Algorithms increasingly pervade every aspect of daily life. The importance of this societal development is widely acknowledged, but how much does the public understand about the underlying science? This panel discussion brings together a theoretical computer scientist with science communicators specializing in math and computer science, to explore the question of how to communicate algorithmic science to a broad audience.

Alex Bellos is a British popular-science writer whose books have sold more than a million copies and been translated into more than 20 languages. He is the puzzle columnist for The Guardian, as well as one of the main presenters of the YouTube channel Numberphile, and has presented science documentaries for BBC Radio. He is currently writing a book about theoretical computer science for the general reader, which will be published by Knopf in the United States.

Ananyo Bhattacharya is chief science writer at the London Institute for Mathematical Sciences. During a 15-year career in journalism, he has worked as a senior editor at NatureChemistry World, and Research Fortnight, and as a community editor and science correspondent for The Economist. He is the author of The Man from the Future, an intellectual biography of John von Neumann.

Ben Brubaker is a New York City–based science journalist who covers theoretical computer science for Quanta Magazine. Before joining Quanta as a staff writer, he covered physics as a freelancer for publications including Scientific American and Physics Today. He holds a PhD in physics from Yale and conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Colorado, Boulder. 

Sampath Kannan is the Henry Salvatori Professor in the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests are in the areas of algorithmic fairness, combinatorial algorithms, program reliability, streaming computation, and computational biology. He is a fellow of the ACM, and the recipient of the ACM SIGACT Distinguished Service Award. He is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Theoretically Speaking is a lecture series highlighting exciting advances in theoretical computer science for a broad general audience. Events are free and open to the public, with first-come, first-served seating. No special background is assumed. Registration is required. This lecture will be viewable thereafter on this page and on our YouTube channel, following captioning.

Light refreshments will be provided before the talk, starting at 5:15 p.m.

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Registration is required to attend this event in person or for early access to the recording. Please note that this event will not be livestreamed. Seating is first come, first served.

If you require special accommodation, please contact our access coordinator at simonsevents [at] with as much advance notice as possible.