Close
 

100 mathematicians, $36,000 and six real-world problems

  • News
  • June 23, 2015
  • Steven Trask
100 mathematicians, $36,000 and six real-world problems

Since algebra was invented, one question has stumped students and baffled teachers like no other: Will we ever use this stuff in the real world?

Now a hundred of New Zealand’s best and brightest mathematicians are finally getting together to find an answer, or six, at the Mathematics in Industry conference June 29- to July 3.

https://xkcd.com/435/

Picture The Big Bang Theory on steroids: one hundred of our top number crunchers pitted against six real-world problems currently plaguing industrial companies in New Zealand.  

There is no limit to the things this group is willing tackle, from milk powder processing, to clothes dryers, back to milk production, and over to retail theft.

Massey University mathematics professor Graeme Wake is organising the event after a long career solving problems for industry.

New Zealand’s universities are full of researchers who can help businesses, but they are all too often hidden away, Wake says.

“The idea with the conference is we provide industry with access to expertise they haven’t got.

“There is a lot of maths around that they could benefit from, and we are providing this.”

It is easy to see how businesses benefit from this arrangement, but Wake says there is also plenty in it for the researchers.

“We are motivated by the public good, and we owe it to the country to get involved.

“While there is something noble about the intellectual challenge, many companies will also be interested in research contracts down the track.”

With businesses “champing at the bit” to be involved, there are plans to make the conference an annual affair, Wake says.

“Companies realise they need more input from the outside.

“I’m certain this is going to work. It could easily run every year.”

One of the more unique challenges at the conference comes from Eyedentify, a start-up technology company helping retailers and police combat theft.

Eyedentify is trying to design an algorithm that allows retailers to predict, in real-time, which customers are most likely to steal.

Chief executive Phil Thomson says start-up businesses do not always have the expertise to answer complex questions, and it is exciting to find researchers willing and able to help out.  

“It’s difficult, especially for a start-up, to know what is out there.

“We are hoping that by getting more involved in the maths and the data, we will get the building blocks of a really useful algorithm.”

We are motivated by the public good, and we owe it to the country to get involved. While there is something noble about the intellectual challenge, many companies will also be interested in research contracts down the track.

Eyedentify has been welcomed to the conference with open arms, Thomson says.

“We approached [Wake], explained what we were up to, and asked whether it would be interesting.

“He welcomed our challenge as something a bit more unique.”

The KiwiNet (Kiwi Innovation Network), which works to promote commercialisation, is sponsoring the event, after Wake approached it 18 months ago for help getting the concept up and running.

Further funding comes from companies paying $6000 each to get their problems worked on by the mathematicians.

KiwiNet general manager Bram Smith says Mathematics in Industry is an easy fit with KiwiNet’s goal to connect researchers with businesses.  

“From our perspective it fitted really well – researchers and businesses coming together to drive innovation.

“I’m a big fan of anything that encourages people to work together.”

The most important thing about the conference is starting conversations and building relationships, Smith says.

“The challenge is that most companies don’t know how to use the maths.

“With a bit of work they can understand it, and then they can use it to solve their problems.”

The conference is being held at Massey University’s Albany campus in Auckland.

Each company will outline their challenge to the conference, which will then split into six problem-solving groups.

On the last day each group will present a solution, or outline a plan for solving the problem in the future.

The challenges

The conference involves a wide range of businesses, from start-up companies like Eyedentify, to established players like Fonterra and Fisher & Paykel.

Fonterra- Using magnets to remove impurities in a moving stream of milk powder.

Fisher & Paykel -Temperature estimation and control of clothes-dryer temperatures.

Eyedentify – Using big data sets for crime prevention.

Compac - Mechanical and optical systems for fruit sorting.

Transpower- Synchronising renewable resources of energy for the national grid.

Livestock Improvement Corporation- Getting greater value from data on cow herds.

When science meets business

A favourite saying of many university professors is “science is something you do because you love it, not because it pays well”. Here are three examples where collaboration between business and science shows the two aren’t always mutually exclusive.   

Magritek is a New Zealand-born technology company that has now expanded to the United States and Europe. The late Sir Paul Callaghan helped found Magritek in 2004, off the back of 10 years of work by researchers at Victoria and Massey Universities.

Powerbyproxi is a wireless-charging company born from research at the University of Auckland. Powerbypproxi aims to provide unplugged, and unrestricted, power and data solutions.

Precision Seafood Harvesting is a collaboration between Plant & Food Research, Sanford Fisheries, Sealord, and Aotearoa Fisheries. The aim is to develop technology for catching fish alive and in good condition.

Idealog’s favourite maths joke:

100 mathematicians walk into a bar graph…

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

 

Hemp products go beyond the specialty shelves

  • News
  • March 25, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Hemp products go beyond the specialty shelves

Since hemp seeds’ legalisation for growing, manufacture and sale in November 2018, supermarkets have quickly pivoted to include hemp products such as protein powder in their health food and specialty sections, but the trendy ingredient has already found its way into mainstream product categories.

Read more
 
 

No longer just for hippies: Is hemp the next coconut oil?

  • News
  • March 25, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
No longer just for hippies: Is hemp the next coconut oil?

The Naturally Good Expo, held over June 2 – 3 in Sydney, will bring retailers, brands and practitioners together to learn about all things healthy, organic and natural. Among the topics discussed by industry leaders at the expo is the recent legalisation of hemp – it’s popping up everywhere. We asked John Leith of supplier Hemp Oz and speaker Susan Tapper of Holistic Marketing Healthy Sales for more information about this exciting new product category.

Read more
 
 

Military-style semi-automatics ban announced

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • The Register team
Military-style semi-automatics ban announced

As of 3pm on March 21, a wide range of semi-automatic weapons have been reclassified under section 74A(c) of the Arms Act as requiring an E endorsement on a firearms license. This means they can no longer be sold to those with A-category gun licenses, and their purchase now requires police approval.

Read more
 

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

 
topics
Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Sisterhood
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...
 

Retailers gather for insights at NZ Retail and The Register's breakfast

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • The Register
Retailers gather for insights at NZ Retail and The Register's breakfast

NZ Retail and The Register’s sales and marketing breakfast saw dozens of Kiwi retailers come together to network, sharing tips and tricks and absorbing expert advice.

Read more
 
 

Who stole Christmas?

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • Kelly Withers
Who stole Christmas?

Results are starting to trickle in from Christmas 2018/2019, and for many retailers, they're a little disappointing. Paydar chief executive and co-founder Kelly Withers explores the data.

Read more
 

Chinese businesspeople raise millions for Christchurch victims

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Chinese businesspeople raise millions for Christchurch victims

A group of visiting Chinese businesspeople have raised $2.35 million for victims of the Christchurch mass shooting.

Read more
 
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise
The Register

editor@theregister.co.nz

Content marketing/advertising? Email anita.hayhoe@icg.co.nz or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit

}