Maths in society: Engagement and impact

Maths is often thought of as a theoretical subject, but the applications are endless and we’re keen to show how maths helps us to engage with the world and have an impact. Below are a few examples of projects we work on and people we work with.

2018 Maths Olympiad convenor

Auckland Mathematical Association

AMA is the professional association for teachers of mathematics and statistics in the Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland region. They seek to promote, support and improve the teaching and learning of mathematics, statistics and pāngarau across sectors.

Our Mathematics Education Unit helped to set up AMA. We work closely with them and have a permanent representative on the AMA Executive Committee. Our current representative is Rachel Passmore, who has been a member of the AMA Executive since 2013.

Teaching and research staff also frequently deliver plenary sessions and workshops at physical and online events run by AMA and the New Zealand Association of Mathematics Teachers (NZAMT).

Find out more about AMA.

CRYPTREC standardisation

CRYPTREC stands for the Cryptography Research and Evaluation Committees, which was set up by the Japanese Government to evaluate and recommend cryptographic techniques for government and industrial use. It provides technical evaluation and recommendations concerning regulations that implement Japanese laws. Head of Department Professor Steven Galbraith is a reviewer for CRYPTREC.

Cyber Security Foundry

We are a founding partner of the Cyber Security Foundry, a hub for world-leading technical expertise, industry collaboration, training of security professionals, and the development of new security solutions.

CSF aims to help organisations understand and prepare, and individuals upskill in the area of information security.

Find out more about the Cyber Security Foundry.

Mathematics in Industry NZ

Dr Stephen Taylor is a director of Mathematics in Industry NZ, which hosts events that brings New Zealand companies and researchers in mathematics, statistics and engineering together to collaborate on solutions to industry challenges.

Businesses that have benefitted from MINZ collaborations include Fonterra (MINZ helped to predict how cheese matures) and Fisher & Paykel (MINZ helped to solve dynamic washing machine balancing by system modelling).

Find out more about MINZ.

NCEA Review

The NCEA is New Zealand’s key school-leaving qualification, with around 150,000 students studying towards the qualification each year.

In May 2019 the Government announced changes to strengthen NCEA and help maintain the trust and confidence in New Zealand qualifications. As part of these changes, the Ministry of Education is partnering with key stakeholders to work on the details of the NCEA changes and ensure these are coherent, inclusive, accessible and can be implemented successfully.

Dr Sione Ma’u is part of a group convened by the Ministry of Education to create new numeracy standards at NCEA level 1. He is also part of a group feeding back on the development of the standards and giving constructive feedback.

Find out more about the NCEA Review.

New Zealand Mathematical Society

Several members of our staff are actively involved with the running of the New Zealand Mathematical Society, which is the representative body of professional mathematicians in New Zealand, founded in 1974. Its aims include promotion of research in the mathematical sciences, the development, application and dissemination of mathematical knowledge within New Zealand, and effective cooperation and collaboration between mathematicians and their colleagues in New Zealand and in other countries.

Associate Professor Vivien Kirk is currently the Vice President, and Dr Melissa Tacy is a Council member as well as editor of the newsletter, and convenor of the Early Career network for the NZMS.

Find out more about the New Zealand Mathematical Society.

Pacific Academy

The University of Auckland Pacific Academy is an initiative run out of the Pro Vice Chancellor Pacific's office at the Te Tai Tonga campus. It is an evidence-based approach to improving the academic outcomes of students, particularly in maths and physics, while supporting the development of core literacy skills within a Pasifika cultural setting and a framework of personal and leadership development.

It draws on research conducted by the University to work with schools and students to improve Pacific achievement, particularly with a mind to prepare for University study. The Academy is run by professional teaching fellow Josephina Ah Sam. Josephina and other members of the department regularly participate in activities led by the Academy.

South Auckland Mathematics Challenge

The South Auckland Mathematics Challenge was created in 2019 by professional teaching fellow Josephina Ah Sam and University of Auckland alumna and current Head of Department (Mathematics) at Mangere College, Katalina Ma. They both recognised the correlation between the lack of success in tertiary studies for Māori and Pasific students and a weakness in senior mathematics, originally stemming from shortcomings in junior mathematics.

SAMC is a three-month long competition, offered as a free event to South Auckland high schools which also acts as a preparation tool for the regional Mathex competition. By creating a competition which aims to involve an entire community, Māori and Pacific students will be more interested in mathematics, become more likely to flourish academically in Mathematics and Science, and therefore have a greater chance of pursuing and succeeding at university.