Why do mathematicians love blackboards?

Publication date
Wednesday, 22 Nov 2023

The Mathematical Sciences Institute is located in one of the newest, most modern buildings at ANU. 

And here, you’ll find a piece of technology found nowhere else on campus: blackboards. 

“There were a lot of discussions about what we wanted and didn’t want in this building,” says Associate Professor Pierre Portal.  

“That was the point that was absolutely consensual - no matter what the building ended up being, it had to have as many blackboards as possible.”  

It is, he says, “a funny quirk of mathematicians” to favour old-school blackboard and chalk over any more modern or high-tech alternative.  

“You’ll find very few mathematicians who will be willing to let go of that.” 

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