Melbourne, June 21: World leaders in the mathematical sciences are visiting Melbourne for a series of research programs at Australia’s first international research institute for mathematics and statistics.
The new international Mathematics Research Institute, MATRIX, has been established by the University of Melbourne and Monash University – both pioneering universities in mathematical sciences research – to act as a catalyst for creative thinking during hands-on, face-to-face research programs lasting several weeks.
The institute’s ambition is to create an environment that generates transformative ideas. It is inspired by discoveries in basic research that eventually contribute to significant applications such as online banking, WIFI and GPS.
The launch of MATRIX highlights the importance of mathematical sciences to Australia’s prosperity, said Professor Jim McCluskey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research at the University of Melbourne.
“This new institute will ensure Australian researchers are internationally engaged and have strong international networks for research collaboration,” Professor McCluskey said.
Monash University Provost and Senior Vice-President Professor Edwina Cornish explained the significance of two world-leading universities in the field of mathematical sciences coming together in this unique way.
“Monash University and the University of Melbourne both have a formidable reputation in the fields of pure and applied mathematical sciences research, attracting high-calibre national and international academics,” Professor Cornish said.
“Combining the research strengths of these two universities into an institute like MATRIX will create a mathematics powerhouse in Australia, which we hope will attract more exceptional mathematicians from all corners of the globe, leading to new ideas and discoveries.”
The model is based on similar, successful research institutes overseas like the Oberwolfach institute in Germany, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, The Simons Center for Geometry and Physics in Stony Brook, the Banff International Research Station in Canada, and the Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge.
While in Australia, institute members will initially be based at a ‘Maths house’ at the University of Melbourne’s Creswick campus, surrounded by the Wombat State Forest near Ballarat.
The ambition is to create a new, custom-made building to house MATRIX and its members.
MATRIX Director Professor Jan De Gier from the University of Melbourne emphasised that the aim of the programs is two-fold: to facilitate problem solving collaborations between academia and industry and to provide a facility for basic research that can have applications anywhere.
“Some 350 years ago, Newton and Leibniz created the field of calculus, which is now pervasive in science and technology,” he said.
“Space travel, weather forecasting and profit optimisation are just a few examples. The value of basic research can be revolutionary. An idea arising from these research programs could be used in every computer in years to come.”
MATRIX Deputy Director Professor David Wood from Monash University said he was looking forward to the scale and variety of the research programs on offer.
“Our diverse program has started with a workshop on higher structures in geometry and physics, which has attracted participants from across the world,” Professor Wood said.
“Following that we will offer a wide range of dynamic and stimulating research programs across both pure and applied mathematical sciences research; from a workshop on the mathematics of risk, to a centenary retreat themed around the life and research of World War II codebreaker and mathematician Bill Tutte.”
feature image – The first MATRIX program was held at the University of Melbourne’s Creswick campus. Picture: Jan de Gier