About Plus

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About Plus

Marianne Freiberger and Rachel Thomas

Welcome to Plus – from the Editors, Marianne and Rachel (seen on the right rendered as a surface)!

Our aim, here at Plus, is to provide a gateway to mathematics and related sciences, in particular to current research in these fields, for non-expert audiences through articles, podcasts and videos that are freely accessible on our website. The content ranges from basic explainers of particular concepts to in-depth explorations of particular areas or applications, and is produced by the Editors in direct collaboration with researchers.

Why do people need to know about the mathematical sciences?

The mathematical sciences are becoming ever more visible as key tools in understanding the world we live in and addressing societal and individual challenges — from artificial intelligence and other advances in technology, to climate change and public and individual health. At the same time, mathematics remains one of the hardest fields to access for people who are not already experts. To enable non-expert audiences to engage with the mathematical sciences, in particular with current research, translations are needed that are unbiased and clear, while retaining mathematical and scientific accuracy and rigour.

It is also important to highlight the role of curiosity driven research across the whole range of the mathematical sciences, and particularly in pure mathematics. This research drives forward development of the fundamental science that will underpin future advances in applied mathematics and data science, and innovations in technology. The skills such research nurtures — abstraction, analytical thinking, problem solving, and an eye for patterns and forms — are beneficial far beyond the field itself, and the personal enjoyment to be gained rivals that gained from the arts. What is more, since research in all areas of mathematics is funded by public money, it is essential that the people who provide that money – tax payers and policy makers – are able to appreciate what it is being spent on.

Who are we trying to reach? And what are we trying to say?

Many different audiences might want or need to engage with mathematics and related subjects: teachers and potential students, policy makers, the mainstream media, "users" of mathematics in industry and science, and the interested public. The reasons for doing so are manifold. Audiences may want to understand a particular societal or individual issue or a particular application of mathematics, or to assess the validity of claims made by the media, politicians or companies. They might want to foster the next generation of mathematically literate people needed across STEM subjects and beyond. Or they might want to satisfy their curiosity for private enjoyment of a fascinating field that has shaped human experience for millennia.

In working with researchers, we not only communicate their work, but also their experience and motivations, providing a diverse range of role models to inspire younger generations and enabling sceptical audiences to engage with a field that is too often viewed as an unchanging edifice existing separately to human experience.

A complementary aim is to provide researchers with opportunities to communicate their work to non-expert audiences at a level that suits them. We do this through a collaborative process of producing content, but also through a variety of training workshops and resources available to the mathematical science community.

We have been fortunate to work with many different research groups and organisations over the years. We have ongoing collaborations with the Isaac Newton Institute, the JUNIPER network, the Maths4DL research project, and the University of Cambridge's Maths Faculty –which is also the home of Plus. Previous collaborations have included the Stephen Hawking Centre for Theoretical Cosmology and Discovery+, the Cantab Capital Institute for the Mathematics of Information, the Cambridge Mathematics of Information in Healthcare Hub, among others.

Who we are

Plus is led by co-editors Marianne Freiberger and Rachel Thomas, former mathematicians who write and produce all the original content, manage collaborations and provide the editorial vision for the project. Julia Hawkins and Julia Gog provide vital strategic guidance and project management support, and Dane Rossenrode maintains this Plus website. You can meet the team here!

Get in touch

To comment on Plus or to get in touch with the editors for any other reason, e-mail us at plus@maths.cam.ac.uk. Please be patient - due to the high volume of emails it may take us up to a month to reply.

You can also follow us on X (previously known as Twitter) and Facebook, subscribe to our email newsletter, or to our podcast through Apple Podcasts, Spotify and through most other podcast providers via podbean.

A short history

Plus started life under the name of PASS Maths (Public Awareness and Schools Support for Maths) in 1997, when it was a project of the Interactive Courseware Research and Development Group, based jointly at the Universities of Cambridge and Keele.

Since 1999, Plus has been part of the Millennium Mathematics Project at the University of Cambridge. The MMP is active across the UK and internationally, and aims to help people of all ages and abilities share in the excitement of mathematics and understand the enormous range and importance of its applications to science and daily life. It works to change people's attitudes to maths, to act as a national focus for renewing and improving appreciation of the dynamic importance of maths and its applications, and to demonstrate the vital contribution of maths to shaping the everyday world.

Terms of use

Plus is free to use for educational and non-commercial purposes. Read our full terms of use here.