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A new aspect of mathematics

This is a guest post written by David Nkansah, a mathematics student at the University of Glasgow.

Around the fourth century BC, the term ‘Mathematics’ was defined by Aristotle as the “science of quantity”. It’s my own experience as a young mathematician to say this definition, although correct in its own right, poses a problem for those who do not truly know what mathematics is. It fails to highlight the true creativity of the subject.

Human inspiration and imagination are essential ingredients in mathematics. Regarding creativity, one could say, with merit, that in a sense mathematics is an art. Before proceeding to outline similarities between sketching mathematical proofs and painting on a canvas, it is important to know what fundamental premises mathematical proofs are built on.

Holo-Math sounds pretty wild

Any project which manages to make Cédric Villani look even more like a time traveller gets my immediate attention. Look!

HOLO-MATH’s website is short on firm details, but it seems to be something to do with using Microsoft’s HoloLens VR goggle thingies to make interactive VR maths “experiences”. Here’s the blurb:

HOLO-MATH is an international project to produce immersive live experiences in mathematical sciences using the latest mixed reality technology.

It’s the first project to use state of the art technology for scientific knowledge transfer in a museum environment and on a large scale.

The experiences are presented in science museums/centers and at special events. They are targeted at groups of 20 participants led by human guides and virtual avatars. New forms of augmented visualization and interaction are core features. The audio-visual experience is of the highest quality.

In different HOLO-MATH experiences, participants will be able to play, discover, experiment and learn about science history and current research.

There’s more information on holo-math.org, and some pictures of be-goggled guests at the project’s launch on the hashtag #holomath.

Save the Further Maths Support Programme

Calculator and A-level maths question

The Further Maths Support Programme is an organisation in the UK that supports students wishing to take an A-level in Further Maths. Since this isn’t offered in all schools and colleges, the Programme helps organise tuition for people who can’t do it through their school, but also encourages students at younger ages to consider taking the A-level through workshops and university visit days. They also run excellent training courses for teachers, and have a number of resources on their website for students and teachers, including problem solving materials, videos, podcasts and maths competitions.

According to a recent blog post by maths teacher Jo Morgan, a government review has made the FMSP’s future precarious. Their funding through the Department for Education will be removed next April, and they’ll be replaced by the “Level 3 Maths Support Programme”. The L3MSP will support Core Maths as well as A level mathematics and further mathematics, but will focus on only certain geographical areas, meaning many will lose access to the resources currently provided.

Two of the programmes previously supported by the same funding have already had their funding stopped – the Core Maths Support Programme, and Underground Maths – but the FMSP hasn’t finished yet, and Jo hopes that by contacting the DfE we could convince the government to continue funding it. As they point out in the blog post, the FMSP has made a huge difference to the numbers of students taking maths and has had a direct impact in classrooms supporting teachers all over the UK.

So what do we do? Start a petition? Tweet the DfE to tell them? Over to you, readers.

More information

Save the FMSP! on Resourceaholic

The Sound of Proof

The Sound of Proof screenshot

Marcus du Sautoy has tweeted about a mathematics and music project he’s involved in, called The Sound of Proof. Five classical proofs from Euclid’s Elements have been interpreted by composer Jamie Perera into musical pieces, and they’ve put together an app/game to see if you can work out which one corresponds to which.

They’ll be announcing the results at an event as part of Manchester Science Festival in October. The project is a collaboration with PRiSM, the research arm of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

The Sound of Proof, at RNCM PRiSM