Keynote, Communicating mathematics: a historical and personal journey – Robin Wilson – Beyond Borders 2010

4000 years of mathematical history.

The Spoken Word

  • Inaugural lectures – Example of Christopher Wren’s in 1657. Public lectures.
  • How do you design a lecture that is not too slow for the advanced students but not too quick for the less able students?

Informal meeting also an important form of communication, perhaps over lunch, in the bar or in the corridor.  Can be as useful as ‘taught’ sessions.

Maths has also been communicated through radio, TV shows (both factual, e.g. Open University, and fiction) as well as films (for example Good Will Hunting) and plays.

The Written Word

Many mathematical ideas delivered by written word through a variety of means.

Communication of mathematical ideas included sending letters.  Letters have largely given way to email now.  This may cause problems for historians in the future who will not have access to emails in the same way that they have access to letters.

It doesn’t matter what you do as long as:

  • It’s worthwhile
  • you do it well
  • all the jobs that have to be done are done.

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