Mathematics for a Better World, UNESCO marks International Day of Mathematics

14 March, proclaimed by UNESCO as International Day of Mathematics (IDM), will be held under the theme “Mathematics for a Better World“. Celebrating the beauty and relevance of mathematics, the Day highlights the essential role played by this discipline in reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Organized by the International Mathematics Union, IDM will feature a mixture of virtual and face-to-face celebrations, notably in classrooms. Celebrations are scheduled in more than 70 countries with over 410 individual events.

Mathematics, with its many technical applications, now underpins all areas of our lives. Together with algorithms, mathematics plays a key role in artificial intelligence and technological disruptions – and, as we address global issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, we are reminded of the importance of mathematics in responding to the challenges of our time.

Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General

The new feature of IDM 2021 is the Poster Challenge to which more than 2,100 schools and organizations responded, producing their own IDM poster to illustrate one facet of the theme of “Mathematics for a Better World”. The posters will be made available to all under an open licence.

IDM 2021 is celebrated on all continents. From Madagascar to Gambia, from Panama to Chile, from Albania to Malaysia, from Bangladesh to Australia, people all over the world are organizing festivities. An international live celebration in English, French and Spanish will take place on 14 March, 2 to 6pm, UTC. Also, 48 hours of live coverage on the IDM website will start at 00:00 New Zealand time and end at 24:00 Pacific time. The international celebration is complemented by national and local competitions, conferences, exhibitions, and talks, organized by mathematical societies, research institutes, museums, schools, universities, etc.

In Algeria, many events will take place all over the country to show how mathematics helps improve our world. They consist in the organization of webinars, national mathematics competitions, recreational mathematics, and classroom activities.

A special event involving blind pupils shows that mathematics is a universal language. Celebrations are in partnership with the public television El Maarifa channel (TV7) which will report on the different events to promote them to the wider population.

Djamel Eddine Cheriet, Vice-President of the Algerian Mathematical Society

In a joint project with the Simons Foundation, the mathematical societies of Algeria, Senegal, and the Republic of Congo will organize online and on site activities on mathematics and artificial intelligence, as well as mathematical games, for a large audience in French, Arabic, and English. They will also offer special training programmes for teachers and educators in Africa and the Arab region.

The IDM is an opportunity to share the knowledge that men and women have developed throughout history. It is also a space to create, share, motivate and inspire future generations with mathematics. It is a day to remember that mathematics empowers us, sets us free, and makes us better citizens.

Laura Vanessa Gomez Bermeo (Colombia)

Through the gloom of the pandemic, IDM is an opportunity for exciting and challenging activities in schools. Students can explore how mathematics helps to understand the spread of an epidemic and how the theory of fair division allows for more equitable policies.

Christiane Rousseau, University of Montreal, initiator for the IMU of the IDM project

The date of 14 March is already known as Pi Day and celebrated in many countries. It is named after the important number π, the ratio between the circumference and diameter of a circle, approximately equal to 3.14. The IDM celebration expands Pi Day to include the whole spectrum of mathematics. In view of the pandemic, the 2021 theme of “Mathematics for a Better World” reminds us that athematics and statistics are essential tools for decision-makers in that they enable us to predict the evolution of the disease and optimizemitigation strategies with limited resources. But the role of mathematics in building a better world goes well beyond the pandemic response, and schools are invited to explore the mathematics of fair division, which has so many applications in designing economic and social policies.

The IDM website is the main hub for the International Day of Mathematics.

It hosts information material to be used by press and organizers (including logos and flyers in different languages) as well as proposals for activities related to the theme for everyone interested in hosting an event. All the official material provided through the website is under an open license, which means it can be freely shared, translated, and adapted.

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