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What do mathematicians do if machines do all the maths?

What do mathematicians do if machines are doing all the math?

For thousands of years, calculation - numerical and symbolic - was the price we had to pay to do or use mathematics. But that is no longer the case.

For thousands of years, calculation - numerical and symbolic - was the price we had to pay to do or use mathematics. But that is no longer the case.

Since the late 1980s, we have had machines that can perform any step-by-step mathematical procedure, systems that can handle far more variables than a human ever could: they never make mistakes and they do enormously complex mathematics in a fraction of a second.

Moreover, many of those tools are easily available and free.

As a result, for the last thirty years, professional mathematicians, or those who use mathematics professionally, have not performed any kind of calculation by hand (except in very special circumstances).

So what exactly do the math pros do? And how do we teach the next generation to live and work in this world?

Professor Keith Devlin, Director of the Stanford Mathematics Outreach Project in the Graduate School of Education, delivers a public lecture at the University of Auckland discussing how the rise of the computer has removed many of the complex calculations which used to be carried out by hand, how that has changed the mathematics profession and the impact on teaching the next generation.

Keith Devlin is a co-founder and Executive Director Emeritus of the Stanford’s H-Star institute and a co-founder of the Stanford mediaX research network. He is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Mathematical Society. Recipient of the Pythagoras Prize, the Peano Prize, and the Carl Sagan Award, he is known as "the Math Guy" on USA National Public Radio.

This free public lecture will be held on Tuesday, 26 March at 6.15pm at the University of Auckland in Lecture Theatre PLT1, Building 303, 38 Princes Street. Refreshments from 5.30pm, Level 4 Common Space. All welcome.

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