SMS scnews item created by Hannah Bryant at Mon 22 Apr 2024 1558
Type: Seminar
Modified: Thu 9 May 2024 1517; Thu 9 May 2024 1518; Thu 9 May 2024 1539; Thu 9 May 2024 1543; Thu 9 May 2024 1544
Distribution: World
Expiry: 22 Oct 2024
Calendar1: 29 May 2024 1730-1930
CalLoc1: Social Science Building Lecture Theatre 200
CalTitle1: SMRI Public Lecture by Po-Shen Loh - ’Using maths to invent solutions to large-scale human problems, just in time to survive AI’ - - SMRI Special Semester - Perspectives on Mathematics: Its Humanity, Culture, & Communication
Auth: hannahb@ (hbry8683) in SMS-SAML

Public Lecture by Po-Shen Loh - SMRI Special Semester - Perspectives on Mathematics: Its Humanity, Culture, & Communication -- ’Using maths to invent solutions to large-scale human problems, just in time to survive AI’

Perspectives on Mathematics: Its Humanity, Culture, and Communication 

SMRI Public Lecture: ’Using maths to invent solutions to large-scale human problems,
just in time to survive AI’ 

Location: University of Sydney, Camperdown Campus 

Social Sciences Building (A02) - SSB Lecture Theatre 200 

Date and Time: 

Wednesday May 29th, 2024 

Lecture: 5:30-6:30pm / Canapes & Drinks: 6:30-7:30pm 


Description: "Why are we learning this?" - the dreaded question often received by
mathematics educators is addressed in this public lecture by Po-Shen Loh moderated by
Francis Su, both visitors at the Sydney Mathematical Research Institute.  

Abstract: In this public lecture, the speaker will share his story of using his
maths-professor background to devise new solutions to two practical problems that affect
our whole society: disease control and education.  The mathematical areas of network
theory and game theory feature as inspirations in his work.  During the COVID lockdown,
he invented an app
which addresses the incentive misalignment problem intrinsic in contact tracing: in the
traditional approach, people are asked to isolate to protect others against infection,
not to save themselves.  

Po-Shen has also been working for a decade at the intersection of education and
technology.  His latest creation is a new, highly-scalable ecosystem for teaching
secondary school students how to invent their own solutions to unfamiliar (maths)
problems, powered by a unique incentive alignment structure that involves professionally
trained actors and comedians collaborating with maths stars
(  This comes
just in time, as the rise of AI necessitates more advanced skills.  

This talk will be accessible to all backgrounds.  

About the Speaker: Po-Shen Loh is a social entrepreneur and inventor, working across the
spectrum of mathematics, education, and healthcare, all around the world.  He holds a
PhD from Princeton University and is a mathematics professor at Carnegie Mellon
University.  He served a decade-long term as the national coach of the USA International
Mathematical Olympiad team from 2013-2023.  He has pioneered innovations ranging from a
scalable way to learn challenging math live online at comparable engagement to
live-streaming entertainment, to a new way to control pandemics by leveraging
self-interest.  His work has appeared in national and international media, from ABC
News, to the Wall Street Journal, CNN, the Straits Times, and more.  

As an academic, Po-Shen has earned distinctions ranging from an International
Mathematical Olympiad silver medal to the United States Presidential Early Career Award
for Scientists and Engineers.  His scientific research considers a variety of questions
that lie at the intersection of combinatorics (the study of discrete systems),
probability theory, and computer science.  As an educator, he was the coach of the USA
Math Olympiad team when it achieved its first-ever back-to-back #1-rank victories in
2015 and 2016, and then again in 2018 and 2019.  His research and educational outreach
takes him to cities across the world, reaching over 10,000 people each year through
public lectures and events, and he has featured in or co-created videos totalling over
21 million YouTube views.  

About the Moderator: Francis Su is the Benediktsson-Karwa Professor of Mathematics at
Harvey Mudd College and a past president of the Mathematical Association of America.
His research is in geometric and topological combinatorics and applications to the
social sciences.  His work has been featured in Quanta Magazine, Wired, and The New York
Times.  His book Mathematics for Human Flourishing, winner of the 2021 Euler Book Prize,
has been translated into 8 languages.  It is an inclusive vision of what math is, who
it’s for, and why anyone should learn it.  

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