Entrance hall of the ICMSPublic Events 2017

July

What is modern geometry?

6pm, 25 July 2017
Newhaven Lecture Theatre
ICMS, 15 South College Street
Edinburgh, EH8 9AA
Tickets are free but should be reserved in advance

A public lecture by
Michael Wemyss, University of Glasgow

With its fostering of key analytical skills, with its ability to see structure in the most unlikely of places, and above all its ability to analyse information critically, effectively, and with the power of abstraction, the time has never been better to be a mathematician.  Largely hidden from view, mathematics is underpinning and percolating into our everyday lives at an ever increasing rate, since its core is forged from the idea that structure is the key to mathematics, and hence the living world. It is really a structural understanding, not a superficial one, that is one of the great human desires.

Solving equations is what mathematicians are expected to do, but most only do so indirectly.  The structures used to obtain the solutions are as important as the solutions themselves, as these can then be analysed in their own right, and transported to solve problems in very different contexts.  In solving equations, we are naturally led into an ever deeper understanding.  From the first realisation that the solutions form a space, to the initial attempts of understanding its properties, to the very modern tools that optimally extract and encode information, our understanding of the underlying structure is both deepening and evolving.  This public lecture will explain the development of this algebraic form of geometry and its applications, from both a historic and mathematical perspective.

Doors open at 5.45pm. The talk will be followed by an informal reception to which all ticket holders are invited.

NB The public lecture originally planned for this date has been replaced by the above because, sadly, the speaker has been taken ill.

 


 

Pools of Blood

6.00pm, Wednesday 19 July 2017
Newhaven Lecture Theatre
ICMS, 15 South College Street
Edinburgh, EH8 9AA
Tickets are free but should be reserved in advance

A public lecture by
Professor Keith Ball, University of Warwick

How should we design testing protocols for blood samples? This is a typical example of a problem in mathematical information theory. The lecture will explain the basic ideas of information theory and answer the protocol problem. The talk is accessible to those aged 14 or over with an interest in maths.

Doors open at 5.30pm. The talk will be followed by an informal reception to which all ticket holders are invited.

 



 

June

Strange bedfellows: what do quantum mechanics, Google search, number theory, and tertiary admissions rankings have in common?

6pm, 27 June 2017
Newhaven Lecture Theatre
ICMS, 15 South College Street
Edinburgh, EH8 9AA
Available places are fully booked. You can add your name the waiting list for cancellations via this link.

A public lecture by
Aidan Sims, University of Wollongong

Early in the 20th century, physicists began to realise that when you look at it closely enough, the universe is much, much weirder than we had previously imagined: we can't actually tell where something is and how fast it's moving at the same time; light can't decide whether to be a wave or a particle; and subatomic phenomena give the very disconcerting impression that they can tell whether we are watching them or not.

In an effort to understand and predict these quantum phenomena, physicists and mathematicians found themselves needing to develop a new mathematical framework, which we now call operator algebras. They discovered that they had to relinquish the intuitive concreteness of classical mechanics, and model physics at the quantum scale using symmetries and compressions of infinite-dimensional spaces. Operator algebras have been studied by mathematicians and physicists alike ever since, and have turned out to have remarkable things to say about parts of mathematics that seem about as far from quantum physics as you can get.

We will take a leisurely tour of the development of these ideas: where they came from and what they've achieved in quantum mechanics; how they came to be tied up with questions that came from the theory of computation and others from the study of the famous Riemann hypothesis; and how some of the mathematics that emerged relates to the way that Google decides which web pages to show you, and how the Australian Tertiary Admissions Ranking is calculated.

Doors open at 5.30pm. The talk will be followed by an informal reception to which all ticket holders are invited.



 

UK Nuclear: past, present and future

6.00pm, 13 June 2017
Newhaven Lecture Theatre
ICMS, 15 South College Street
Edinburgh, EH8 9AA
Tickets are free but should be reserved in advance via Eventbrite.

A public lecture by
Gary Bolton, UK National Nuclear Laboratory

Gary's talk will provide an overview of the UK's heritage in the nuclear sector, consider where tih industry is at the moment and look towards the opportunities in the future. Following his PhD in Chemical Engineering at University of Manchester, Gary worked in technology developement and commercialisation with a University spin out company. He joined the UK's National Nuclear Laboratory in 2010 where he works as a Technology Manager withing Waste Management and Decommissioning. His main interest is in engineering-led technology development, particularly working with universitiesin translating their sensor and sensing research into industrial practice and value for the nuclear sector.

