Seeing maths in a new light
19 November 2012
Sydney mathematician Nalini Joshi spends her day working through equations on a chalkboard. But through a unique interactive collaboration with Pondicherry University, she hopes to make new discoveries in Painlevé analysis, a complex system of non-linear equations.
Her partnership with Professor K.M. Tamizhmani in Pondicherry is the first between Australia and India in the field. It has already produced an exchange of lecturers and students between the universities to attend workshops, conferences and lectures.
"To do maths," Professor Joshi says, "we not only need to calculate, we need to talk to people. As a mathematician, I grow ideas by explaining things in conversation face-to-face."
The partnership takes advantage of the different mathematical backgrounds of students and researchers to cultivate new research directions.
"Solutions are often hidden from view, like in a treasure hunt," she says. "Indian students ask questions prompted by their different mathematical point of view, and that helps me discover new ways of explaining things in my research."
Professor Joshi was Sydney's first female mathematics professor. She is now Chair of Applied Mathematics and Associate Head of the School of Mathematics and Statistics. She is about to take up a Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship awarded by the Australian Research Council.
She hopes that her research collaboration will encourage more women to pursue higher studies in maths. "I would like to be a role model for female researchers," she says. "There are so many treasures in maths waiting for a diversity of people to find them, and I hope this collaboration will excite students about the possibilities."
Contact: Richard North
Phone: 02 9351 3191