WWW, that is the Wiskunnend Wiske Wedstrijd, or Mathematical Wisdom Contest, and is the creation of the famous physicist, mathematician and VUB alumna Ingrid Daubechies, who devised the game for her alma mater.
Daubechies wanted to organise a competition for young people in secondary education to help them discover the charms of mathematics: “Learning how to play an instrument is not the same as making music yourself. The latter is much more fun. It’s the same with maths. That’s what I wanted to bring about with WWW.”
Every year some 2,000 pupils from the fifth and sixth year of secondary school all over Flanders take part in the grand final on Pi Day – 14 March, or 3.14, a high day for all mathematicians.
During the final, the pupils are presented with four assignments and a game in which their young brains are pushed to the limit. It’s not only solving the tasks that’s important, but also how quickly they do it. The winning classes go home with great prizes.
Prof Ingrid Daubechies is a world authority in the field of wavelets, oscillations that enable processes such as image compression. She was portrayed in the Canvas TV series All for Science and in 2012 King Albert II conferred on her the title of Baroness. The granting of this title and the Nemmers Prize in the same year underline her leading position in her field. She has been a member of the US National Academy of Sciences since 1998 and was the first female professor of mathematics at Princeton University. She is currently professor of mathematics at Duke University in North Carolina.