International Day of Mathematics Profile - Tobin South
Saturday 14 March 2020 is the International Day of Mathematics. This year, we're celebrating by sharing how Tobin South, a Higher Degree by Research Candidate from the School of Mathematical Sciences, is developing tools to understand how information flows within our news ecosystem on social media.
There is a growing crisis of misinformation online and it comes in many forms, from rumours spreading on Facebook to politicians tweeting lies. Sometimes, misinformation becomes part of real news and is spread around the world; that's when we're really in trouble.
Tobin's research focuses on understanding how information flows between news sources. It involves turning the words we use into numbers and using those numbers to allow computers to understand them. Using lots of big data and mathematics to handle it, we can figure out what pieces of information are going where, and how the transferal changes them.
On how he came to study Maths at the University of Adelaide, Tobin says:
"When I came to the University of Adelaide, it wasn't to do maths, it was to study electrical engineering. Luckily, engineering still involves a fair bit of maths, which gave me enough time to fall in love with it. The joy of solving puzzles was enough to make me change my degree to maths; helped along by my predisposition for electrocutions.
Almost everything is a math problem. Everything from finding the fastest way to get to university to figuring out who the most important rapper is (which is something I really did)*. Studying maths is like doing a degree in how to work out cool stuff and once you get hooked, you can't stop asking questions. It is endless fun, has incredible job prospects, and you'll never have to get bored solving the same old stuff. If you're willing to put in the work to solve a few equations, you'll never regret doing a maths degree. I sure didn't."
*It was 2 Chainz in case you were wondering.