International Day of Mathematics
Greater global awareness of mathematical sciences are vital to addressing challenges in areas such as artificial intelligence, climate change, energy and sustainable development, and to improving the quality of life in both the developed and the developing worlds. UNESCO’s 40th General Conference proclaimed 14 March of every year International Day of Mathematics in November 2019 (40C/ Resolution 30).
In many countries, 14 March (3/14) is already celebrated as Pi Day because π, one of the world’s most widely-known mathematical constants can be rounded to 3.14.
The International Day of Mathematics aims to showcase the fundamental role played by the mathematical sciences in the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in reinforcing the two UNESCO priorities: Africa and Gender Equality. The Day invites us to celebrate the joy to be found in mathematics as well as the plethora of vocations it offers to girls and boys, through festive and diverse activities taking place around the world.
What UNESCO does to Support Mathematics
UNESCO is committed on a daily basis to facilitate access to mathematics education and research in developing countries through its educational programmes, but also through its regional centres dedicated to mathematics in Hanoi (Viet Nam) and Accra (Ghana), its chairs in Benin, Nigeria and Palestine, and the programmes of the International Centre for Pure and Applied Mathematics (Nice, France) in Asia, Africa and the Americas.
Mathematics for Action: Supporting Science-Based Decision Making
UNESCO is releasing its Mathematics for Action toolkit on 14 March 2022 to mark International Mathematics Day.
Written by mathematicians and thought leaders from across the globe, it presents riveting research on the many ways in which mathematics is addressing the world’s most pressing challenges.
Mathematics for Action also deciphers the role of mathematics in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals to 2030 that were adopted by the global community in 2015. For instance, the thirteenth Sustainable Development Goal concerns climate action. The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change relies on a combination of climate models and storylines to produce scenarios of plausible alternative futures. It is these mathematical models which enable the exploration of multiple “what-if” scenarios to inform the decision-making process.
Message from the Director-General
« And because mathematics is everywhere and is critical to making informed and effective decisions, this year on this Day we are publishing Mathematics in Action– a guide to explain to decision-makers how they can use this treasure trove of human intelligence, especially to inform the future.
Modelling can indeed be particularly powerful – the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has shown this – provided that it is used, that its pitfalls and potential are understood, and that entire fields of public action are not allowed to escape democratic discussion. As humanity faces immense challenges, it is crucial that the power of mathematics be both better understood and more balanced..»
— Audrey Azoulay, Director General, Message on the occasion of the International Day of Mathematics
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Mathematics are part of the cultural heritage of humanity: they as essential to our technologies as it is a tool for development. The many activities taking place around the world in celebration of the Day are testament to the enthusiastic reception it has received.
The International Day of Mathematics is led by UNESCO's International Basic Sciences Programme (IBSP) and the International Mathematical Union, with the support of numerous international and regional organizations.
Share your experiences and join the conversation using the hashtag #MathematicsDay
Launch of Mathematics for Action: Supporting Science-Based Decision Making
14 March, 11 am-12 pm (GMT+1), Online from UNESCO Headquarters
The toolkit, entitled “Mathematics for Action: Supporting Science-Based Decision Making”, is a collection of 25 briefs covering 11 SDGs written by an international consortium of experts. The launch of this publication will be an opportunity to discuss the breadth of the applications of mathematics and its relevance for the solution of the problems facing society and our planet today.
Mathematics are everywhere in science and technology:
- The success of search engines comes from their brilliant mathematical algorithms.
- Cryptography for secure communication relies on number theory.
- Medical imaging devices like computed tomography scan (CT-scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measure numerical data and a mathematical algorithm builds an image out of them.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning are now transforming the world: for instance, computer vision, automatic translation, autonomous vehicles, etc.
- The decoding of the human genome is a triumph of mathematics, statistics, and computer science.
- Mathematics were used to create the first photo of a black hole.
Mathematics are everywhere in the organization of our societies:
- Mathematics are used to optimize transport and communication networks.
- Mathematics help understanding and controlling the spread of epidemics.
- Statistics and optimization are used in efficient planning and managing of health, economic and social systems.
- Mathematics help designing electoral system that better represent the people’s will.
- Mathematics help to understand the risks of natural hazards (floods, earthquakes, hurricanes) and to prepare in advance, thus reducing disaster risk.
Mathematics are essential to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals:
- Mathematics are a tool for development. As Nelson Mandela said in June 1990, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Mathematics are an essential part of education, which empowers people and opens new job opportunities.
- Mathematics are used to model global changes and their consequences on biodiversity.
- Optimization techniques and data analysis are needed in the move to a sustainable use of the world resources.
- Artificial intelligence is used to extract data from satellite images and draw maps of urban, industrial, agricultural and forest areas, where traditional data are missing.
- Mathematics education empowers girls and women to a better future.
- Numeracy and scientific literacy help every citizen to better understand the planetary challenges.
Mathematics are everywhere in whatever you do:
- Mathematics inspire artists and musicians: perspective symmetries, tilings, fractals, geometric curves, surfaces and shapes; patterns, scales and sounds in music.
- Mathematics are helpful in games of strategy from backgammon or chess to solving a Rubik's cube or playing Awale.
- Mathematics are useful in budgeting.
- Nearly everyone uses some mathematical concepts: the builder, the farmer, the shopkeeper, the craftsperson, the athlete, etc.,
- Mathematics are behind geolocation techniques, from navigations with the stars to GPS.
- Mathematics are behind the software of our smartphones.
- Mathematics are used to make realistic animation movies.
- Do you want to visit Mars one day? Without mathematics this would never be possible.