The University of Newcastle, Australia

Mathematicians forge on despite pandemic

Thursday, 28 May 2020

While disruptions caused by COVID-19 are affecting conferences worldwide, mathematicians in the Faculty of Science are embracing cutting-edge technology to ensure important progress is not stifled.

From understanding the spread of a flu to designing Gothic cathedrals, the diverse and universal nature of mathematics makes it a critical - but often underappreciated - feature of society.

“Our society could not function without mathematics,” said Professor Florian Breuer, from the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

“Yet most people are unaware of the extent to which mathematics is running behind the scenes of almost everything we do.”Mathematicians are a critical, yet underappreciated, role in society

Number theory, which considers the study of whole numbers and their properties, is one such example. Underpinning cryptography, number theory enables secure communication and authentication, without which the internet could not function.

With collaboration essential to the exploration and discovery of mathematical knowledge, Professor Breuer, on behalf of the Priority Research Centre for Computer-Assisted Research Mathematics and its Applications (CARMA), is organising a Number Theory conference, amid the disruptions caused by COVID-19.

“What makes this conference special is its format,” Professor Breuer said.

Indeed, unlike other online conferences, Professor Breuer and his team are experimenting with an immersive, virtual environment called iSee, to facilitate social interactions between participants and ensure newcomers are not daunted by having to address everyone at once.

“Mathematics underpins much of the scientific and technological progress of modernity,” said Professor Breuer.

“Facilitating collaborations between mathematicians is critically important for enabling as yet undreamed-of technologies of the future.”

Find out more and register for the Number Theory Online conference here.

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