Welcome from the Head of School


Welcome to the UNSW School of Mathematics and Statistics

Some commentators have remarked that we are in the fourth industrial revolution, identifying; the first, 1760+, steam leading to mechanization; the second, 1870+, electricity leading to mass production; the third, 1980+, electronics and IT leading to automated production; the fourth, 2010+, digitization and machine intelligence leading to cyber physical fusion.

Mathematics and Statistics is often viewed as an enabling technology that helps, but is in the background for industry. This discipline is very much in the foreground for the fourth industrial revolution. Digitization, which represents information from images, sounds, documents and analogue signals into binary numbers, is largely based on Fourier series. Machine intelligence is fundamentally the encoding of mathematical and statistical algorithms that enable adaption and learning without hard programming.

It is a great time to be a mathematician, statistician, or data scientist. The major advances in this fourth industrial revolution will require the creation and development of new mathematics and statistics. One of the anticipated advances is the advent of autonomous vehicles. The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics has a nice summary page on the mathematics and statistics behind autonomous vehicles on its Math Matters website. Sensor data, which is analysed and fused using the mathematics of Kalman filtering and particle filtering, provides information on the position and velocity of the vehicle. The mathematics of graph theory and dynamic programming and optimization are used to plan the path of the vehicle. One of the fundamental outstanding problems where mathematics will play a vital role is the development of appropriate algorithms for vehicle responses to extreme events.

Our School of Mathematics and Statistics has been developing new programs to train the technology future-shapers for the fourth industrial revolution. We introduced a new undergraduate degree in Data Science and Decisions with its first intake in 2017. We are currently developing postgraduate programs in this area. All of our Data Science programs are multidisciplinary, including courses from three different faculties; Science, Engineering and Business.

Our School continues to create and develop new mathematics and statistics across a range of research programs where we have world-leading expertise. This includes most areas of modern mathematics; algebra, number theory, Bayesian methods, biomathematics, bio- and eco- statistics, combinatorics, computational mathematics, fractional calculus, functional analysis, geometry, harmonic analysis, Monte Carlo methods, nonlinear phenomena, nonparametric statistics, oceanic and atmospheric sciences, optimization, risk analysis, stochastic analysis. We typically host one hundred visitors annually coming from all parts of the world and we regularly host international workshops and conferences.

Our mission is to be the number one provider of mathematics and statistics teaching and research in Australia, and to be among the best globally; creating, discovering, and sharing knowledge for the benefit of humankind. Whether you are a student, an educator, a researcher, a politician or another interested person I welcome you to share our passion in this creation and discovery process.

Professor Bruce Henry, Head, UNSW School of Mathematics and Statistics.