One hundred and fifty not out

26 February 2008 | Story by Newsroom

Not out: Prof John Webb has produced the 150th edition of his Mathematical Digest magazine.

The publication of the 150th edition of the high school magazine Mathematical Digest was celebrated in the Department of Mathematics last week. Founded by Emeritus Professor John Webb in 1971, the magazine has appeared quarterly without a break ever since.

Way back then, Webb noticed that there was little on mathematics for children to read at school other than textbooks.

"It is strange because in other areas of school work, you watch movies on history, you read poetry and novels, you learn your language at home, you experience music and drama and art outside the school curriculum - but the learning of mathematics is entirely concentrated within the school curriculum," he says.

Filling this gap, well over 3 000 articles have appeared in the 150 editions of Mathematical Digest since 1971. They include readable articles on mathematics just outside the school curriculum, anecdotes of famous mathematicians from Pythagoras to Stephen Hawking, news of mathematical Olympiads, puzzles and problems with Sharp calculators offered as prizes.

Today, one copy of every edition of Mathematical Digest is sent free to 2000 high schools across South Africa, with support from the Old Mutual Foundation. With further support from the Western Cape Department of Education, all Dinaledi schools in the Western Cape receive ten copies of every edition.

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