4th Annual Charlotte Scott Lecture in Mathematics

Can maths save the world?

An operational researcher’s perspective

a public lecture by

Ruth Kaufman OBE, FORS, FIMA, CSci

Former President of the Operational Research Society (2016–2017)
Chair of the Society’s Pro Bono Steering Group

Wednesday 4 December 2019

6 pm – 7:20 pm

Newton Lecture Theatre INB0114 in the Isaac Newton building, University of Lincoln

Book a place

All around us, we see the need for change to improve the world we live in. Globally: in May of this year the United Nations published a report showing that mankind not only leads to an accelerated rate of extinction of species but is orchestrating its own extinction, unless a dramatic change occurs. The UN food programme tells us that in a world where we produce enough food to feed everyone, one person in nine goes to bed hungry each day. Locally: around 45% of Greater Lincolnshire lies within the floodplain, but Lincolnshire is also subject to drought — water management is just one of the challenges that face this extraordinary county. Individually: daily we experience examples of bad decisions, systems and processes that can cause anything from annoyance, to financial cost, to societal harm, to loss of life. At every level, there are a myriad changes that could make the world a better place.

This talk explores whether and how maths — and in particular, mathematical modelling and mathematical mindsets — can make a difference, and help save the world.


Ruth Kaufman OBE, FORS, FIMA, CSci was president of the Operational Research Society from 2016 to 2017, and currently chairs the Society’s Pro Bono Steering Group. Her career was spent in operational research and wider management roles in the public sector, and she has been chair of both the Government Operational Research Service and the Heads of OR Forum bringing together OR leaders from the public and private sector. She was awarded the OBE for services to OR in 2016, and has also been elected a Companion of OR. She has a BA in Maths from the University of Sussex.


This public lecture series is named after Charlotte Scott, the famous mathematician born in Lincoln, who was also influential in developing  mathematical education of women and their participation in mathematical research

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