They are called “digital twins”: mathematical and computational representations of complex systems and equipment, which use artificial intelligence fed by real data to reproduce the equipment’s behavior in a virtual way. On the cutting edge of technology, they are starting to spread far and wide.
The virtual twin of a nuclear power plant makes it possible to predict how its components will age and even test new components safely inside a computer. There are also virtual twins of people (for those who can afford it…): they make it possible to test therapies and their dosages in advance, based on clinical data.
It’s just one example of how the applications of mathematics and computing are invading new areas of human activity. These are sophisticated and thought-provoking applications, which require a high level of qualification in mathematical sciences and which have the potential to revolutionize different areas of the economy.
That mathematics can contribute greatly to the production of wealth is a known fact. Technical studies carried out since 2010 in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Australia and Spain found that economic activity based on mathematics generates around 15% of the Gross Domestic Product in these countries. Furthermore, jobs with intensive use of mathematics earn better salaries and are more resilient in the face of crises, as happened during the pandemic.
In Brazil, a similar study is currently being completed by Itaú Social. It will soon allow us to assess our insertion on the global stage and the unexplored potential of mathematics to contribute to the country’s development. And we know that realizing this potential requires highly qualified professionals in the use of mathematical tools to solve real problems, another of our needs.
It is in this context that the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics is creating ImpaTech, a degree program in mathematics of technology and innovation that will operate, from 2024, within the Rio de Janeiro Innovation Hub. It is a partnership with the city hall, with the support of the Federal Government.
Selecting candidates primarily from the knowledge olympiads, to reach the most talented young people that Brazil has, and providing financial support to students during the course, ImpaTech will offer training with emphasis on mathematics, computer science, data science and physics . The objective is to train professionals qualified to change the world through mathematical sciences.
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