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24 May 2024

Global Discoveries in Mathematics Explored

Opening on 4 June 2024, It All Adds Up: Global Discoveries in Maths will explore and celebrate the ingenuity of the human mind, and world-wide contributions to mathematics as we know it today.

A geometric earths on a blue background

Conceived and designed by students and academics from King’s Department of Mathematics, Faculty of Natural, Mathematical & Engineering Sciences, working in collaboration with artist Zarah Hussain, It All Adds Up offers an introduction to the evolution of mathematics, and the incredible minds that helped to shape the way we understand it today.

Visitors to It All Adds Up will encounter the contributions of mathematicians from across the globe; from the unsung genius of Madhava in Kerala, India to the measurement of the earth in Egypt; from magic squares in Korea, to base twenty in Belize; and the incredible hunt for the elusive ‘einstein shape’ will take them from the sun-drenched palaces of Spain to a seaside town in Yorkshire.

Celebrated artist Zarah Hussain, whose practise integrates the pattern-making abilities of conventional mathematics with modern art, has worked with the team at King’s to create this interactive discovery space. Two of Zarah’s own artworks will also feature, demonstrating the beauty of geometric patterns and the places where art and maths meet, with incredible outcomes.

A world-wide perspective

Dr John Armstrong, Reader in Financial Mathematics, and Dr Eleni Alexandra Kontou, Lecturer in Theoretical Physics at King’s, worked alongside a group of Maths students to conceive and propose this public experience to highlight the global evolution of maths.

‘There’s a myth that maths was created by Europeans. It All Adds Up explodes this myth by celebrating mathematical contributions from across the world,’ Dr John Armstrong explains.

 ‘When we teach algebra or arithmetic we rarely talk about where the ideas came from. A key message of our exhibition is that all mathematical knowledge was created by people, and everyone is welcome to help create the mathematics of the future. We’ve tried to reflect this in creating It All Adds Up, which has been a process of collaboration between an artist, our students, and maths academics. This has led us to explore areas of maths that are culturally meaningful to someone in our team: whether that is the religious significance of tiling in Islamic art, or the abacus as a physical symbol of Chinese mathematics.

 ‘There is also one further message in the exhibition,’ Dr John Armstrong concludes. ‘The development of mathematics has been shaped by culture and has shaped culture in return. Nevertheless, mathematical truth is universal. I hope that our visitors can take some inspiration from how the pursuit of mathematical truth has united us, even across cultures and across time.’

It All Adds Up: Global Discoveries in Maths will run from 4-26 June in the Discovery Space, Bush House, Strand, WC2B 4PJ. Open from 10am-6pm, Monday-Friday (Free).

This experience is free and open to people of all ages, and of particular interest to secondary school students in Years 9-11. It All Adds Up: Global Discoveries in Maths is produced and supported by King's Culture and funded by The Race Equity Inclusive Education Fund at King's. 

In this story

John Armstrong

Reader in Financial Mathematics

Eleni-Alexandra  Kontou

Lecturer in Theoretical Physics