Maths in Society Lecture Series

Organized by TUM Mathematics Students

9 June 2021 18:00
Maths in Society - Lecture Series - leaflet

Three master's students from the Department of Mathematics of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) are organizing the lecture series "Maths in Society" with support of the Dean of Studies, Professor Nina Gantert. They want to highlight the extensive role Mathematics play in solving issues across diverse fields (be it, environment, politics, AI, finance etc.) and provide a platform to discuss the scope of Mathematics in the same.

About "Math in Society"

"Maths in Society" is an initiative led by the graduate students Diego Mediel, Manya Srivastava, and Ipek Tuncel of our Department. Inspired by the organization started by Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute, they plan to periodically invite researchers and professionals at TUM to discuss their work in the realm of mathematical research that addresses various societal issues.

"We believe that this lecture series would stimulate graduate students towards impactful research, encourage interdisciplinary learning, and promote cross-departmental collaborations. Especially, given the restrictions due to the pandemic, we believe the event will increase interaction between students and researchers.", the organizers tell.

Data collaboratives and big data for social good

Prof. Albert Ali Salah

9 June 2021, 18:00

Prof. Albert Ali Salah, Professor of Social and Affective Computing, Department of Information and Computing Sciences, Utrecht University 


New sources of human behavior data can empower humanitarian projects, but they need to be carefully handled, properly anonymized and aggregated. In this talk, I will discuss the potential benefits and risks of data collaboratives for social good. Data collaboratives are public-private partnerships for data sharing and both legal and ethical aspects are very important for these initiatives. I will give examples from the Data for Refugees (D4R) Challenge, which was a non-profit challenge initiated to improve the conditions of the Syrian refugees in Turkey by providing a special database to the scientific community for enabling research on urgent problems concerning refugees, including health, education, unemployment, safety, and social integration. Collected from 1 million telecommunications customers over a one-year period, the mobile CDR database shows the activity and movement of refugees and citizens over the entire country. I will also briefly describe the Hummingbird Horizon2020 project that started last year, which uses similar mobile data to investigate irregular migration.

Albert Ali Salah is professor and chair of Social and Affective Computing at the Information and Computing Sciences Department of Utrecht University, and adjunct professor at the Department of Computer Engineering of Boğaziçi University. He has co-authored over 200 publications on pattern recognition, multimodal interfaces, and computer analysis of human behavior. He serves as a Steering Board member of ACM ICMI, IEEE FG, and eNTERFACE, as an associate editor of journals including IEEE Trans. on Cognitive and Developmental Systems, IEEE Trans. Affective Computing, and Int. Journal on Human-Computer Studies. Albert was the scientific coordinator of the Data for Refugees (D4R) Challenge that used large scale mobile data to improve the living conditions of millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey. He is a senior research affiliate of DataPop Alliance, a senior member of IEEE and ACM, and he is on Twitter (@SzassTam).

Who is "Maths in Society" aimed at?

The lecture series is primarily aimed towards graduate students with a mathematics background. Nevertheless, we encourage students and researchers from all departments to attend the lectures to explore different avenues of learning. We look forward to having you for our events!

We will announce further details here shortly. To receive regular updates and Zoom links for the lecture series, register with this form.

Previous "Math in Society" events

Round Table: Networks everywhere, The Mathematics of the Heart, Traffic Guard, and Mathematics of Porous Media

19 May 2021, 18:00

Roundtable jointly organized with the Institute of Mathematics and Applications (IUMA), University of Zaragoza, Spain

Prof. Ernesto Estrada

Networks everywhere

Prof. Ernesto Estrada


The use of networks to represent the "skeleton" of complex systems is ubiquitous nowadays across the sciences. A network represents the entities of the system as nodes and the interrelation among them are represented as edges interconnecting the nodes. These networks account for a variety of systems at different size-scales ranging from social, infrastructural and ecological to cellular and molecular systems in biology. 

In this talk I will introduce the topic by illustrating a collection of problems and their solutions from a mathematical perspective. They include, for instance, the problem of representation of different kinds of systems, particularly ecological ones, and the use of different kinds of networks. Another structural problem is related to the characterization of the "importance" of nodes in a network, know as node centrality. 

