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  Public Understanding of Mathematics


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The Math Forum's Internet Mathematics Library provides pages of links to Internet resources for those interested in the public's perception of mathematics and mathematicians:

  Public Understanding of Mathematics

Many people are interested in connections that can be made between mathematics and the arts, both music and visual art. See: Applications/Connections: Humanities:
Art | Literature/Poetry | Music | Philosophy | Religion

Read what others say: Articles on the Public Perception of Mathematics

Math Awareness Month is held every year to increase public awareness of mathematics.


  An Introduction to the Public Understanding of Mathematics

The mathematics profession is arguably the most misunderstood in all of academia. This is in part because there is no Nobel Prize in mathematics, although mathematicians do sneak in by making important contributions to science. Moreover, the usual public image of a mathematician has been furnished by a physicist (Einstein).

The public thinks that we contemplate ancient proofs made by persons in togas, and doesn't realize that if the stock market grew as fast as new mathematics we'd all be rich (well, we are, mathematically). The public thinks of lonely recluses in garrets and doesn't realize that for many, mathematics is an intensely social occupation, with hours spent each day talking to colleagues (mostly about mathematics, it's true), and many jaunts to meetings to talk with even more colleagues.

It's important that the public understand us and the importance of what we do in this time of shrinking academic dollars and bulging overproduction of academics. We've not done a good job of letting the world know that we teach mathematics to scientists better than scientists teach mathematics to scientists. And it's crucial that we communicate to young people both the pleasures and the stresses of being a mathematician, that we have an exciting and lively discipline and culture, and that we actively try to deal with the job crunch (which is pretty much academia-wide).

-- Gene Klotz, Co-Director, The Math Forum


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