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The unplanned impact of mathematics and how research is funded: a discussion-led activity

workshop, 8th British Congress of Mathematics Education (16/04/2014).

Mathematics is sometimes developed (or discovered) by a mathematician following curiosity with no thought of application. Later, perhaps decades or centuries later, this mathematics fits some application area perfectly. This aspect of mathematics has serious implications as increasingly researchers are asked to predict the impact of their research before it is funded and research quality is measured partly by its short term impact. A session on this has been used successfully in a UK undergraduate mathematics module on how maths interacts with wider society. This explored the concept of 'unplanned impact' and views on the phenomenon, as well as its impact on the way research is funded. This workshop will describe the session and demonstrate some of the activities used.
This session is one of a series on the History of Mathematics in Education coordinated by BSHM.