I don’t think it’s helpful, either to the mathematicians at Leicester who may be about to lose their jobs, to the health of mathematical research at Leicester, or to the mathematical community in the UK, to frame this as a “pure” versus “applied” conflict: it is not. I’m sure you’re aware that both the LMS and the IMA wrote to the VC at Leicester criticising this proposal, for example. There is certainly a perception outside the community that mathematics and mathematicians are split into these two incompatible areas, and that perception leads to the mistaken belief that one part can be removed without affecting the other, as is proposed at Leicester. Perpetuating that division reinforces the case that the Leicester VC is using. I think it would be more helpful, and more accurate, to emphasise the unity of mathematics and the damage done to mathematics and mathematicians by creating divisions, either from the outside as in the Leicester case, or from the inside.

]]>One problem seems to be that the guy wielding the axe and doing the VC’s bidding thinks of himself as a kind of mathematician, and is highly “cited” (e.g. applying algorithms to produce “rostering for nurses”). And the Head of Department is definitely a mathematician – if of the “applied” kind (fluids – which I am in no position to judge).

So it looks from here as though Pure Mathematicians have been asleep at the wheel – politely and uncritically allowing “kinds of mathematics” to rise without comment, that have now shown their true colours.

Time to wake up?

]]>Yeah well, you could also just fire the chancellor and replace them with someone that would work for much less money, universities could save money that way. Universities have far more administrators compared to the academic staff since they become corporatized under the justification of “efficiency”.

]]>I would argue that it is you who have not learned that economic principles apply to everybody, that includes academics and the subset that is mathematicians. The world does not owe academics a living.

It is an archaic form of employment contract that forces Leicester University to sack its entire mathematics department, and then rehire everybody minus six.

I’m sure that mathematicians will point to the economic value of some work of earlier mathematicians, and use this to justify their view that they should be employed to do mathematical research. The fact that in earlier times there were many fewer mathematicians, and their funding was a lot less generous than it is today, never seems to get mentioned.

I think the way forward is to go back to governments funding prizes for discoveries. People can still do mathematics to their hearts content, but the taxpayer gets a more direct say in what problems get the attention.

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