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Virtual Mathematics in Industry Study Group

Monday 1 February - Friday 5 February 2021

A Mathematics in Industry Study Group is a five-day workshop at which academic researchers and graduate students work collaboratively with representatives from industry on research problems submitted by local industry. Study Groups have been organized for over fifty years in many countries around the world. The first Study Group in South Africa was held in 2004.

A Study Group is open and free from any non-disclosure agreement with industry.

Due to the Covid-19 epidemic the Study Group in 2021 will be a Virtual Study Group (VSG). A virtual meeting is an opportunity to develop further the Study Group in South Africa.

A VSG allows the participation of researchers who otherwise would find it difficult to participate in the Study Group. This includes experts in the field who are not needed for the whole of the meeting, those with travel difficulties both within South Africa and internationally, those with caring responsibilities and teaching commitments.


Contact information 
David P Mason

Organising Committee
  • Professor D P Mason, University of the Witwatersrand
  • Mr Erick Mubai, University of the Witwatersrand
  • Dr Syamala Krishnannair, University of Zululand
  • Professor M Ali, University of the Witwatersrand
  • Dr Gideon Fareo, University of the Witwatersrand
  • Dr Naeemah Modhien, University of the Witwatersrand
  • Professor M Khalique, North West University
  • Ms Victoria Rambuza, University of the Witwatersrand
  • Professor Jeff Sanders, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences and the University of Stellenbosch
  • Dr Simukai Utete, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences
Design of the Virtual Study Group
  • On the first day industry representatives outline about five problems posed by local industry. Each industry representative makes a 20 minute presentation followed by 10 minutes of questions.
  • Applied mathematicians and graduate students work virtually in small groups on the problems of their choice for three days
  • Reports back to industry on the progress made are presented on the last day
  • Further work is done on the problems after the meeting and a Proceedings is produced later in the year
  • For participants who use Microsoft the software Microsoft Teams will be used for virtual group discussions. Microsoft Teams does not work on Linux.
  • For participants who use Linux the software Zoom will be used for virtual group discussions.
  • The software Whiteboard Fox will be used for discussing mathematics.  It is free of charge for whiteboards that expire after 14 days. Whiteboard Fox works on Microsoft and Linux.
  • Each Study Group will have a DropBox for depositing papers and other research documents
  • Participants must have access to the necessary technology, either at home or at university.
Benefits to industry
  • Leading mathematicians from South Africa and overseas work on their problem
  • Obtain an initial modelling of their problem and a development of the solution process
  • New perspectives and fresh ideas are brought to the problem
  • Establish research links with academic applied mathematicians which can develop far beyond the problem posed
  • Establish contacts and develop employment opportunities for graduate students
Benefit to academics
  • Opportunity to work on problems of genuine practical importance and do good mathematics in the process
  • New research areas can be opened up leading to publications and new research collaborations
  • Opportunity to apply knowledge and skills to significant practical problems
  • Stimulate in industry the awareness of the power of mathematical modelling and scientific computing
Benefits to graduate students
  • Learn to model and solve problems of genuine practical importance by working closely with leading academics and invited guests
  • Learn leadership skills by observing the way the moderator coordinates the work on the problem
  • Learn skills in presenting research material and skills in scientific communication
Information for companies
  • Most industrial problems can be modelled mathematically. Problems that Study Groups in South Africa have investigated include rock bursts, hydraulic fracturing, optimization in mining, traffic flow, flow of molten glass, HIV in the work place, optimal distribution of goods, renewable energy, wind turbines, robot motion and image processing, urban and rooftop farming.
  • Because the Study Group will discuss the problems openly the problems must not be of a confidential nature and must be such that the results can be published.
  • There is only a voluntary payment for submitting a problem to encourage industry participation.
  • If you are interested in submitting a problem please contact us.
  • If your problem is selected you will have to submit a detailed problem description well before the meeting and present the problem at the first day of the Study Group.
  • The industry representative is expected to be contactable during the whole week to assist the academic participants.
Information for participants
  • There is no registration fee because participants give their expertise free of charge.
  • You need to register here
  • There are breaks for morning and afternoon tea, and lunch.
  • One academic staff member and one graduate student will be invited from each of the fifteen South AFrican Universities in the Centre of Excellence in Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.


Invited guests
  • Professor Neville Fowkes, University of Western Australia, Australia
  • Centre of Excellence in Mathematical and Statistical Sciences
  • African Institute for Mathematical Sciences