Failing to decode National Mathematics Day

National Mathematics Day is coming. And because this year is the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing, the day focuses on codes and code-breaking.

That much is established. However I’m finding it difficult to work out who decided what day should be the Mathematics Day, or even what day the Day is – with various websites saying 18 May and others saying 20 May and yet others 21 May.

Some assiduous digging seems to reveal that the day is organised by the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers – whose website doesn’t even give a date. Dig further and you find that the date appears to be Friday 18 May, or at least that’s the date mentioned most often. It’s not easy to pry this information out with a Google search giving a range of hits for various regional mathematical sites. On top of quoting different dates half of them link to the wrong places to get further information.

After wasting spending 30 minutes amongst the confusion, I truly began to wonder whether this wasn’t some elaborate homage to Alan Turning and the year’s decoding theme. Was there some code buried amongst the broken links and varying dates? There may possibly be. If so it’s going to remain buried as far as I’m concerned. I just need someone to show me the answers in the back of the book.

In a different context, Alan Turing is quoted as having said something that seems terribly appropriate to National Mathematics Day right now:

We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.

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