novel coronavirus started infecting people in Wuhan, China, during December 2019 or perhaps earlier. Dr Li Wenliang warned Chinese authorities but he was detained by police in January 2020 for spreading false rumours; he died from the disease in early February. The virus was named SARS-CoV-2 due to its similarity to the SARS (2002-2004) virus SARS-CoV, and the disease was named covid-19 (the '19' for 2019). Covid-19 cases soon appeared in other countries around the world. By 26 February China had reported totals of 77,362 cases and 2618 deaths. After much foot-dragging, the WHO finally acknowledged that covid-19 was a global pandemic on 11 March. Countries had already introduced travel bans and restrictions on meetings of large, and then small, groups of people, and on the movement of people, and these became more stringent. By 13 April the USA was leading the race no-one wants to win with 493,000 confirmed cases and 19,000 deaths.

In Australia, the academic year starts in late February when large numbers of foreign students arrive, many from China. Direct arrivals from China were banned, so many spent two weeks in third countries, often in S.E. Asia, before arriving, and the start of the University semester was pushed back to accomodate this. By late March all(?) University teaching and assessment had moved online. It is expected that numbers of new overseas students will be greatly reduced, possibly to zero, for the mid-2020 intake, and that academic year 2021, and even beyond, will be greatly affected. As Glyn Davis Vice-Chancellor of Melbourne University 2005-2018 said last year, "like all mining booms it comes to an end". (All the shiny, expensive new buildings are not all that useful just now.)


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