Many events have been planned by the ÖAW-Acoustics Research Institute this year. Most of them have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictive counter-measures instituted by the Austrian federal government. For others, the event is still too far away to be able to announce anything with certainty.

At this year's International Mathematics Day, however, things were slightly different:

Diana Stoeva, who had the initial idea and co-organized the International Day of Mathematics (IDM) in Vienna and some Bulgarian schools, managed to reach a certain level of publicity despite the event's eventual cancellation.

March 14 was proclaimed by UNESCO as the International Day of Mathematics (IDM). The English spelling 3-14 of the date is reminiscent of the decimal representation of the circle number Pi.

The main aim of the IDM is to celebrate mathematics and introduce it to the general public, with a particular focus on generating interest in the younger generation.  One of the planned events was in the Austrian capital Vienna. The Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Technical University of Vienna, the University of Vienna, and the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, invited the public to come to the Prechtl Hall of the Vienna University of Technology at Karlsplatz for a free IDM event. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. they would have offered versatile stations and lectures aimed at an audiences from the age of 12.

In parallel to the preparation of the big public event for the town of Vienna, preparation for local events in several schools were in progress. Many activities devoted to mathematics in nature and everyday life were planned in the Bulgarian-Austrian school “Prof. Ivan Schischmanov” in Vienna, the Bulgarian school “Hristo Botev” in Bratislava, Amadeus International School in Vienna, and the Secondary school “Georgi Izmirliev” in Gorna Oryahovitsa. The earliest events were a success, but unfortunately the rest of the school plans were postponed due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

The celebration of the IDM in the Bulgarian-Austrian school “Prof. Ivan Schischmanov” was only possible, as it was planned for the 7th of March, one week before the lockdown in Austria and before the official date of the IDM. The motto of the school event was like the official motto of this year's IDM, namely "Mathematics is Everywhere". Numerous pupils, parents and teaching staff were represented on site. Various geometrical figures cut out of paper formed well-known objects from the real world, which served as decorations on site. First generation sound devices, such as the telephone or the gramophone, were exhibited as models. In addition, students gave lectures, for example, on the subject of “mathematics in literature”, the Fibonacci numbers and how they occur in plants, fruits and animals, and the golden ratio that has been used in architecture and art since ancient times. ÖAW sound researcher, Diana Stoeva gave a lecture on mathematics in signal processing.

In the Bulgarian school “Hristo Botev” in Bratislava there were many activities planned for the first three weeks of March, and thus the first ones before the lockdown could take place. These were activities focused on symmetry in nature. The pupils from several classes took care to construct origami flowers, plants, and DNA-molecules, and to take photographs of flowers and animals with symmetry. The rest of the planned activities like exhibitions of the prepared materials, movies, and presentations, devoted, e.g., to math in sport, art, architecture, music, and other, had to be postponed.

The preparation of all the events devoted to the IDM attracted the attention of several journalists and the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR). With the interview which she gave for BNR Horizont, Stoeva was able to reach listeners in her home country just before the International Day of Mathematics (as well as the lockdown).

In the Radio interview, Stoeva addressed several topics in mathematics. In particular, she delighted the Bulgarian listeners by explaining how mathematics is used in the traditional music of the country and its irregular rhythms. Unfortunately, at that point in time, she already knew that the planned event in the first school she attended in her home town could not take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She shared this with a little sadness, but she was also excited to share the enthusiasm of the pupils for doing math activities. She assured the listeners that the planned meeting at the school in Gorna Oryahovitsa will take place after the restrictions are lifted and the pupils will have the chance to celebrate a day of mathematics at a later date.

The next International day of Mathematics, 14th of March 2021, falls on a Sunday. The countdown has already started. (ULITSCH/STOEVA/STUEFER)