It may come as a shock that new mathematical results are discovered at the rate of thousands each month! As a mathematician, Dr Do adds to this wealth of knowledge, motivated by the intrinsic beauty and structure of the subject. His research focuses on geometry, but not as you’ve seen it before! For example, consider counting how many ways you can build a surface from a collection of patches. Perhaps you’ve seen a soccer ball constructed from several shapes – twelve pentagons and twenty hexagons, to be precise. But how many ways are there to combine these patches to make some, possibly wonky, sort of ball? There exists a surprising pattern which governs the answers to all such surface-building questions.
Amazingly, this same pattern appears in diverse mathematical problems and theoretical models of the universe. Thus this research leads to a deeper understanding of the fundamental laws of nature. A recurring theme in science is that of mathematics as an enabling discipline. Whereas past mathematical results underpin almost all modern technologies, Norman hopes his research will facilitate future scientific advances.
Dr Do is involved in various community outreach programs including work with Australian Mathematics Trust, where he is coauthoring a book on mathematical problem solving, and also sits on the committee that writes the Australian Mathematics Competition. Norman has jointly initiated the Monash Maths Academy, an ongoing outreach program for motivated students. He lectures for the National Mathematics Summer School, a two-week program for school students. Norman also sits on the Mathematics of Planet Earth, a committee that prepares classroom materials and online activities for students.