'The bedrock of all sciences': letters in The Times and Guardian

Letters by LMS President Ulrike Tillmann reiterating the importance of investment in mathematics have been published in The Times and Guardian.

The letters followed the publication of a House of Lords Science and Technology report on the government’s global ambitions for science and technology, which include making the UK a 'science and technology superpower'. 

You can read the Guardian letter ('Lack of maths funding will hinder UK's scientific progress'; 8 Aug) here.

The Times letter was in response to an article by William Hague on the importance of the Conservative leadership candidates and new prime minister prioritising science investment (It's time to do for science what we did for sport; 2 Aug). The letter was published on 6 Aug and can be read (behind a paywall) here.  The text of the letter is also quoted below.

Bedrock of maths (Times article)


Ensuring that Britain becomes a science superpower is indeed the single most important activity in bringing prosperity, growth and security to this country (William Hague, Aug 2; letters, Aug 3–5). It is right that this should be a focus of any new prime minister. However, the government must not forget the importance of mathematics – the bedrock of all sciences – in achieving this ambition. In January 2020 the government announced £300 million in additional funding for the mathematical sciences. Yet two years later the majority of this funding has yet to be provided. Although some may point to all that has occurred to the nation and its finances in the intervening time, it ought not to be forgotten that it was maths that illuminated the path out of the Covid crisis via its use in modelling the pandemic, underpinning the science behind the vaccines and informing the introduction of those vital medicines. 

University maths departments need urgent clarity on the sustainability of maths funding to approve study programmes that will last years into the future and which could provide the next technological breakthrough. Maths enables today’s most exciting and urgent scientific and technological developments, including artificial intelligence, driverless cars, the development of quantum computers and superfast broadband. Maths is crucial to our national security and contributes billions of pounds to our GDP. Without explicit support and investment for all the mathematical sciences, this will be at risk.

Professor Ulrike Tillmann
President of the London Mathematical Society

Last updated 10 August 2022