It is not just about math!
2017 LAU-Mathematics Tournament brings math students together and sheds light on the importance of Applied Mathematics on a graduate level.
The 2017 LAU-Mathematics Tournament, a first-of-its-kind in Lebanon, recently united undergraduate math students from 11 universities at LAU Beirut to compete and solve mathematics-related problems.
The participants, divided in 22 teams, went in for a two-hour-long contest comprised of three sections, namely analysis, algebra and combinatorics.
“It was really enjoyable, well put together, and of a very high standard,” said Patrick Salhany, a mathematics student at the Saint Joseph University, who is contemplating enrolling in graduate math studies. Salhany and his colleague Joe Ghafari came third.
Organized by the Department of Computer Science and Mathematics and cosponsored by the Lebanese Society for Mathematical Sciences (LSMS), the event aimed to gather Lebanese math students and put their skills to the test, while encouraging them to join graduate mathematics programs and engage in research projects in Applied Mathematics.
The guidelines of the tournament were explained by Associate Professor Chadi Nour, who chaired the scientific committee of LAU-MT2017 which was composed of mathematics faculty representing the participating universities, and mandated to write and correct the problems of the competition.
“This tournament is the first of a series of annual events to come,” said the chair of the organizing committee of LAU-MT2017 Rony Touma, associate professor of mathematics at LAU and the coordinator of the university’s newly launched Applied and Computational Mathematics Graduate Program.
Applied mathematics and computational science is increasingly used as a tool to solve problems in a variety of fields, from engineering and physics to business. As a result, and in a world where new technologies are slowly taking over at all levels, new perspectives and career prospects are opening up.
“This tournament is a great opportunity for all math lovers to get together and brainstorm about the challenges and future of this field,” said Chair of the Computer Science and Mathematics Department Danielle Azar.
Director of the LSMS Rachelle Hobeika Kallas agreed. She stressed the importance of convening professors from different universities for the sake of healthy competition, treating various teaching problems and deepening the grasp of the discipline via lectures, seminars and scholarships, among others.
Applied Mathematics has a key role in today’s interdisciplinary research, said guest speaker at the event Omar Knio. An author, Knio is the cofounder of Reactive NanoTechnologies, Inc. and professor of Applied Mathematics and Computational Science at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.
According to him, there is a dire need for applied mathematics and data science in countless fields such as law, finance, physics, meteorology, sales and many more. “The mentality of advising against integration and saying, ‘let the chemists do chemistry and let the physicists do physics’ has now shifted to the complete opposite,” said Knio, pointing out that more and more people are realizing the importance of this integration between disciplines. “We are in the middle of a paradigm shift, and the integration of information between fields is a must. It is through this paradigm shift that we can understand the role of the applied mathematician,” he said.
Knio’s words resonated with winners of the context Celine Khoury and Samara Chamoun from the Lebanese University, who found his talk helpful and enlightening. Similarly, Hiba Bou Kaed Bey and Alina Al Beaini from Notre Dame University, who came second, felt encouraged by the expert’s insights. They will both be continuing their graduate studies in pure mathematics.
Awareness, resources, research needs and opportunities were at the heart of a discussion between speakers and professors that tackled the advantages and challenges of Applied Mathematics in Lebanon. Different actions were explored, starting with further collaboration between universities, sharing data and faculty, working toward common goals, networking between graduates, and reaching out to external agencies.
All competitors received a certificate of participation in LAU-MT2017 and the winning teams received a nation-wide accredited certificate endorsed by LSMS in addition to several gifts including smart watches, tablets, fine pens, and other gadgets.
“The positive feedback we received after the tournament suggests that LAU-MT2017 was definitely a successful event, and mathematics students are already looking forward to LAU-MT2018,” Touma said. “The option of having a similar regional event is now being seriously investigated,” he added.