Mathematics applied to daily life

Mauricio Velasco Photo
He studied mathematics at the Universidad de los Andes. In 2002, he began a doctorate in Economics at Cornell University but quit to focus on mathematics.
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Professor Mauricio Velasco lets out a laugh when you tell him that he does not seem like a mathematician because of the way he looks and the way he talks.

He has heard this a thousand times, but it still amuses him, “It’s a cliché that mathematicians are shy, nervous, and only stare at the floor. But, nothing could be further from the truth. We are not all John Forbes Nash”, he says referencing the brilliant but eccentric scientist that Russel Crowe portrayed in A Brilliant Mind. “We are not all odd”, he concludes, and then laughs again.

Mauricio has been part of the Department of Mathematics at Universidad de los Andes since 2011. Even before, however, he dedicated a large part of his time to working on his specialist subject: geometric algebra, optimization, and the way they interact.

He uses clear and fluid language to explain his work. He has a harmonious voice that sounds almost musical. He is wearing light blue jeans and a simple black jumper. He has a long grey beard and has an easy and contagious smile.

He explains that this work is applicable to almost any daily problem (read: improve Transmilenio routes or patients in the public health system) and has won him awards such as the 2016 TWAS Prize (Third World Academy of Sciences), which was presented by the Academy of Exact and Natural Sciences in Italy. In 2017, he received the José Fernando Escobar Prize, that was awarded by the Colombian Society of Mathematicians to those who have excelled in their research in either pure or applied mathematics.

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