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November 13, 2023

Mathematics for Climate Change

Posted by John Baez

Some news! I’m now helping lead a new Fields Institute program on the mathematics of climate change.

You may have heard of the Fields Medal, one of the most prestigious math prizes. But the Fields Institute, in Toronto, holds a lot of meetings on mathematics. So when COVID hit, it was a big problem. The director of the institute, Kumar Murty, decided to steer into the wind and set up a network of institutions working on COVID, including projects on the mathematics of infectious disease and systemic risks. This worked well, so now he wants to start a project on the mathematics of climate change. Nathaniel Osgood and I are leading it.

Nate, as I call him, is a good friend and collaborator. He’s a computer scientist at the University of Saskatchewan and, among other things, an expert on epidemiology who helped lead COVID modeling for Canada. We’re currently using category theory to develop a better framework for agent-based models.

Nate and I plan to focus the Fields Institute project not on the geophysics of climate change — e.g., trying to predict how bad global warming will be — but the human response to it — that is, figuring out what we should do! This project will be part of the Fields Institute’s Centre for Sustainable Development.

I’ll have a lot more to say about this. But for now, let me just say: I’m very excited to have this opportunity! Mathematics may not be the main thing we need to battle climate change, but there are important things in this realm that can only be done with the help of math. I know a lot of mathematicians, computer scientists, statisticians and others with quantitative skills want to do something about climate change. I aim to help them do it.

Posted at November 13, 2023 8:36 AM UTC

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Re: Mathematics for Climate Change

Exciting! This year POPL has a workshop: Programming for the Planet (PROPL)

There may be some possibilities for synergy.

Posted by: Bas Spitters on November 13, 2023 5:18 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Mathematics for Climate Change

Yes! I met Anil Madhavapeddy, who is helping organize PROPL, when I went to Cambridge last month. He showed me this thesis of a student of his:

He invited me to attend PROPL (virtually). So I’ll try to do that.

Posted by: John Baez on November 25, 2023 2:35 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Mathematics for Climate Change

Sorry, that website url should have been with a hyphen!

Posted by: James Juniper on November 22, 2023 10:40 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

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