The image of mathematics

If you’ve been following the programme for the Engage with Strathclyde week — as I’m sure you have — then you’ll be aware of the university’s Images of Research competition. The winning entries are on display this week in the Collins building, and also online. This year, for the first time, there’s a successful entry from Maths & Stats: Dr Andre Sonnet’s photo of a blackboard full of algebra.

If that sounds less than perfectly thrilling (surely not?) then you might like to ponder the following questions. What might an “image of research” in mathematics or statistics look like? Is it appropriate to try to represent mathematical work visually? Does it matter whether we can or not? (The people who run the Images of Research competition clearly reckon that it does!) And, in each of these cases, what does your answer say about what you believe that mathematics is?

Thoughts and suggestions in the comment thread, please…


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3 Responses to The image of mathematics

  1. strathmaths says:

    I’m embarrassed to say that I overlooked Dr Alex Mantzaris’s image of “Twitter activity around a conference hashtag”, which gives a valuable alternative perspective on the visual quality of mathematics! Sorry, Alex…

  2. Vincent Keenan says:

    Perhaps an image may not be the best example, but perhaps an animation of a model in action? Maybe some funding would be easier to access if there were a visual aid to help the laymen understand. It could influence how well they would trust that the method works as opposed to seeing “alphabet soup”. I figure it boils down to who the target of the research funding proposal is, if they are knowledgeable in mathematics then I guess there wouldn’t be much emphasis on this. However if they are not, perhaps some gentle visual aids could help splash the cash, so to speak. Of course this only applies to a model, if the topic were say analysis, then you might be on to plums trying to convince the laymen with a snap shot.

  3. Pingback: But is it Art? | Degree of Freedom

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