The Joint Policy Board for Mathematics invites you to join in the
celebration of the breadth and depth of mathematics during
Mathematics Awareness Week, April 2127, 1996. The theme for
Mathematics Awareness Week 1996 is Mathematics and Decision Making,
a wideranging topic to use as a focus for communicating the power
and diversity of mathematics to a wider audience.
We all make many decisions every day: from the clothes we put on
according to weather predictions to the routes we choose to run
errands. Many more are made for us: by the suppliers of goods and
services we use and by the makers of public policies. Mathematics
plays an important part in making many decisions. A better
understanding of the mathematics involved will help us make better
decisions and better understand those that affect us.
Mathematics and decision making includes such ideas as probability,
risk, uncertainty, and prediction. Financial decision making
incorporates such techniques as portfolio optimization, option
processing, and risk management. Operations research  use of
mathematical models to optimize some practical operation  is
widely used in government and industry. Risk assessment and
management have significant implications in public policy making 
particularly in health and the environment  and suggest a broader
issue: how to extrapolate from valid studies to extreme situations
that can't be easily studied.
Here is an opportunity to expose a wider audience to mathematics 
from the creation and discovery of new mathematics, to its myriad
of uses in decision making. We urge you to meet with your
colleagues and begin planning for Mathematics Awareness Week 1996
immediately. You can observe Mathematics Awareness Week 1996 with
a special program on your campus, in your company, or at a local
school. For ideas, look at the accompanying summaries of selected
activities held in 1995 to celebrate Mathematics Awareness Week.
The following items are among those that will be available under
the Mathematics Awareness Week heading on the "gopher" of the
Mathematical Association of America:

A sample proclamation to use in working with local officials in preparing a proclamation for your state or locality;

Suggestions for conveying the importance of mathematics to
public policy leaders;

A list of available information on Careers in the Mathematical Sciences;

A summary of mathematical resources, including reports on the improvement of mathematics education and other policy issues and items on Mathematics and Decision Making;

Information about videos in mathematics to use during your MAW event;

More examples of 1995 MAW activities.
The above items and links to more examples of Mathematics and
Decision Making can be found on the MAW World Wide Web home page,
URL: http://www.mathaware.org/maw/
Early next year we will mail a MAW 1996 poster depicting Mathematics
and Decision Making to a list of individuals in the mathematics
community. We will also enclose and electronically post:

A sample news release, which you can adapt and mail to local media outlets;

Articles on the theme, Mathematics and Decision Making.
Last year, based on calls received, there were hundreds of radio
and television spots and articles and editorials in local and
institutional newspapers covering MAW activities. We encourage you
to use this opportunity to write an editorial on mathematics, or to
generate a news release about your special MAW event. Be sure to
talk with your institution's Public Information Office about your
ideas and activities. The staff there might offer additional
suggestions for using Mathematics Awareness Week to increase public
understanding about mathematics.
Back to Math Awareness Week 1996