Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/K040251/1
Funder Contribution: 1,157,930 GBP
Partners: D-RisQ Ltd, JacobsUni, UWO, QMUL, Institute of Mathematics and its Applica, Smith Institute, LMS, SU, MICROSOFT RESEARCH LIMITED, DECC...
Mathematics is a profound intellectual achievement with impact on all aspects of business and society. For centuries, the highest level of mathematics has been seen as an isolated creative activity, to produce a proof for review and acceptance by research peers. Mathematics is now at a remarkable inflexion point, with new technology radically extending the power and limits of individuals. "Crowdsourcing" pulls together diverse experts to solve problems; symbolic computation tackles huge routine calculations; and computers check proofs that are just too long and complicated for any human to comprehend, using programs designed to verify hardware. Yet these techniques are currently used in stand-alone fashion, lacking integration with each other or with human creativity or fallibility. Social machines are new paradigm, identified by Berners-Lee, for viewing a combination of people and computers as a single problem-solving entity. Our long-term vision is to change mathematics, transforming the reach, pace, and impact of mathematics research, through creating a mathematics social machine: a combination of people, computers, and archives to create and apply mathematics. Thus, for example, an industry researcher wanting to design a network with specific properties could quickly access diverse research skills and research; explore hypotheses; discuss possible solutions; obtain surety of correctness to a desired level; and create new mathematics that individual effort might never imagine or verify. Seamlessly integrated "under the hood" might be a mixture of diverse people and machines, formal and informal approaches, old and new mathematics, experiment and proof. The obstacles to realising the vision are that (i) We do not have a high level understanding of the production of mathematics by people and machines, integrating the current diverse research approaches (ii) There is no shared view among the diverse re- search and user communities of what is and might be possible or desirable The outcome of the fellowship will be a new vision of a mathematics social machine, transforming the reach, pace and impact of mathematics. It will deliver: analysis and experiment to understand current and future production of mathematics as a social machine; designs and prototypes; ownership among academic and industry stakeholders; a roadmap for delivery of the next generation of social machines; and an international team ready to make it a reality.