The University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics (DMAM), and the UJ Soweto Science Centre (SSC) hosted the International Day of Science 2022 (#IDM2022) virtual event on March 19, 2022.
In partnership with the National Institute for Theoretical and Computational Sciences (NITheCS), NRF – South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF), South African Mathematical Society (SAMS) and the Northcliff Rotary Club the event celebrated Mathematics and inspired young minds to continue to strive to take Mathematics to new heights.
The 2-hour programme consisted of presentations from various professors, quizzes for the attendees and an interview with a mathematician.
The first presentation was given by Professor Ebrahim Momoniat who elaborated on the importance of Mathematics.
“Maths helps you solve problems, it helps you quantify and interpret data, and the comprehension of texts. It teaches you to take language and convert it into Mathematics.”
He stated that Maths and Science were enabling subjects that opened doors for those who did very well at them.
“The importance of artificial intelligence (AI) computing has become a much bigger issue than it was before. By 2022, 75 million jobs will have disappeared and been replaced by 133 million new jobs. These are all based in AI, machine learning, computing, problem solving, environmental sciences. By freeing up workers, it creates the space for us to work on other things.”
The event had a segment called “Meet a Mathematician” which is part of a series on YouTube presented by the NITheCS. The video series, aimed at school and undergraduate students, is to deliver exciting and enticing content centered around mathematical research in South Africa and the world. The YouTube series initiative is led by Dr Cerene Rathilal (UJ DMAM) and all videos will be included on the NITheCS YouTube channel.
Other speakers included Faizel Mohammed from Stats SA, Dr Mamoeletsi Mosia (NRF SAASTA), and Dr Wilmari Morton (UJ).
Dr Rathilal interviewed mathematician Professor Zurab Janelidze. He encouraged students to love what they do and work with a passion. His exposure began from an early age as his father is a mathematician.
“Much more important than an educational background is passion. You can’t do hard work if you don’t love things. Education is the framework that allows you to express that passion. Education at school doesn’t define what Mathematics is. Each mathematician finds their own mathematics and the journey to find that in the framework of education is important.”
Prof Janelidze advised the attendees to find people who have similar educational interests as them and to continue pursuing their passion.
Dr Lungile Sitole, UJ SSC Director added that events like the #IDM2022 highlighted UJ’s contribution to celebrating the essential role that Mathematics plays in Science, Technology and Innovation.