Maths “the music of construction”

Marnie Hughes Warrington comes closes to heresy in the first essay for 2018 in her chronicle of constructing the new ANU – suggesting that other industries can be as financially fiendish to administer as universities.

Cash flow monitoring for a university budget is complex because major sources of income such as student fees and grants may be received in large blocks, as against more evenly spread expenditure needs. Construction project cash flow is recognised as even more complex again because of the need to order and pay for materials and workforce in sequence when there looms the possibility of delays such as those caused by weather,” the ANU DVC writes.

And what makes it work is maths, “the music of construction.” “People may rattle on like echo chambers about the need for us to step up the pace in maths education, and to value maths more, but when you see a construction project buzz it is apparent in a concrete way that maths is critical.”

As her many admirers know, Professor Hughes Warrington is an historian of ideas who takes a very broad view of her brief. A couple of years back she conceived a passion for activity based accounting and now it seems constructing cash flows is another.


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