Impact150: stories of the impact of mathematics

Most readers will be well acquainted with the word “impact” from research funders and policy makers. In the UK this has achieved greatest prominence through the Research Excellence Framework (REF), where “Impact” means impact not just outside the subject, but outside academia. All mathematicians are convinced that mathematics does have broad impact in this sense, but it can require work to convince others.  Although the REF highlighted many ways in which mathematics has impact, some of us have found it frustrating that many valuable impacts simply did not qualify within the REF framework.  The purpose of the present series is to give a forum for stories celebrating the long term, pervasive and holographic impact of mathematics.

The stories are unconstrained by strict rules of format, and would not serve for REF purposes, however the basic rule is similar: the stories are told in a way that begins with a piece of mathematics (recognisable as such by a professional mathematician) and ends with an impact outside academia (recognisable as such by someone not employed in a university).  The only other rule is that since the LMS was 150 years old on 16 January 2015, the stories should be based on mathematics done in the last 150 years.

I hope you will enjoy these stories and share them with friends, family and colleagues. In fact, I hope you will be inspired to think of other stories that should be told.  If so, please contact me ( experience shows that it is relatively easy to think of stories, and that the key to getting it written is to find the right author, having both the knowledge and the energy to bring the story to fruition.  This is the perfect lead in for me to once again thank our authors for telling their stories, and for their patience with our publication process.

John Greenlees


Impact150 Stories

The Impact of Mathematics on Meteorology and Weather Prediction - Ian Roulstone (pages 1-8)

Categorical Monads and Computer Programming - Nick Benton (pages 9-13)

Modern Developments in the Theory and Applications of Moving Frames - Peter Olver (pages 14-50)

Error-Correction and the Binary Golay Code - Robert Curtis (pages 51-58)

How Number Theory Enables a Secure Internet - Nigel P. Smart (pages 59-62)

Viruses and Geometry: Group, Graph and Tiling Theory Open Up Novel Avenues for Anti-Viral Therapy - Reidun Twarock (pages 63-68)