Via Times of Malta : When people think of a mathematician, what do they picture?
Probably, they would visualise a person (invariably male) in front of a blackboard chock-full of numbers and esoteric, intimidating symbols.
Maybe someone with unkempt hair, quirky manners and questionable social skills would come to mind.
Perhaps they would retrieve the story of a past mathematician, whose life was illustrated in some movie or book.
It is usually imagined that a mathematician is someone who lived hundreds, maybe even thousands of years ago, and that such human specimens are extinct today.
It is true that the mathematics we know and study today is based on the great works of mathematicians such as Euclid, al-Khwarizmi, Bombelli, Cauchy, Gauss, Euler and Hilbert. But mathematics is not just a thing of the past.
Mathematics is still evolving today, and mathematicians are still among us. In fact, we are literally surrounded by mathematics and we are likely not even conscious of this fact.
For example, suppose you are browsing some online store to buy an album of your favourite music artist.
Often, the website would display other recommended albums for your consideration; albums of artists who are to your liking as well, even though not all of them are of the same music genre as the album you were going to buy.
How does the website infer your musical taste in such an uncanny, almost omniscient, way?
It turns out that these accurate predictions are made by behind-the-scenes algorithms that analyse your past album purchases and correlate them with those of other people who have bought similar albums to yours. And the basis of these algorithms is mathematics.
This illustrates that mathematics is still very much relevant to today’s world; so much, in fact, that it is influencing our daily life choices – even though we are probably unaware of this.
Perhaps, mathematics is not just important in our daily lives, but its significance is nowadays deeper than ever before.