SIAM News Blog

Acting in the Ecosystem of Applied Mathematics in Colombia

By Carlos Díez

The Colombia Section of SIAM (CoSIAM) models its range of actions as the first octant of a Cartesian space, framed in three axes. The first axis corresponds to the section’s target audience: undergraduate students, graduate students, and professionals. The second axis addresses the areas of action: motivation, training, research, and networking. And the third axis comprises the sectors that CoSIAM hopes to impact: academia and the real world.

Within this framework, the section’s operational plan envisages several events that have even commenced—with some necessary adjustments—during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (see Figure 1).

The oldest of these events is the Math Modeling Challenge, a competition during which teams of undergraduate and graduate students from different universities and programs use mathematics and computer science techniques to solve real-world problems under time and resource constraints. This methodology promotes multidisciplinary work and enriches participants’ teamwork and project development skills. It also introduces students to a variety of angles and potential solutions to important societal issues. This year’s challenge—which focused on a problem related to stochastic dynamical systems—took place completely virtually and attracted 16 teams for a total of 62 individuals from various regions of Colombia. Several days before the event, participating students can access a massive open online course that is related to the topic of the forthcoming problem. These courses are available on CoSIAM’s YouTube channel

Readers who wish to learn more about CoSIAM’s Math Modeling Challenge can view our recent article that was published in Mathematics, titled “SIAM-Colombia MMC: A Challenge-based Math Modeling Learning Strategy” [1]. 

Figure 1. Examples of three activities that the Colombia Section of SIAM (CoSIAM) sponsors to advance industrial and applied mathematics in Colombia. Figure courtesy of Carlos Díez.

Another recurring CoSIAM event is the Workshop and International Seminar on Complexity Sciences — a specialized, multi-institutional, and interdisciplinary academic event for the development of applied mathematics research in Colombia. Experts who attend obtain specialized feedback that strengthens their scientific work. In 2021, more than 40 people—including attendees and speakers from various regions of Colombia and several other parts of the world—partook in the workshop. Researchers presented interesting papers and established collaborative networks during this event, which took place online.

Finally, we highlight the School of Applied and Industrial Mathematics, which offers three short courses in applied mathematics and enables attendees to share interdisciplinary experiences in applied and industrial math. 96 participants attended the 2021 iteration of this event, which featured courses on dynamics in electrical systems, blockchain and smart contracts, and quadratic optimization and support vector machines. Each course lasted 12 hours and took place virtually. This year’s courses—as well as those from previous years—are accessible on YouTube.

These are just some of the actions of the Colombia Section of SIAM. More information about CoSIAM’s various activities to promote applied and industrial mathematics in Colombia is available online

[1] Méndez-Romero, R.A., Bueno-Carreño, D.H., Díez-Fonnegra, C., & Redondo, J.M. (2021). SIAM-Colombia MMC: A challenge-based math modeling learning strategy. Math., 9(13), 1565.

Carlos Díez is a professor at Fundación Universitaria Konrad Lorenz in Colombia. He is the treasurer of the Colombia Section of SIAM.

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