Doors open at 5.30pm. The talk will be followed by an informal reception to which all ticket holders are invited.

 


 

The mathematical sciences infrastructure underpinning modern business

6pm, 6 June 2017
Newhaven Lecture Theatre
ICMS, 15 South College Street
Edinburgh, EH8 9AA
Tickets are free but should be reserved in advance via Eventbrite.

A public lecture by
James Colliander, Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences

A 2012 report commissioned by EPSRC measured the enormous impact of mathematical sciences on the UK economy. Ideas from the mathematical sciences are transforming industry sectors. This talk will celebrate the human creativity driving these advances.

Doors open at 5.30pm. The talk will be followed by an informal reception to which all ticket holders are invited.

 



 

May

From Newton and Itô to Rough Paths and Regularity Structures – Calculus for the modern world!

6pm, 30 May 2017
Newhaven Lecture Theatre
ICMS, 15 South College Street
Edinburgh, EH8 9AA
Tickets are free but should be reserved in advance via Eventbrite.

A public lecture by
Terry Lyons, Oxford

Newton, around 1665-7 developed his theory of fluxions which gave us the tools of calculus and differential equations. They provide mathematical models for interacting systems, predict the elliptical orbits of planets, and with their extension to partial differential equations provide the models engineers use to understand much of our physical world. However, the theory is an infinitesimal one that relies on smoothness and is not adapted to the complex oscillatory streams that can arise when there is randomness.

Itô (from 1944 on) broadened the calculus to deal with the models incorporating Brownian type systems that had been introduced by Wiener, Thiele, Einstein and Bachelier some half a century earlier. Stochastic differential equations were also to change the world. Man on the moon, telecommunications, finance, photo-chemistry, … are all deeply impacted.

Rough path theory, and Regularity structures are a next step. They provide a new way to describe complex data streams; it is a description that is top down rather than bottom up and links basic analysis and algebra in unexpected ways. It allows a new calculus of rough differential equations that can capture interactions between vastly extended types of streams.

The ramifications span pure and applied perspectives.

Many models in Physics have been given rigorous mathematical meaning (by Hairer et al.) for the first time.  Very current contributions to data science have also grown out of this theory. The state of the art in labelling human actions from visual data, or in recognising finger gestures on the screen of a mobile phone as (Chinese) handwriting are good examples. An app using rough path technology has been downloaded to the android over a million times and used for billions of decisions.

Doors open at 17:30. The talk will be followed by an informal reception to which all ticket holders are invited.



 

Polynomials, braids and you

6.15pm, 23 May 2017
Newhaven Lecture Theatre
ICMS, 15 South College Street
Edinburgh, EH8 9AA
Tickets are free but should be reserved in advance via Eventbrite.

A public lecture for curious people of any age by
Benson Farb, Chicago

Whether you like it or not, polynomials run your life : almost every equation that describes the world is either a polynomial or is well-approximated by a polynomial.  In 2500 years of studying polynomials, we've learned a lot, but polynomials still have mysteries to reveal.  Mathematicians are now understanding solutions to polynomial equations in a vastly more profound way than has been done in the past. They are doing this by relating polynomials to configuration spaces (e.g. of satellites orbiting the Earth, or of robots on a factory floor), to braids, to hyperplanes, and more. Most remarkably, these seemingly disparate topics are all part of one beautiful, profound, intertwined picture.

Doors open at 17:45. The talk will be followed by an informal reception to which all ticket holders are invited.

PLEASE NOTE THE SLIGHTLY LATER THAN NORMAL STARTING TIME

 


 

Rogue waves, tsunamis and solitons

6pm, 10 May 2017
Newhaven Lecture Theatre
ICMS, 15 South College Street
Edinburgh, EH8 9AA
Tickets are free but should be reserved in advance.

A public lecture by
Peter Clarkson, Kent

In 1834, John Scott Russell, a Scottish engineer, naval architect and shipbuilder, first observed a solitary wave whilst riding on horseback beside the narrow Union canal near Edinburgh. Scott Russell did extensive experiments in a laboratory scale wave tank in order to study the phenomenon he had observed. Subsequently, in the nineteenth century French, English and Dutch scientists undertook studies related to the solitary wave observed by Scott Russell.

