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Maths in the Digital Age
26 May 2018
Mathematics defines the way the world looks today

People don’t study mathematics just because it’s important. In places, mathematics monitors changes in our lives, and in others, it eclipses them — Andrey Fursenko, Aide to the President of the Russian Federation.

We live in an age of mathematics. It shapes the modern world, because the questions posed by mathematics are the ones which are relevant to society today. It poses questions such as: who will have work tomorrow, who won’t have work tomorrow, what will business look like, and so on — Artem Yamanov, Senior Vice President, Business Development Director, Tinkoff Bank.

Leadership in technology is tied to the development of mathematics

Every country that wants to play a role internationally is developing mathematics. In Russia, the emphasis on mathematics and physics was spectacular. Political powers here seemed to provide some special protection for mathematics. <...> It is very important to have a few politicians who understand mathematics, because a lot of the stakes now are based on the development of mathematical sciences. Education is a very important subject, and by understanding scientific education, having been trained as a scientist, you can help the government. There are many subjects which politics should be informed of, and where they should take into account the exact sciences. — Cedric Villani, Professor of Mathematics, University Claude Bernard Lyon 1.

Mathematics has been with us for around 3,000 years, and most advances incorporated it in some way or another. It has been largely responsible for several technological revolutions. It appears as though we are on the cusp of a major technological revolution, which will to a great extent be founded on mathematics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. I would even go as far as to say that this leap forward will not be social as such – it will be more substantive than that. — Stanislav Smirnov, Founder, Talent and Success Foundation.

A knowledge of mathematics is a competitive advantage on the labour market

Society’s attitudes towards Mathematics are shifting enormously. A mathematical education is one of the most adaptive subjects, should a person change their job — Ari Laptev, Professor, Imperial College London.

An economy based on mathematics will lead to palpable changes in the labour market

In the next 10–15 years, 40% of people will lose their job. This will include people in the middle engineering professions, because a large proportion of the work of a mid-level engineer boils down to finding analogous projects online. — Artem Yamanov, Senior Vice President, Business Development Director, Tinkoff Bank.

A limited approach to teaching mathematics

The way we teach kids is very important. Many people think that kids don’t want to study maths because they think it’s not useful. I disagree with this. — Cedric Villani, Professor of Mathematics, University Claude Bernard Lyon 1.

Teaching maths in schools the way we do, we insist on computation, and not the beauty of maths. It is like if you were teaching music by only showing children how to write parts, without them ever hearing the melody. We are teaching the technique of maths, without teaching the spirit and the beauty of maths — Cedric Villani, Professor of Mathematics, University Claude Bernard Lyon 1.

Raising the profile of mathematics in society

A mathematical culture is important for society as a whole. When we think of the economics of data, the buzzwords are ‘big data’ and ‘artificial intelligence’, and progress in either of these fields is impossible without breakthroughs and new approaches to mathematics. We need a culture of mathematics, and its profile must be raised. The more ingrained a mathematical culture is, the better our chances will be of coming out on top in this competitive environment of the 21st century. — Arutyun Avetisyan, Director, Institute for System Programming of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Changes to the way mathematics is taught

The right thing to do in schools is not to begin by writing out figures, but by showing how beautiful and important mathematics is. It is important to demonstrate how, in today’s world, much in mathematics is tied in with algorithms. The people who attain success will be those who can combine a good knowledge of mathematics <...> with strong communication skills. — Elena Bunina, General Director, Yandex Russia.

We need to pick out talented children. We need to do this, and then work with them, given that it is far from the case that every school is blessed with talented teachers — Stanislav Smirnov, Founder, Talent and Success Foundation.

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