Entrance hall of the ICMSPublic Events 2014


The glass bead game

Public lecture by Arun Ram (University of Melbourne)

18.00 Wednesday 3 September

This talk will take a virtual tour of the toy store with our friends Maria Callas, Alexander Grothendieck and Hermann Hesse. There are pleasant games with glass beads, athletic games skiing the moguls, and violent games where everything gets smashed.  There are crystals and hurricanes and, of course, a few polynomials.  The point of the talk is to tell some stories related to the ICMS workshop on Algebraic Lie theory and representation theory.

The talk will be followed by an informal wine reception.




Inerters and Formula 1

Public lecture by Malcolm Smith (University of Cambridge)

18.00 Tuesday 22 July  

The talk will discuss and demonstrate a new mechanical device introduced by the speaker, called the inerter. The theoretical origin of the idea, its confidential development by the McLaren Formula One team, its exposure to the public in the aftermath of the 2007 Formula One spy espionage controversy, and its subsequent adoption as a standard component in Formula One and other branches of motorsport, will be described. An accessible introduction to the historical background in control theory and mathematics of electrical circuits will be included.

The talk will be followed by an informal wine reception.


Mathemagic with a deck of cards

Public lecture by Colm Mulcahy

18.00 Friday 4 July  

Mathematician Colm Mulcahy is visiting Edinburgh and we are hosting his public lecture on behalf of the School of Mathematics, University of Edinburgh.   It promises to be full of mathemagical ideas!
There will be a book signing and a small wine reception after the talk.

Book your free ticket at http://mathemagic-deck-cards.eventbrite.co.uk - full details on the ticket booking page.




Computer simulations: the third way of doing science 

A public lecture by Gabriel Stoltz (Ecole des Ponts & Inria Rocquencourt, France)

18.00 Wednesday 4 June
Newhaven Lecture Theatre, ICMS, 15 South College Street, Edinburgh
All attendees are invited to join the wine reception which will follow this talk.

Science has progressed over the years through experiment and theory. Although they remain of fundamental importance, they are nowadays complemented by numerical simulations -- sometimes called "numerical experiments". It can even be said that the numerical results obtained by researchers more and more influence the way science is done: many new theories are now first tested on computers before an experimental device is set up to confirm them. It is also often the case that intriguing numerical evidence suggests a new theory.

In this talk, I will present some ideas underpinning the numerical simulation of matter at the atomic scale (the so-called molecular dynamics), and illustrate them with examples from various scientific fields ranging from biology to physics of condensed matter. I will also highlight the importance of mathematics in the development of reliable simulation tools.




Muß Es Sein? - Epigraph to a String Quartet

A public lecture by Yang-Hui He (City University London, Nankai University & University of Oxford)

18.00 Tuesday 13 May
Newhaven Lecture Theatre, ICMS, 15 South College Street, Edinburgh
All attendees are invited to join the wine reception which will follow this talk.

"Muß es sein?" So wrote Beethoven in an epigraph to his last string quartet. In today’s great quest for the Theory of Everything, physicists are led to ask the same: Must it be so? Do all interactions and all particles of nature fundamentally originate from a cosmic string quartet?

In this talk, we take the audience on a bird's-eye view of the theory of superstrings, what is it and why it is important. We will emphasize the wealth of ideas which has revolutionized the world of pure mathematics.

Yang-Hui He studied at Princeton University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Physics, with a Certificate in Applied Mathematics and a Certificate in Engineering, Summa cum Laude. He then obtained a Distinction at the Mathematical Tripos at Cambridge University before moving to MIT where he obtained his PhD in theoretical and mathematical physics. Yang continued with postdoctoral work in the University of Pennsylvania before joining Merton College, University of Oxford as the FitzJames Fellow in Mathematics and then the UK STFC Advanced Fellow in theoretical physics. Yang joined City University in 2010 as Reader in Mathematics and was concurrently awarded the Yangtze Chair Professorship at Nankai University by the Chinese Ministry of Education.




Science Festival Logo


17.30, Thursday 10 April
Summerhall, Summerhall Place, Edinburgh, EH9 1QH

Event photographs

How many guests need to come to a party to guarantee at least five will know one another or at least five will be mutual strangers? Prof Keith Ball, Scientific Director of the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, talks to Dr Colva Roney-Dougal, Senior Lecturer in Pure Mathematics at the University of St Andrews, about the mathematics of connections; from friendship, through marriage to the spread of disease. Along the way Colva will show how infinity plays some very peculiar tricks and discover some unexpected links between mathematicians and Hollywood stars.



11.00 - late, 5 - 20 April
Summerhall, Summerhall Place, Edinburgh, EH9 1QH

ICMS staff member, Madeleine Shepherd and Dr Julia Collins, Maths Outreach Officer at the University of Edinburgh have collaborated over the last year on Botanica Mathematica, a new textile art and mathematics project. Some readers might recall their talk about this project in December 2013. Their knitting and crochet pattern for Binary Bonsai trees has travelled the world via the internet. Crafters from the US, Europe and the UK have sent back a forest of little trees that make up the finished art work.  Botanica Mathematica will be on display as part of the Science at the HeArt of Things art trail, at Summerhall so why not come early to Colva’s lecture and take in some science-based art too?




1pm Thursday 20th March
Public Lecture and Film
at ICMS, 15 South College Street, Edinburgh


Event photographs

Etienne Ghys is a distinguished French mathematician who is also interested in the popularization of mathematics, especially chaos theory.

The programme will have two parts:  a somewhat technical lecture, assuming that the audience knows what differential equations are, and a showing of a film on chaos theory produced by Ghys, which will be accessible to the layman.

Both parts of the afternoon, technical lecture (part1) and film/talk (part2), are open to the public and can be booked via the separate Eventbrite links (see below). If you wish to attend both parts please make 2 separate bookings.

1-3pm - Part 1:  A brief history of dynamics

According to Y. Ilyashenko, there are three main steps in the history of dynamical systems.

  1. Newton : Given a differential equation, find its solutions
  2. Poincaré : Given a differential equation, say something about its solutions
  3. Smale : A differential equation is NOT given : say something about its solutions!

The goal of Etienne Ghys, in this talk, is to explain this joke. This will be an opportunity to discuss some fundamental examples like periodic motions, quasi-periodic motions, Smale’s horseshoe and the famous Lorenz butterfly, paradigmatic of chaos. More importantly, he will try to describe some of the current conjectures. Unfortunately, one has to admit that this story, since Newton, is nothing more than a succession of conjectures by great mathematicians, shown to be wrong by their successors. Nevertheless, Ghys believes that we do understand the situation better than Newton!

For more information, see this article in English or in French:

3-4pm - Tea/coffee break

4:00-5.30pm - Part 2: A brief cinematic history of dynamics for the layman

In 2013 Jos Leys, Aurélien Alvarez and Etienne Ghys produced a film on chaos theory, for the layman. Basically, this film tells the story of dynamics from Newton to current research, explained in an elementary way. The total length of the film is about two hours, so that it wouldn’t be reasonable to show it from A to Z. Instead, Etienne Ghys will show some extracts, to explain the ‘making of‘, and discuss it with the audience. The complete film can be downloaded here: http://www.chaos-math.org/en

This event is a Scottish Topology Seminar
Organiser: Andrew Ranicki, a.ranicki@ed.ac.uk
The Scottish Topology Seminar is supported by the Glasgow Mathematical Journal Trust.