25th January 2013

More than 100 of the world's top mathematicians and statisticians will meet at QUT next week to help solve pressing problems faced by real-world industries and organisations.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Fonterra and the Australian Bureau of Statistics are among those that are posing a tricky question to the maths experts for the annual Maths in Industry Study Group.

On the list is the Great Barrier Reef whose health is arguably the best monitored in the world. But, according to Dr Julian Caley AIMS principal research scientist, much of the data on reef health differs in important ways because it is gathered by individual research programs.

"We have posed the challenge to the MISG to find the best way to combine this wide variety of data to maximise the information they contain to give us a better understanding of how coral reefs are faring," Dr Caley said.

"We are confident that the world's best maths thinkers will be able to help us develop ways to find patterns across the different datasets that will give us an insight into the causes of the ongoing degradation of coral reefs, point to options for preventing further damage, and be able to detect improvements as a result of management."

MISG director, Associate Professor Troy Farrell, from QUT's Mathematical Sciences School, is an applied mathematician with extensive experience in solving technical problems in industry.

"Since its inception, the MISG has worked with more than 85 business and industry partners, ranging from large multinational conglomerates to small-to-medium enterprises," Professor Farrell said.

"Queensland will host the next three MISG meetings and it is an ideal opportunity to showcase the many ways that maths and the other STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) disciplines improve our everyday lives. Australia desperately needs more graduates from these disciplines.

"Over the years, the group has worked on more than 150 different projects spanning a broad spectrum of sectors including mining, car manufacturing, railways and freight, manufacturing, metal processing, food and beverages, oil and gas, utilities, biomedical science, and technology.

"Academics and researchers challenge themselves to achieve the best possible outcomes in a short amount of time for government, industry and business, so the workshop atmosphere is exciting and vibrant."

Dr Caley is part of a research group that includes Professor Kerrie Mengersen from QUT and Professor Sean Connolly from James Cook University and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

The Maths in Industry Study Group runs from 29 January to 2 February at QUT's new Science and Engineering Centre on Gardens Point campus.

For information go to http://mathsinindustry.com/industry-projects/

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Media contact: Niki Widdowson, QUT media, 07 3138 2999 or n.widdowson@qut.edu.au.

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