Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013

Showcasing the essential relevance of mathematics to planetary problems, Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 kicks off an international year of scientific and outreach activities.

Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 (mpe2013.org) is an initiative of over 100 scientific societies, research institutes, universities, and organizations all over the world. The mission of the project is to encourage research in identifying and solving fundamental questions about planet Earth, encourage educators at all levels to communicate the issues related to planet Earth, inform the public about the essential role of the mathematical sciences in facing the challenges to our planet, and encourage young people interested in sustainability and global issues to consider mathematics as an exciting career choice. MPE2013 enjoys the patronage of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.  It is also endorsed by the International Mathematical Union (IMU), the International Council of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM), and the International Commission of Mathematical Instruction (ICMI).

Mathematics of Planet Earth includes the following four themes:

  1. A PLANET TO DISCOVER: oceans; meteorology and climate; mantle processes, natural resources, celestial mechanics  
  2. A PLANET SUPPORTING LIFE: ecology, biodiversity, evolution  
  3. A PLANET ORGANIZED BY HUMANS: political, economic, social and financial systems; organization of transport and communications networks; management of resources; energy  
  4. A PLANET AT RISK: climate change, sustainable development, epidemics; invasive species, natural disasters.  

The Department of Mathematical Sciences, in collaboration with the Center Of Industrial Mathematics and Statistics, will dedicate a number of activities to this initiative during 2013:

    • Math Awareness Month "Mathematics of Sustainability" — April 2013
2013 Math Awareness Month talk - "Influence of Climate Change on Extreme Weather Events"
Dr. Richard L. Smith, University of North Carolina and SAMSI
Date: April 9, 2013
Time: 4:00-5:00pm
Where: Salisbury Labs 115

    • Mathematics Problems for Industry Workshop — June 17-21, 2013
MPI is a problem solving workshop that attracts leading applied mathematicians and scientists from universities, industry, and national laboratories. During the workshop, engineers and scientists from industry interact with the academic participants on problems of interest to their companies. In the past, these problems have included, but were not limited to: engineering and product design, process design and control, environmental remediation, scheduling and optimization and financial modeling.

    • Research Experience for Undergraduates in Industrial Mathematics and Statistics 2013 --Wednesday May 29, 2013 - Friday July 26, 2013
The program is designed to provide a glimpse of the ways that advanced mathematics is used in the real world to solve complex problems. The students will work on a real-life problem generated by our industrial sponsors; they work closely with a company representative to define the problem and develop solutions of immediate value to the company and are guided by a faculty advisor. The eight-week REU Program in Industrial Mathematics and Statistics was started at WPI in 1998 with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). It is the first mathematics REU program in the US that exclusively involves students in real-world projects sponsored by corporate partners.

    • MathWorks/CIMS Lecture Series:  February 13, March 20, and April 10

    • Department of Mathematical Sciences Colloquium Series
Presentations on topics relevant to the MPE2013 year will be scheduled in the Colloquium Series

    • K-12 Outreach


"Mathematics is the language of science and technology, and the toolkit by which these and related disciplines explicate their increasingly complex, interdisciplinary, and important investigations into the workings of the natural world and the power of these disciplines to affect it. The applications of mathematics in this work are wide and profound. Yet, as members of the natural world ourselves, our minds continue to produce mathematical structures, questions, and achievements which may seem to some arcane, but which often find powerful use in the continuing advance of knowledge. The beautiful aesthetics, in art, architecture, music, and poetry, from mathematical relationships is a stunning reminder of its great value in all human thought. The hope, especially in the MPE2013 project, is for the continuing positive impact on the important challenges in the preservation of our natural environment, economic stability, and social advance."

Dennis Berkey, Past President and CEO, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

December 6, 2012

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