The speed of a rumour
Pure mathematics is all about the long game, according to mathematician and alumna Karen Gunderson.
You hope that some of the ideas that you have now, someday, will help people to answer a real-world problem in the future,” says Gunderson, still in the early years of her career as an assistant professor in the mathematics department in the Faculty of Science. “You hope that when you’re not so focussed on a particular real world problem, your mind is a little freer to be imaginative and creative. You might come up with ideas that people wouldn’t see if they were too focused on a particular application. Maybe you can see a more general structure of what’s going on.”
Gunderson works within the fields of graph theory and combinatorics. Graph theory is the study of networks – systems of nodes with links between nodes. Combinatorics encompasses both the mathematics of counting (not necessarily just large sets) and the study of finite structures such as systems of sets.