Robert Bailey is quick to explain that pure mathematical research is motivated by intellectual curiosity. But that doesn't mean that many pieces of research can't find real world applications decades after they've been developed.
Dr. Bailey's curiosity has lead him to the field of graph theory - the study of graphs, which are mathematical structures used to model relations between objects. It's a particular way of thinking based on logic and assumptions with the goal of finding proof that can't be argued with.
"Pure mathematics is about proof of a fact which is logically completely infallible. It doesn't go out of fashion. Once you've established proof, it stays true forever," Dr. Bailey explained. "It doesn't stop being true as the world changes and new theories are developed."
While the end goal of graph theory isn't to produce a real world application, it's being used in many fields including graphing molecules in pharmaceutical chemistry, business scheduling, and communications networking. For example, computer and telephone networks can be described using mathematical graphs.
Dr. Bailey is working to build an online database of graphs that will be used as a tool for researchers in the field of graph theory around the world. The database is designed to complement those that already exist and focuses on graphs with symmetry properties. He is currenlty working with Grenfell students, who areindexing and cataloguing data and the goal is for the online tool that will go live in the coming months.
Grenfell Campus Start-up Grant
NSERC Discovery Grant
ABOUT FOR THE RECORD:
Throughout the semester we will highlight some of the interesting research taking place at Grenfell Campus. The articles will appear here and will be compiled on the research webpage.
Article prepared by Alli Johnston