Pi Day 2024: public lecture & Sydney high school workshops

To celebrate the International Day of Mathematics in 2024 (aka “Pi Day 3.14”), a range of mathematical activities took place across Sydney in the week in March.

SMRI organised three public events at the University of Sydney for all ages and levels of mathematics from 12–14 March.

UNSW and Western Sydney University also hosted high school workshops and a UNSW public lecture.

UNSW Counting conundrums workshop: Monday 11 March, 16:3018:00, Anita B. Lawrence Centre (East), Room 3085

Counting conundrums workshop

There are many situations in life where a problem can be solved by careful counting! Counting may seem like a simple task, but sometimes it can be surprisingly tricky.

In this workshop, we will help four STEM workers with counting problems that have come up in their research, by making use of cups, coloured paper, and collaboration.

This workshop will be presented by UNSW lecturer Dr Sean Gardiner, and is recommended for high school students in Years 9-12 with an interest in mathematics and problem-solving.

SMRI Fold and cut theorem workshop: Tuesday 12 March, 16:0018:00, Law Annex Seminar Room 342, University of Sydney

Fold and cut theorem, origami paper

Who doesn’t enjoy the relaxing feeling that comes with cutting out intricate shapes and designs from coloured paper for arts and crafts class? Sometimes, we might even find ourselves folding up our paper in clever ways such that one cut can do the work of many. However, this poses an interesting question for mathematicians: given any shape, can we fold a rectangular sheet of paper in such a way that we can produce this shape with a single, straight cut? We will answer this question by exploring the mathematics behind these folds and cuts in a combination of hands-on activities and discussions.

This event will be presented by University of Sydney mathematicians, Thomas Zheng and Andy Tran.

The workshop is for high-school students in Sydney who are studying maths. Considering taking higher level mathematics next year or at University? Come along!

SMRI Ruler-and-compass vs origami workshop: Wednesday 13 March, 16:0018:00, Law Annex Seminar Room 342, University of Sydney

Ruler-and-compass constructions and origami

In this workshop we’ll explore the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid’s ruler-and-compass constructions, and their mysteries that stumped mathematicians for millennia: trisecting angles and squaring circles.

We’ll compare the ruler and compass method of construction to the Japanese art of paper folding—also known as origami—and see which one can achieve more! Can you origami-trisect an angle? Can you origami-square a circle? The answers are rooted in the concept of “field extensions”, discovered by 19th century mathematician Evariste Galois.

This event will be presented by University of Sydney mathematician Associate Professor Zsuzsanna Dancso from the School of Mathematics and Statistic’s Algebra Group.

The workshop is for high-school students in Sydney who are studying maths. Considering taking higher level mathematics next year or at University? Come along!

UNSW public lecture and reception: Wednesday 13 March, 18:0020:00, Anita B. Lawrence Centre Room 4082/3, UNSW

Catherine Greenhill, Christian Bagshaw

Join us for these special lectures “From Prime Numbers to Random Networks“, including audience Q&A with the speakers, and a networking reception following the talks with finger food and refreshments.

Christian Bagshaw is a PhD student in Pure Mathematics at UNSW. His research is focused in an area of mathematics called number theory, which studies (among other things) the properties of prime numbers. Christian has won multiple awards for his presentations.

Catherine Greenhill is a Professor in the UNSW School of Mathematics and Statistics. Her research involves discrete mathematics, theoretical computer science and probability. She was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2022.

SMRI public lecture and reception: Thursday 14 March, 18:0020:00, Messel lecture theatre (Sydney Nanoscience Hub)

Geometry illustration: Escher cutting, Euclid's geometry, detail from "School of Athens" by Raphael
Left to right: Woodcut by Escher, Euclid’s Elements of Geometry, detail from Raphael fresco The School of Athens

“Geometry is the archetype of the beauty of the world.” – Johannes Kepler

Geometry was born from practical needs in ancient civilisations. Over the years, geometry has pushed boundaries of abstract and philosophical thought, facilitated scientific discoveries, and left an imprint in the finest art pieces.

Join mathematician Milena Radnović for “Geometry: the archetype of beauty“, a journey through the field of geometry.

Speaker bio: Milena Radnović is Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Sydney. Her research interests lie in geometry and dynamical systems.

Milena was born, raised and educated in Belgrade, Serbia, where she carried out research at the Mathematical Institute of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Art and taught talented students in the Mathematical Grammar School. She has held fellowships with the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy.

In addition to mathematics, Milena loves to read, cook, exercise, and spend time with her daughter, family, and friends.

University of Western Sydney high school workshop: Thursday 14 March, 18:3019:30, Building P.1.58, Second Ave, WSU

High School Student Workshop: Associate Professor Leanne Rylands will be running her famous Rubik’s Cube workshop. So, if you are an expert or want to learn how to solve this mysterious cube, come and join us! We will have pizza and drinks available.

Venue: Building P, Room P.1.58, Western Sydney University, Kingswood Campus

Larissa Fedunik-Hofman