I will illustrate the problem on the basis of detecting essential proteins in a proteome. I will mention the problem of network robustness to random failures and intentional attacks, particularly in infrastructural systems, and will finish this section with the analysis of communication in networks illustrated by the study of brain connectome. Other problems are related to the dynamics on networks. I will give some examples of synchronization in biological systems, diffusion on social networks and epidemics propagation at different scales, all illustrated by real-world examples.

Prof. Esther Pueyo

The Mathematics of the Heart

Prof. Esther Pueyo


Cardiovascular diseases represent the first cause of death in Europe, accounting for 45% of all deaths. The way the cardiovascular system, and particularly the heart, have been investigated so far is remarkably changing. Mathematics, together with other disciplines like physics and engineering, are ever more being used to help in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

In this talk, I will describe how mathematics can be key to understand the function of the heart. I will show examples where mathematical modeling and numerical simulation have been combined with clinical and experimental research to derive novel tools that can be used by cardiologists to improve medical decision-making. Additionally, I will show how mathematical methods can be integrated into the construction of personalized digital hearts to have virtual replicas where to test novel therapies or to be used for the prediction of abnormal cardiac behavior. 

Román Guerra

Román Guerra

Traffic Guard: two different mathematical views of a public / private successful collaboration project

Román Guerra and Prof. Ruben Vigara


Román Guerra is Artificial Vision Manager in Lector Vision (LV), a Spanish company that applies Computer Vision (CV) algorithms worldwide to Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS).

Prof. Ruben Vigara

Prof. Ruben Vigara

Rubén Vigara, from Universidad de Zaragoza (UNIZAR), is an expert in low-dimensional topology, a research field far away from daily life problems. Since 2015 both mathematicians have collaborated in a successful research project in which UNIZAR team developed and coded CV algorithms for new LV products. We present this project from their two different viewpoints.

Prof. Carmen Rodrigo

Mathematics of Porous Media

Prof. Carmen Rodrigo


We are interested in problems related to fluid flow through deformable and/or fractured porous media. These problems appear in many areas of application such as geothermal energy extraction, petroleum engineering, CO2 storage, hydraulic fracturing or cancer research, among many others.

The numerical simulation of this type of problems has become a topic of increasing importance, and with this purpose the study of appropriate discretization techniques and the design of efficient solution methods have to be investigated. Robust discretizations with respect to the physical parameters are needed for this type of problems to obtain reliable numerical solutions. Another important aspect in the numerical simulation of these problems deals with the efficient solution of the large systems of algebraic equations obtained after discretization, since this is the most consuming part when real simulations are performed.

The Future of Mathematics in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Prof. Dr. Gitta Kutyniok

26 May 2021, 18:00

Prof. Dr. Gitta Kutyniok, Bavarian AI Chair for Mathematical Foundations of Artificial Intelligence, LMU Munich


We currently witness the impressive success of artificial intelligence (AI) in real-world applications, ranging from science to public life. Such type of approaches often outperforms classical model-based and mathematically founded approaches. At the same time, AI methods such as deep learning still lack a profound theoretical understanding, sometimes even being referred to as "alchemy". This poses an enormous challenge to, but also a tremendous chance for mathematics as a field.

The goal of this lecture is to first provide an introduction into this research area. We will then focus on two aspects. We first ask: What is the future of areas such as inverse problems or partial differential equations, whose change can already by now be observed, and why are hybrid methods such important? We will discuss this also based on several examples. Second, we will show to which extent mathematics can contribute to this new world of artificial intelligence, and how in turn this might also change mathematics.

Cryptography for Transparent Society

Professor Kazue Sako

1st June 2021, 12:00 pm

Prof. Kazue Sako, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Waseda University, Japan


Digital society is built heavily on information and communication technology (ICT). However, programs running on computers are invisible, thus it is difficult to observe when these technologies are being misused, harming individuals and society. 

Cryptography studies mechanisms to control information flow or restrict certain procedures within a network of systems. Moreover, it provides verification means to ensure that each entity is behaving according to a predetermined set of rules. Therefore, they are important tools for designing secure and fair systems and bring transparency in digital society. Mathematics is necessary to make sure that cryptographic protocols and primitives achieve the designed criteria.