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Mathematics and Computer Science - Key Disciplines in Developing Countries as well?


Whether you are in the rain forest or in the crowded streets of Bangladesh: Mathematics and computer science do not know any boundaries or social barriers.

Both have become popular and eminently respectable fields of study in emerging economic regions as well as in developing countries. But what do you do if you would like to study one of these subjects to become a scientist, and are not from Europe, the USA or any other rich economic nation? The fact that especially computer science and mathematics may be of significant importance for remote regions, will be presented in Heidelberg at the end of September.

“The Role and the Potential of Mathematics and Computer Science in Developing Nations/Emerging Economies“ is the "Hot Topic" of the 2nd Heidelberg Laureate Forum (September 21 to 26, 2014). The panel discussion will take place on September 23, 2014, starting at 2 p.m., at the Neue Universität in Heidelberg. Many winners of the highest scientific awards in computer science and mathematics will be joining the discussion: Along with 26 laureates - winners of the Fields Medal, Abel Prize, Turing Award and Nevanlinna Prize - who have already confirmed their participation in the 2nd HLF, 200 young researchers from 60 nations will join these winners of the "Quasi Nobel Prize".

Whether the younger speakers at the "Hot Topic" will soon receive a science trophy themselves remains to be seen: The mathematician Adamou Ibrahim has been employed as a full-time professor in his home country Niger since he participated in the 1st HLF as a young researcher last year. Only in 2011, the number of universities in Niger increased to four - before 2011 there was only one. Mohammad Kaykobad, computer scientist from Bangladesh, will talk about math olympics, which he has been successfully organizing for several decades: People from all social classes in Bangladesh are eager to participate in these competitions. A fact that causes envy in Western regions.

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Peter Benner from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems and his former Ecuadorian PhD student Hermann Mena, who originates from the Ecuadorian indigenous tribe of the Otavalos, will explain how a science politics crime story helped to jump start mathematics in Ecuador and at the same time minimized the cultivation of coca. The scientist Phanpheakdey Nguon will talk about how passionate Cambodia is about computer science and mathematics. He will present his plans of a research center for scientific computing in Phom Penh.

After these five initial presentations from India, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Cambodia and Niger, the organizer of the event, the Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation (HLFF) is looking forward to a vivid discussion, which will be joined by the current president of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), Ingrid Daubechies, and Vinton Cerf, the past president of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

We would like to formally invite all journalists to attend the HLF "Hot Topic". Please register via e-mail:

Background to the "Hot Topic at the HLF"
The science system and the economic situation of a country are closely linked to one another: Rich countries have sophisticated education systems and a diverse research landscape, whereas poor countries are characterized by a weak scientific infrastructure. Many scientists from these countries do research or teach in the Western world. At the same time, the richer scientific systems recruit and educate students from poorer regions. When these students want to return to their families and friends as fully qualified scientists, they face poor conditions for their professional career and they are often forced to go to the knowledge hubs in America or Europe. How can methodically shaping research and teaching in mathematics and computer science influence this situation? 

The "Hot Topic" afternoon of the Heidelberg Laureate Forum continues the discussion of the MENAO conference of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), which already addressed this topic in Seoul at the beginning of August. The IMU, partner of the HLFF, has been promoting mathematics and supporting mathematicians in developing countries since 1971. It also provides advice and counsel to international facilities and institutions as well as government and non-government organizations.

Place and Time:
The HLF will take place at the Neue Universität Heidelberg from September 21 to 26, 2014. The "Hot Topic" afternoon on “The Role and the Potential of Mathematics and Computer Science in Developing Nations/Emerging Economies“ will be held on September 23, 2014, starting at 2 p.m., in the Neue Aula at the Neue Universität, Universitätsplatz, 69117 Heidelberg.

The Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation organizes the Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF) every year. The HLF is a networking event for mathematicians and computer scientists from all over the world and will take place for the second time at the end of September. The Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF) was initiated by the German foundation Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS), which promotes natural sciences, mathematics and computer sciences, and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS). The Forum is organized by the Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation in cooperation with KTS and HITS as well as the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the International Mathematical Union (IMU) and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (DNVA). The 2nd Heidelberg Laureate Forum will take place from September 21 to 26, 2014.

To the editors:
With this press release, we would like to extend an invitation to attend the next Heidelberg Laureate Forum as well as to report on the event. Please register with us:

Scientific contact:
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Andreas Reuter
Scientific Chairperson
Telephone: +49-6221-533 200

Press inquiries/Contact for journalists:
Sabine Kluge
Telephone: +49-6221-533 385

Weitere Informationen:
Science Blog:

Sabine Kluge | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

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