Hungarian wins top mathematics prize

Hungarian Endre Szemeredi has won the Abel prize, considered to be the "Nobel" for mathematics, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters announced on Wednesday.

Szemeredi, 71, who works both at the Hungarian Alfred Renyi Institute of Mathematics and at the US Rutgers university's department of computer sciences, was awarded the prize for his work in so-called discrete mathematics, the study of mathematical structures.

"Endre Szemeredi revolutionised discrete mathematics by introducing original and ingenious techniques, and solving a number of fundamental problems," the academy said in a statement.

The prize, worth some €800,000 ($1.05 million), will be awarded to Szemeredi on May 22nd in Oslo by King Harald of Norway.

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Why 2,000 Danish university students are failing ‘basic mathematics’

A half divided by a half, percentages and fractions are among basic maths causing problems for many first-year students at Copenhagen Business School (CBS).

Why 2,000 Danish university students are failing 'basic mathematics'
Photo: Deepak Gautam/Pexels

As many as 70 to 80 percent of students per year group must take supplementary courses in mathematics in order to keep up with classes, newspaper Berlingske reports.

“We have to screen them in the first week, and 70-80 percent first-year students’ maths skills are not good enough,” Leslie Christensen, a postdoc who teaches microeconomic courses at CBS, told the newspaper.

“They simply cannot understand an economics textbook because of the mathematics,” Christensen, added.

A total of 2,054 first-year students from the most recent year group failed a maths screening, according to the report. They were subsequently sent on courses on the first weekend after the start of study to brush up on their maths.

The trend reflects raising concern over the standard of mathematics at upper secondary school level, Berlingske writes.

That was evidenced earlier this month in a Ministry of Education report on the level of Danish upper secondary school (gymnasium) students.

According to the report, students have generally become better at dealing with real-world issues but significantly worse at basic mathematics.

That has a knock-on effect for their first year at university, it also concluded.

But CBS management said that students are able to quickly catch up.

“The most important thing is that they acquire mathematical skills fairly quickly. This shows us that the students have great potential and are therefore the right students,” CBS Dean of Education Gregor Halff told Berlingske.

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