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What Do Mathematicians Do Now That Machines Can 'Do (All) The Math?'

  • Fields Institute, 2nd Floor, Room 230 222 College Street Toronto, ON, M5T 3J1 Canada (map)

For thousands of years, calculation (numerical and symbolic) was the price we had to pay to do or use mathematics. But that is no longer the case. Since the late 1980s, we have had machines that can perform any step-by-step mathematical procedure. Those systems can do it with far more variables than a human ever could, they never make mistakes, and they do it in a fraction of a second. Moreover, many of those tools are easily available and free. As a result, for the last thirty years, professional mathematicians, or those who use mathematics professionally, have not performed any kind of calculation by hand (except in very special circumstances). So what exactly do the math pros do? And how do we teach the next generation to live and work in this world?

Keith Devlin.jpg

Dr. Keith Devlin is the Director of the Stanford Mathematics Outreach Project in the Graduate School of Education, co-founder and Executive Director Emeritus of the university's H-STAR institute, co-founder of the Stanford mediaX research network, and a Senior Researcher Emeritus at CSLI. He is a World Economic Forum Fellow, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. His current research is focused on the use of different media to teach and communicate mathematics to diverse audiences. In this connection, he is co-founder and President of an educational technology company, BrainQuake, that creates mathematics learning video games. He also works on the design of information systems for intelligence analysis. Other research interests include: theory of information, models of reasoning, applications of mathematical techniques in the study of communication, and mathematical cognition. He has written 33 books and over 80 published research articles and is a recipient of the Pythagoras Prize, the Peano Prize, the Carl Sagan Award, and the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics Communications Award. In 2003, he was recognized by the California State Assembly for his "innovative work and longtime service in the field of mathematics and its relation to logic and linguistics." He is ‘the Math Guy’ on National Public Radio.

Delivered in partnership with The Fields Institute.

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Earlier Event: May 11
Science Rendezvous
Later Event: May 21
Spark After Dark