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IMA 50th Anniversary events


The IMA turns 50 this year, and is holding two celebration events and publishing a book.

50 Visions of Mathematics – book out now


The long-awaited IMA book, 50 Visions of Mathematics, is now out. According to the Oxford University Press website,

The book is a collection of 50 original essays contributed by a wide variety of authors. It contains articles by some of the best expositors of the subject (du Sautoy, Singh and Stewart for example) together with entertaining biographical pieces and articles of relevance to our everyday lives (such as Spiegelhalter on risk and Elwes on medical imaging). The topics covered are deliberately diverse and involve concepts from simple numerology to the very cutting edge of mathematics research. Each article is designed to be read in one sitting and to be accessible to a general audience. 

Alex Bellos has written a piece for his blog on the Guardian website, in which he showcases some of the beautiful images from the book.

A model of the Julia set in gold-plated brass. Photograph: Rob Hocking

IMA@50 Celebration at the Royal Society

The first celebration event was at the Royal Society in London last month. The well-attended day of talks included Alain Goriely entertainingly applying maths to magnet toys, IMA President Dame Celia Hoyles on 50 years of maths education, Iain Gray of the Technology Strategy Board on maths in industry and IMA past-President John McWhirter on 50 years of the Institute (some early history here).

Celia Hoyles pointed out a connection from maths education with IMA past-President (( No, really. 1976-77. He even chaired a Council meeting at Buckingham Palace; there’s a photo in the May 1976 issue of the IMA Bulletin. )) HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose daughter HRH Princess Anne is serving as IMA Patron in its anniversary year. At the second International Congress on Mathematical Education, held in Exeter in 1972, the programme contained a message from Prince Philip, which Celia showed and from which the following is quoted.

Those fortunate beings who find mathematics a joy and a fascination will probably get on, whatever the standard of teaching. It requires real genius to light a flicker of understanding in the minds of those to whom mathematics is a clouded mystery. The subject is so vitally important for everyone in this technological age that any advance in the techniques of teaching is to be welcomed.

Also at the IMA@50 celebration event, Clifford Cocks was awarded the IMA Gold Medal “for his lifetime contribution to Mathematics”, and gave a lecture about cryptography. Then, in the presence of honoured guest IMA Patron HRH Princess Anne, Ian Stewart gave an entertaining talk ‘Mathematics for the Billion’, with title inspired by the classic book ‘Mathematics for the Million‘, about bringing mathematics to a wider audience. Finally, Princess Anne gave a short speech, widely regarded as the most amusing of the event — a fact duly noted by Matt Parker in his after-nibbles mathematical comedy set. Photos from the event are available on the IMA Flickr page, including the chance to see Aperiodical editor Peter Rowlett not meeting Princess Anne (below).

Photo by the IMA

The Festival of Mathematics and its Applications

For those who happen to not live in London, there will also be another IMA event later in the year, in the mathematics department at the University of Manchester on 3-4 July. The Festival of Maths and its Applications will be

the first hands-on festival devoted to mathematics […] The festival will comprise interactive exhibitions (from schools, industry, universities and learned societies), popular and academic talks, maths busking, debates, competitions and discussions, all with a theme of the fun, excitement and amazing impact of mathematics on our world both now and in the future.

As well as popular exhibitions, talks and hands-on maths displays aimed at younger people, there’ll be a series of discussion sessions on various topics — ‘the Challenges for Mathematics’ for those with a more serious face. At least two-thirds of the Aperiodical editorial team and all of the authors of this post will be there, and basically all of the UK’s finest maths communication organisations will be represented. For more information, see the links below or follow the @IMAFest on Twitter.

More information

The Beauty of Mathematics in Pictures at The Guardian.

50 Visions of Mathematics at the Oxford University Press website.

50 Visions of Mathematics on Amazon, mysteriously credited to Dara O Briain who merely wrote the foreword.

IMA@50 events list on the IMA website.

@IMAFest, the Festival of Maths and its Applications on Twitter

50 Visions of Mathematics – celebrating 50 years of the IMA, an article about the book and the Royal Society event, at Plus magazine.

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