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Solving everything
Solving everything
Yann Verdo

PARIS — Find the distribution of random paths on a directed graph. Of course, when you say it like that, such a problem will hardly excite the masses. But if you had managed to find this mysterious distribution, you would have obtained the PageRank algorithm. And if you have PageRank, you have Google, now the world's most valuable company, ahead of Apple.

What still was, 20 years ago, an obscure startup founded by two young Stanford students has become the undisputed symbol of the leading role played by mathematics in the modern economy in general, and in the digital economy in particular. "Digital has multiplied by 10, by 100, the impact power of mathematics," says Cédric Villani, director of the Henri Poincaré mathematics research Institute, and winner of the 2010 Fields medal, the highest honor in the field.

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Mariateresa Fichele

Fifteen years ago, Francesco kept busy by scamming people. He was a regular visitor to the beaches of Terracina, south of Rome, where he was caught several times selling counterfeit Ray-Ban sunglasses. Then came the drugs, which fed a serious substance-induced psychosis and eventually he tested positive for HIV.

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