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Mathematics plays a crucial role in understanding all sorts of subjects such as science, music, social studies and even art. The study of mathematics helps people to learn better problem solving skills and serves as a way to help humans organize and think logically.

Mathematics Day is here to celebrate and appreciate everything that this discipline has to offer to individuals and to the world at large.

History of Mathematics Day

Originating in India, the day is particularly centered around one man. In fact, the reason Mathematics Day is set on December 22 is because it is the birthday of the country’s most respected mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan. A math genius of the highest degree, Ramanujan was born in 1887 and spent his life under British rule in India.

In spite of the fact that he had almost no training in mathematics, Ramanujan made some important contributions to the discipline, including number theory, infinite series, mathematical analysis, and continued fractions.

Ramanujan’s original mathematical research and theories were born in isolation, as his work was far too advanced and novel for the mathematicians of his day to work with him. However, through correspondence with an English math professor at the University of Cambridge, Ramanujan became more connected and eventually moved to England and became the first Indian Fellow at Trinity College in Cambridge.

Ramanujan’s life was cut short at age 32 when he died in 1920 of complications from a disease he had earlier in his childhood. Even after his death, his contributions were important, especially when a lost notebook of his was found more than 50 years after his death, in 1976.

Now, Mathematics Day is here to appreciate and celebrate the life of Srinivasa Ramanujan and his contributions to the world. The introduction of Mathematics Day by the Indian government happened in 2011, in the lead up to what would be the celebration of the125th anniversary of Ramanujan’s birth in 2012. That same year, the Indian government released a commemorative stamp in his honor.

Mathematics Day Timeline

6th Century BC

Mathematics has some firsts

Thales is the first person to have a mathematical discovery that is named after him. Also during this time, the term “mathematics” begins use by the Pythagoreans.[1]

4th Century BC

Multiplication tables are used in China

Archaeologists have evidence that multiplication tables are used during this time, made of bamboo and it’s the first of its kind to offer a base of 10. [2]

15th Century

First printed math books

In a village near Treviso, Italy, an unknown author is a math teacher who prints a book called Treviso Arithmetic.[3]

1999

The term “Mathlete” is introduced

Started by the MATHCOUNTS Foundation in the US, the term (a registered trademark) defines a person who competes in math competitions.[4]

2001

Abel Prize is established

Offering an alternative to the Nobel prize, the Abel prize is named after an early 19th century Norwegian mathematician, Niels Abel, who died at age 26. [5]

How to Celebrate Mathematics Day

Enjoy the beauty and excitement of numbers and everything they have to offer in the world by celebrating Mathematics Day. Try out some of these fun and interesting ideas for enjoying the day:

Do Some Mathematics

For those people who have brains that are bent toward math, Mathematics Day would be the perfect time to get engaged in some mathematical problems and solutions – just for fun! Kids and adults alike can find a variety of different online websites that allow for practicing and learning math skills, from the most basic problems to advanced math like calculus, trigonometry and more.

Watch a Movie About Mathematics

Although to some people math might seem like a boring subject, it can come with all sorts of interesting drama and intrigue! In honor of Mathematics Day, perhaps it would be fun to watch some entertaining stories about different ways that math has been central to stories.

Check out some of these movies with stories that revolve around math:

  • The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015). This British biopic tells the story of the man who this day is celebrated for, Srinivasa Ramanujan. Starring Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons, this film is based on the 1991 book of the same name. 
  • Hidden Figures (2016). Following three brilliant African American women who are gifted in mathematics and work in the space program at NASA, this story is based on true happenings. Starring Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe and Taraji P. Henson. 
  • Gifted (2017). A single dad is raising a child prodigy who is a 7-year old with remarkable mathematical ability, meaning that intellectually she’s on a college level but her dad still wants her to be a normal kid. 
  • A Brilliant Young Mind (2014). Based on the story of a real-life mathematical genius, this British film was released as X + Y in the UK. The story features a boy who has Autism Spectrum Disorder, is more comfortable with numbers than people, and is invited to participate in the International Mathematical Olympiad. 

Read the Biography of Srinivasa Ramanujan

Those who want to learn even more about the life of Srinivasa Ramanujan, the most notable Indian mathematician in history, can read The Man Who Knew Infinity. Written in 1991 by Robert Kanigel, this book offers a detailed story of Ramanujan’s life, including his upbringing in India and his relationship and collaboration through English mathematics with G.H. Hardy from Cambridge University.

Tell Some Silly Math Jokes

In celebration of Mathematics Day, give friends, family members or students a little bit of a chuckle by sharing some fun jokes that are about math! Make people laugh with some of these jokes to get started:

  • Why was the triangle so adorable? Because it had acute angles.
  • Do you know what seems odd to me? Numbers that aren’t divisible by two.
  • What did the triangle say to the circle? You’re pointless.
  • Did you hear about the mathematician who is afraid of negative numbers? He’ll stop at nothing to avoid them.

Use Math in Everyday Life

Many people don’t realize how important mathematics is to just about everything they do! In honor of National Mathematics Day, spend the day looking around and observing ways that math is involved in life and the world around you.

For instance, math is a critical part of baking and cooking, whether using fractions or weights and measures. Or think about how important math is in creating the programs and apps that work on computers, smartphones, smart televisions. And the math that goes into the computers that help run machinery or even just for telling time is critical for everyday life!

Make Math Fun!

Teachers of mathematics in school have a prime opportunity to take advantage of Mathematics Day by celebrating the idea of math and making it super fun. Choose to have fun lessons that are active and exciting, host a mathematics competition, decorate with math themes, and generally just celebrate the way that math has a place in so many different aspects of life.

Mathematics Day FAQs

Are mathematicians scientists?

Math and science are closely linked, but most mathematicians do not consider themselves to be scientists. [1]

What does a mathematician do?

Mathematicians work on challenges and problems in all sorts of industries including medicine, robotics, security, climate, space, and businesses. [2]

How to become a mathematician?

A mathematician typically needs a bachelor’s degree or higher in math or a related field. [3]

Are mathematicians in demand?

Jobs in the field of mathematics seem to be growing much faster than the average rate. [4]

Can mathematicians work at NASA?

Yes, mathematicians at NASA solve problems, create models and demonstrate complex processes.[5]

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