Playing with Math---- Celebrating the International Mathematics Day

March 19, 2024

On the afternoon of March 13th, the School of Mathematics and Physics at Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) held a student-staff interactive activity, celebrating March 14th, the International Day of Mathematics. The event, themed "Play with Math," attracted an impressive turnout of nearly a hundred attendees, consisting of the university's esteemed teachers and their intelligent students. The gathering showcased a thrilling spectacle of mathematical puzzles and games, highlighting the immense joy one can derive from the world of numbers and geometrical shapes.

The event was hosted by Dr Gang Liu, Deputy Dean of the School of Mathematics and Physics, and Dr Jinsong Xu from the Department of Pure Mathematics, which students from all grades in the School of Mathematics and Physics enthusiastically attended.

During the event, every game and puzzle fully demonstrated the beauty of mathematical thinking and problem-solving, including the Buffon's Needle problem, the Art Gallery problem, the Map Coloring and Finding Euler path, and the classic Towers of Hanoi game. These games and puzzles exhibited the beauty of mathematics and the links to fun games in life to the participants engagingly and intriguingly.

Yixiang Fei, a junior majored in Applied Mathematics, experienced two math games shortly after the event began and shared, "These math games are not only interesting but also accessible. I could feel the mathematical principles behind them when I was playing the games, and some of the games in this event were more innovative and not quite the same as some of the ones I had played before." He believes that these math games made him feel the relationship between math and life more tangibly and made him realize that math is not nebulous but about the little things in life.

Sangni Zhang, an Applied Mathematics sophomore, was also very focused on several games. She was excited to share that this was her first time successfully challenging the Fifteen puzzle. By playing the map colouring game, she further consolidated her knowledge in class.

Students from the School of Mathematics and Physics also shared that the math games at the event were fun and easy to play, allowing students to exercise their minds while experiencing the charm of math.

Not only students from the School of Mathematics and Physics were actively involved in the games, but also students from other majors. Yuzhuo Jin, a junior majoring in Architecture, participated in the games of the Art Museum and the Fortress Problem. He was excited to discover that many math games do not require a deep foundation in Math, but rather an exercise in thinking. "I easily solved the Art Museum and Fort problem and found its optimal solution." Yuzhuo also mentioned, "This activity made me start looking at problems with a mathematical perspective again and discover some of the fascination of math.

"This event allowed the XJTLU students to exercise their minds and inspire the mathematical minds behind the game. Dr Jinsong Xu of the Department of Pure Mathematics said the purpose of this event is to let students all participate in mathematics, feel the charm of mathematics, and stimulate interest in learning.

This is the first outdoor activity organised by the School of Mathematics and Physics at XJTLU. This event responds to the activities organised by IMAGINARY, a subsidiary of the International Mathematical Union dedicated to the popularisation and dissemination of mathematics. IMAGINARY has been launching an annual commemoration of International Mathematics Day since 2020, and this year marks the fifth time.

The School of Mathematics and Physics will continue to launch activities, such as the demonstration of mathematical models, watching movies related to mathematics and so on. It is believed that with the active support of students and teachers, such activities will enable the XJTLU students to discover and feel the beauty of mathematics.

By Ziyou Zhu

Translated, and edited by Qinru Liu

Photos by Qinru Liu

Materials provided by Dr Jinsong Xu

March 19, 2024