 It was not until the 1960's when scientists began to use modern computers, that Russell's ideas began to be fully appreciated. In 1965, Zabusky and Kruskal's numerical calculations led them to call these solitary waves "solitons". Subsequently it has been discovered that solitons arise in numerous applications such as water waves and fibre optics. Phenomena such as rogue waves (also known as freak waves), which are large unexpected, suddenly appearing waves that can be extremely dangerous, and tsunamis are related to solitons.

 In this talk, I shall describe some of the history of the soliton and illustrate some of the applications.

Doors open at 17:30. The talk will be followed by an informal reception to which all ticket holders are invited.

 



 

April

Why is Life so Complicated? Can my Computer Help?

5.30pm, 10 April 2017
Anatomy Lecture Theatre
Summerhall, Edinburgh
Tickets are £8.50 (£6.50, £5.00) and available from the Edinburgh International Science Festival box office. 

An interactive presentation by
Sarah Harris, Leeds

Our contribution to the 2017 Edinburgh International Science Festival is a discussion of complex computer simulations and whether or not they can help us analyse our daily life.  Computer simulations are capable of generating massive amounts of data, but this needs to be processed and analysed before it becomes useful. Computational biophysicist Dr Sarah Harris argues that the need to find simple mathematical and physical theories to explain our observations is even stronger now than before the advent of computation.

What would you do with simulations?

What invention would you design? What event would you choose to simulate? How about using simulation as a predictive tool for future developments? If it can be imagined, and if it can be written as a set of rules with logic, mathematics or choices, then in principle, you can simulate it. Bring along your Dream Supercomputer Simulation or send it via our Text Wall (instructions here) and be part of the crowd-sourced fun!

After Party!

After the discussion you can try out some of the simulations with members of Sarah's team and chat to her over refreshments in the Library Gallery in Summerhall.  We'll also have a special visit from Wee Archie, the mini-supercomputer made from a Raspberry Pi cluster. Come and meet them all - you don't need a ticket, just drop in between 19:00 and 20:00.

Resources

As well as asking you to think about ideal simulations, our Why is Life So Complicated? page has some links to resources for exploring molecular simulations.  We'll be adding other resouces to the page after the event too.

 


 

Cause or Effect? Looking Beyond Correlation

6pm, 6 April 2017
Newhaven Lecture Theatre
ICMS, 15 South College Street
Edinburgh, EH8 9AA
Admission is free but tickets should be reserved in advance via Eventbrite

A public lecture by
Peter Bühlmann, ETH Zürich

Is it a cause or an effect? This simple but fundamental question is often asked in society and science. Searching for the causes for a certain disease and quantifying their effects on the disease status is a long-standing problem in medical studies. Considering correlations among measured variables is insufficient for distinguishing cause from effect. The classical and well-developed framework for causal inference is based on randomised studies; with the drawback that they are often very expensive or even impossible to do due to ethical reasons. Recent approaches try to ``substitute in part'' the randomised studies by models, algorithms and statistical techniques. Although thought-provoking, they can be particularly attractive in nowadays Big Data settings.

Doors open at 17:30. The talk will be followed by an informal reception to which all ticket holders are invited.

 



 

January

On Growth and Form and Mathematics, D’Arcy Thompson, 100 years on

6pm, 24 January 2017
Newhaven Lecture Theatre
ICMS, 15 South College Street
Edinburgh, EH8 9AA
Admission is free but tickets should be reserved in advance via Eventbrite.  This event is currently full but please add your name to the waiting list for cancellations via the booking form. We may be able to accommodate you at fairly short notice.

2017 sees the centenary of the publication of the founding work of mathematical biology. In On Growth and Form by D'Arcy Thompson explores the connections between mathematics and biological growth. It has become a highly influential work for many fields in the arts and sciences.

To mark the occasion we have invited Professor Alain Goriely, University of Oxford to give a public lecture on the importance of D'Arcy Thompson's work for contemporary mathematical biologists today.  The main talk will be prefaced by a short introduction to Thompson's life and wider interests by Dr Matthew Jarron, Curator of the D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum, University of Dundee. This event is timed to coincide with A Sketch of the Universe at the City Art Centre, Edinburgh, which showcases art acquired by the University of Dundee Museum Services for the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum. There will be many more events marking this centenary, which will be posted on the On Growth and Form 100 website when they are announced.