Mathematical Teaching and Olympiads

This project proposes to act in favor of the improvement of mathematical education at all levels and of the increase in the number of new researchers in Mathematics. In order to accomplish this, the following actions are proposed:


Teams and Interlocutors

Elon L. Lima, P. C. P. Carvalho e colaboradores


Agreement with RNP (National Research Network)

Maximum efficiency in collaboration and teaching requires the adequate use of communication and connectivity resources provided by modern wide-band networks. For this reason, the Millennium Institute in Mathematics established a strategic partnership with the National Research Network - RNP. As a consequence, this project will be able to take advantage of the Internet access infrastructure established by project RNP2, that started the implementation of the Brazilian high performance network, began in 1997. The current capacity of the national backbone (up to 155 Mbps) and its connection to the backbone of the Internet2 will make it possible to fulfill the goals of national and international collaboration, including the use of videoconference resources and broadcasting of audio and video. Connectivity with other countries in Latin America is also supported, by means of the 45 Mbps link between Rio de Janeiro and Florida International University, where the high-speed networks of the American countries will meet. Today, Brazil and Chile are already part of this initiative - called Americas Path (AmPath) - and the other countries? connections are under way.


Substantial Improvement of the Infra-structure for Scientific Information and Diffusion

Information technology will be used, in partnership with RNP (National Research Network), to foster national and international scientific collaboration and diffusion. Material generated in courses, talks and research meetings held at IMPA and other institutions will be made available in the Internet, with the support of a technical team, that will assist researchers in producing materials in several media, both written (pre-prints, transparencies) and audio-visual (videos of talks and short-courses). Special interest talks will also be broadcast in real time, using RNP?s backbone and equipment.


Increase in the Number of Masters and Doctors in Mathematics and its Applications

The number of masters and doctors that graduate each year in Brazil is not sufficient for the needs of the country, especially taking into account the increasing demand created by new areas of application. This project will give incentive to the creation of new graduate programs, through the support given to emerging institutions and to programs directed to students in related areas.


Improvement of Mathematical Education at the College Level

Focus, here, is in offering courses and other activities for undergraduate students in Mathematics and its areas of application, with the purpose of preparing them for more advanced studies. These activities will be primarily scheduled for the months of January, February and July (during school vacations in Brazil). Examples of successful programs with these features are the summer programs held at IMPA and LNCC and the Brazilian Mathematics Colloquium. The proposed strategy has two main points:


Increase in the number of courses and other activities

Courses will be offered to meet several goals: Standard Courses Their purpose is to prepare undergraduate students to continue their studies in Mathematics at higher levels (for example, by taking basic courses in Analysis) or to help remediate the background in Mathematics of students coming from weaker programs. Courses Dealing with Applications of Mathematics These deal, in particular, with computational mathematics, with applications to several fields. They fill an important gap in the background of students in many programs. Courses Dealing with Emerging Areas of Application These have the goal to provide background in Mathematics for students in the new areas of application - such as Biology - in order to make it easier for them to interact with students from the more traditional areas, such as Engineering and Computer Science.


Use of distance learning, to increase the reach of the programs to national levels

Selected courses of the programs of participating institutions will be offered in two versions: traditional or by distance learning, in collaboration of other college and universities throughout Brazil. Video-conferencing, using the infrastructure provided by RNP, will be used. Equipment available at RNP will be used to build videoconference rooms at IMPA, LNCC and other institutions throughout Brazil, in such a way that students from all regions have an opportunity to participate in these activities.


Publication of text-books

Incentive will be given to the writing of new texts in Portuguese at college level, focusing, in particular, the interface between Mathematics and Computer Science, and applications to less traditional areas, such as Biology. These books may be published in existing series (such as IMPA's Projeto Euclides or SBM's Mathematics and Computing) or in newly created series.


Training Programs for School Teachers

Training qualified teachers for elementary and secondary schools is one of the main challenges faced by Brazilian society as a whole and by colleges and universities in particular. This challenge is even greater in the case of Mathematics, where teacher-training deficiencies are well known.

This projects proposes the execution of nation-wide teacher-training programs that take, as starting points, programs that are already successful at regional level, as the one conducted by E. Lages Lima and collaborators. Courses for teachers, both traditional and at distance, will be offered in January and July, using videoconference and Internet resources. Videoconference rooms will be established in participating institutions in several states, and local professors will be involved in the training. Special attention will be given to the participation of students in teacher-training undergraduate programs, in order to contribute for the emergence of a new generation of better qualified teachers that are, furthermore, well aware of the contemporary applications of Mathematics.


Mathematical Olympiads

Mathematical competitions have an enormous potential for arising the interest of young students, attracting new talent and contributing for the perception of the creative character of Mathematics. Nowadays, about 200.000 students over 4.000 schools take part each year in the Brazilian Mathematical Olympiads. Our goal is to increase substantially this level of participation to get closer to other countries' figures (for instance, the Kangourou competition, in France, has 500.000 participants). In order to do that, support will be given to regional competitions and diffusion events, featuring talks directed to schools students and their teachers.