Mathematics: The Key to the Universe


Professor Mike Miniou from the University of Waterloo recently spoke to Middle and Senior School students about the applicability of math in future careers. He also brought a set of difficult questions found in math contests to challenge the students.

I Will Derive

On the eighteenth of October Mr. Miniou from the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing gave us a two hour presentation on the applications of mathematics in the real world.

To start with, he gave us a real-life problem faced by organ recipients: how did you match up the biggest amount of compatible donors with patients? It came with a chart that showed many diagonal lines connecting the recipients (A,B,C,D,E,F) to the donors (1,2,3,4,5,6,7). The chart in question is used to maximize the potential of efficiently and effectively delivering organs to their respective patients.

For the next 90 minutes he ran us through various examples (and a few trials) of how mathematics applies in many fields including computing, economics, many aspects of science, and architecture. He did this all with a creative PowerPoint that included several problems that the Grade 8 students were given a (surprisingly) large amount of time to solve.

All in all, the presentation was very interesting and entertaining. As far as I could see, the presentation instilled the same awe (that mathematics could be interesting) in the other students as it did me. The problems were fairly easy as well, meriting a number of right answers. Even for the people that don’t like math, this may soften their attitude.