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Discussing the field of arithmetic, an area used in everyday life.

An Asian society organization article describes mathematics as the body of information and practice which is derived from the contributions of intellectuals throughout the ages and across civilization. “It gives us a way to understand patterns, to quantify relationships, and to predict the future. Maths helps us understand the world — and we use the world to understand math,” the article suggests. The Strathmore Institute of Mathematical Sciences (SIMS) recognizes the importance of the field of mathematics, discussed research, strategy, and application of math in our lives at the Strathmore International Mathematics Conference (SIMC) for the fifth time in the past 10 years at Strathmore University. The event took place from the 12th to 16th August 2019. The theme of the conference was promoting challenge-driven research in mathematical sciences and building collaborative research networks.

The conference had three main objectives, namely: to provide a platform for researchers, educationalists, scholars, contributors, users of mathematical information and industries to exchange ideas and communicate and explore research findings and new advancement in mathematical sciences; to explore possible prospects for fostering academic and student interaction, as well as scientific activities, and to identify future needs and opportunities for mathematical sciences in the industry and promote stronger links between scholars in mathematics and industry for mutual benefit. Since there was much content to go through and discuss, the seminar was divided into six different categories; pure mathematics, data science and computational intelligence, mathematical finance and economics, mathematics education and lastly, biomathematical modelling. Cross-cutting issues were discussed during the pre-school seminars and the main conference.

The dean of SIMS, Mr. Ferdinand Othieno, opened the seminar with a few remarks. He acclaimed the unity of Mathematics and the urgent need to break down the artificial boundaries that dichotomize the field into either pure or applied mathematics. The dean further called upon the participants to embrace the theme of the conference and form long lasting alliances to further research in Mathematical Sciences for the benefit of society. Indeed, the spirit of collaboration and networking was in the air as on the first day alone there were close to 120 participants at the opening ceremony representing 12 nationalities across America, Asia, Europe and Africa.

In his opening remarks for the main conference, Strathmore University Vice Chancellor Prof. John Odhiambo said he wanted to see mathematics grow in the region, hence the bringing together of Africa’s leading mathematicians, scholars and students to gain insight, and inspiration from each other. “Graduate students who have participated in this conference in the past met their mentors, bosses and fellow colleagues, who have helped them achieve great goals in the field of mathematics and are today PHD holders or specialised individuals in this area.” Prof. Odhiambo also urged the attendees to make an impact and speak on the importance of mathematics. “We cannot show its importance, if we do not show what solutions mathematics can produce. Mathematics can no longer remain in the backdoor! We must rise and make it the backbone!” he said emphatically. Prof. Odhiambo further touched on the need to focus on the quality and not the quantity of mathematics’ research output for this field to be a useful tool when dealing with issues in Africa, and globally.

The summit had a variety of speakers from Canada, USA, UK, South Africa and, of course, our great nation, Kenya. This years’ SIMC received a lot of support from the German Academic Exchange service (DAAD) and The International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. It was not all formal and work, as there was a dinner at Strathmore University’s main auditorium on Thursday 15th August, with performances from Kayamba Africa that got everyone on their feet moving to the rhythmic beats of their vibrant, melodious music. The sixth edition of the conference continues in two years’ time. Dubbed SIMC 2021, the conference is proposed to take place between 29th June and 3rd July 2021 under the theme “Advancing Research and education in Mathematical Sciences in the ‘Big Data’ era.”


This article was written by Stephen Mariru

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