Popularisation and Teaching

Mathematics and the imagination

Mathoetic mode, Article, LMS Newsletter, January 2008

Sonya Kovaleskaya on mathematicians, imagination  and poets.

The role of the poet, by W. Shakespeare. Is this role analogous to that of the mathematician?

Albert Einstein on the relevance of considering the Theory of knowledge.

Alexander Grothendieck on speculation.

Barry Mazur has articles on Mathematics and the Imagination on his home page.

Are there famous problems in Category Theory?

Mathematics and the Imagination: A Brief Introduction This is a scholarly Introduction by Arielle Saiber and Henry S. Turner to the 17 (2009) issue of the journal Configurations.

Math-Overflow: how do you decide whether a question in abstract algebra is worth studying?

Aims in University Mathematics Education

``Carpentry: a fable'',   R. Brown,  Mathematical Intelligencer, 11, no.4 (1989) 37.

What should be the output of mathematical education?
This is an edited web version of the article published in: Mathematics education as a research domain: a search for identity, ed. Kilpatrick, J. and Sierpinska, A., Kluwer, Lancaster (1997) 459-476.

What should be the context of an adequate specialist undergraduate education in mathematics?, Ronnie Brown and Tim Porter, The De Morgan Journal 2 no. 1, (2012) 411--67.

An examination paper from a University Staff Training College, Mathematics Division, has turned up, and may be found here. It was first presented at an evening discussion session on `The Public Image of Mathematics', led by the writer, at the British Mathematical Colloquium at St. Andrews in 1987. No answers were handed in! Related comments and quotations have been added, and some additional questions. Comments welcome! Following up the ideas here led to our courses:
Mathematics in Context  description of a course given at Bangor.  Have a look also at this interesting link to a Didsbury student paper.

`Ideas in mathematics'. Here are details of a first year math course.

What is mathematics? Please debate these issues!

Best Practice, THES Article, 22/10/04

Promoting mathematics , pdf of article in EMS Newsletter June 2010, 17-21, revised version of article published in MSOR Connections, vol 7, No 2, May 2007.

"Why study mathematics",  by R. Brown and T.Porter,   Mathematics for the future IMA/Hobsons 1995.

``The methodology of mathematics''.  by R. Brown and T.Porter,
This is a version of the article in Bulletin International Commission of Mathematical Instruction, 37 (1994) 23-37; Math. Gazette, 79 No 485 July, 1995, 321-324. It has also been published in Lithuanian (Alfa + Omega, 1 Nr 5 (1998) 71-84 ), in the J. Transfigural Mathematics, in CUBO, and in the European Mathematical Society Newsletter in two parts, June  and September, 2001

Towards a Philosophy of Real Mathematics, by David Corfield. Do look up other links on this excellent book.

`Mathematicians struggle for truth'

Discussion on mathoverflow on "How do you decide whether a question in abstract algebra is worth studying?"


Click here for links to the life and work of Alexander Grothendieck,

George W. Mackey  : this is a brief account of how he encouraged me in work on groupoids by telling me of his interest in them.

Donald Coxeter's 90th Birthday celebration at the Fields Institute, February 9, 1997; photos of the occasion, and link to my presentation on
The Symbolic Sculptures of John Robinson: Geometry, values, form and structure

Research Assessment

Quality in Higher Education: a discussion document, including an analogy with business and commerce. It seems Government practice is the opposite of recognised quality management, which should be about investment, training, people and attitudes, and not about systems nor paperwork!

Banquo on the seeds of time:

The methodology of the RAE.

Letter on Science Funding to `Science and Public Affairs', August 1999.

A senseless system: On the RAE, by Simon Caulkin, Management Editor of the Observer, December, 2008.

MetricsREF  A document prepared for the LMS by Charles Goldie analysing the problems of using `metrics' as a basis for research evaluation by the HEFC. pdf file

Assesment of articles, journals and Thomsons ISI

Quality management in business, by J. Varey


Category theory and higher dimensional algebra: prospective tools in theoretical neuroscience. (pdf file)

The intuitions of higher dimensional algebra for the study of structures space. (pdf file)

`Out of Line'  Link to pdf and html files of a new version of a presentation as a Friday Evening Discourse to the Royal Insititution of Great Britain in May, 1992. The title refers both to the area being non traditional and to the idea of higher dimensional algebra.

Pdf file of presentation on Mathematics and Knots at
Visual Representations and Interpretation
s: Liverpool, Sept 22-24, 1998.

``Making a mathematical exhibition'',    by R. Brown and T. Porter, in The popularization of mathematics, edited A.G.Howson and J.-P. Kahane, ICMI Study Series, Cambridge University Press, (1990) 51-64.

`Analogy, concepts and methodology in mathematics', by Ronnie Brown and Tim Porter.  pdf file Eureka, (September 2006) 23-27.

`Category Theory: an abstract setting for analogy and comparison', by R. Brown and T. Porter, pdf file In: What is Category Theory? Advanced Studies in Mathematics and Logic, Polimetrica Publisher, Italy, (2006) 257-274.

The five Ds -  necessities for any writer! (Learned from a novelist talking on the radio.)

Some remarks on research in Mathematics   Extract from one of the Prefaces to `Topology and Groupoids'.

The origins of symbolicity. This is an article by the distinguished Auatralian palaeontologist Robert Bednarik on the use of symbols by early hominids. I find this relevant to mathematics, in which symbols play a key role. In any case, I find it fascinating!

John Robinson, Sculptor

Symbolism in the sculptures of John Robinson
A discussion in the context of `Knowledge: representation and interpretation' . Published in  Theoria et Historia Scientiarum, the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, issue on `Knowledge: representation and interpretation.', edited W. Meyer and R. Paton, 6 (2002) 55-73.

"Symbolic sculptures and mathematics", Brochure on the four John Robinson Scuptures at Bangor; the non colour version is distributed freely by the University and through Tourist Centres in North Wales. Notes by Ronald Brown, 1993.

"Symbolic Sculptures and Mathematics", Web Site  Presented by the Centre for the Popularisation of Mathematics and Edition Limitée.

John Robinson, Sculptor, May 5, 1935 -April 6, 2007. Article in Hyperseeing, June 2007.

A recent presentation on My Friend John Robinson, Sculptor ; pdf file, 26MB.

Seventeen great videos of sculptures may be found on YouTube by searching for `John Robinson sculptor'.

There is much very well presented material on John's official site: Bradshaw Foundation, which also reflects John's long standing interest in Rock Art, and the history of makind.

External Links

updated July 15, 2013

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