Using maths and computer science to do social good


Using Maths and Computer Science to do Social Good

The Course

These are the course pages for 'Fun Fridays' at the Dept. of IT, Uppsala University. This course is 'drop-in'. You are welcome any Friday from March 11th onwards at 9:15am in room 101168 to participate and start working on a project.

A presentation of most recent projects will be made 14:15 on Friday 4th of March in Ångström room 101150.   

The aims of this course is to learn how to use your maths, computer science, statistics, machine learning or similar methods to make the world a better place. We will use our skills to give us insight in to and/or improve society, to think about what it means to try to improve the world using maths, and also to be creative and have fun. You will do this by creating your own project, with help from the course teachers (David Sumpter and Ida-Maria Sintorn.

We meet every Friday at 9:15am. There will also be lectures, guest seminars and workshops on Fridays. PhD students can participate for a grade credit of 5hp, or an extended project to give a grade credit of 10hp. Although designed as a PhD student course, PostDocs and other senior researchers are most welcome. 

Social good in this course will have a very broad definition. It can be modelling disease spread or climate change, it can be finding out more about how we interact online, it can be investigating and dissecting algorithms used by large corporations. But it can also be making fun to use applications or demonstrations of your research or your interests.We also, and this is central, look at the ethical dangers involved in claiming we are going to 'do good'.  It doesn't always turn out like we thought it would.

Projects created are kept updated here:

The course is run by David Sumpter and Ida-Maria Sintorn. It will consists of a series of lectures by David, seminars by guest speakers, together with projects designed and carried out by the students with David's guidance and supervision. Ida-Maria will give guidance about outreach and public communication. David  (Länkar till en externa sida.)has worked extensively in communicating and applying maths to everyday life topics and society. He is the author of several popular science books including: Soccermatics, Outnumbered, and The Ten Equations that Rule the World. He has written for among others, The Economist, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Current Biology, Nordic Bet Blog, The Conversation, Mathematics Today and FourFourTwo magazine. Ida-Maria  (Länkar till en externa sida.)has industrial and academic experience in a variety of image analysis applications, including working at the department of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Sydney, Australia, as Head of R&D and currently CTO at Vironova AB, and as researcher at both Uppsala University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Register (interest and course participation) by sending an email to


Uppsala Activities

The success of this project requires us to work together, support each other and find joint ways of making progress. The basic idea is, by working alone or in groups, to take a project idea from start to finish in 5 to 10 days of work per person. We start with a question or idea, and present our work as a video or blog post. Together, the course members will set up their own Youtube channel/written blog in order to report on their results to a broader public.

The work on Fridays will be organised as follows. 

09:15 We meet once a week  

10:00 Coffee together

10:00 - 14:00 It is suggested that students on the course (and others) try to work together at this time.

15:00 Some afternoons we will have online or live seminars.

Attendance at the Friday meetings is obligatory for students participating in the course. 


Off-Campus Participation

At some point, we plan to start an online hub for external participants. If you are interested in creating an external hub then please contact Ida-Maria ( Within Sweden it should be possible to have the course made part of the degree. The Institute for Future Studies  (Länkar till en externa sida.) will constitute one such hub. 

Although we see no limits to who can do good with maths and computer science, participation in this particular project is limited to academics either currently working on or already holding a PhD. 

Course summary:

Date Details Due