Entrance hall of the ICMSMathematics for measurement

In January/February 2017, ICMS hosted a workshop on Maths for Measurement

Within the overarching theme of "mathematics for measurement" the first objective of this workshop was to bring together internationally leading mathematical scientists with expertise in: data assimilation; uncertainty quantification; probabilistic numerics'; inference in complex systems and statistical model comparison; and high performance scientific computing, in order to showcase the state-of-the-art, share expertise and initiate new collaborations within academia and beyond.  The organisers were keen to encourage the UK mathematical community to engage more fully with current activities in metrology.

The workshop brought together metrology experts from NPL, metrology labs from across Europe and academics across a number of fields. The programme includes a broad range of topics.  Discussion sessions considered how this new community can interact in the future.  We hope to see them back at ICMS in the future!


Delegates at the Maths for Measurement workshop 2017

 

 

Whilst the workshop was on, we took the opportunity to speak to the delegates in a bit more detail.


Alison Ramage, University of Strathclyde


Alison is a Reader in Computational & Industrial Maths at the University of Strathclyde

Tell me about today's event and your role in it

I am one of the organisers of the workshop.  This workshop is bringing together mathematicians, statisticians and people from National Measurement Institutes to consider mathematical issues with measurement and uncertainty.

What brought you to this area of research?

Strathclyde and Surrey are strategic partners with NPL, so we have a great opportunity to establish new links and enter new collaborations.  This workshop is part of that.

Other than exploring maths, what are the benefits of taking part?     

Meeting people, networking, making contacts for the future.  Finding new areas where you have something in common with other researchers.

What will you take back to your [day job/research/studies]?

In general, some  research ideas in new areas.  In particular, with one particular NPL colleague, we will follow up and see if we can develop a new preconditioner for his problem.

Have you met interesting people, and if so, what connections have you made?

Yes, it is interesting to meet the non-academics in this area in particular, looking at the differences in our jobs and the things they have in common. For example, I’ve met people from the measurement labs in France & Germany – I’d never normally get the opportunity to meet people from those organisations.

Do you have any advice for first-time ICMS attendees? 

Make the most of the time away from the everyday stresses and strains to focus on the research. Network and socialize.

Have you been to many other conferences? How does ICMS differ?

It is smaller than most of the other conferences, and  good that you can talk to everyone at the workshop.  The facilities (e.g. working wifi) have been great.

If you could solve one maths problem, what would it be?

I’d like to find an all-purpose iterative method for non-symmetric linear systems.

Do you have any thoughts regarding how we can raise the profile of maths?

Social Media helps.  I have links with the European Woman in Maths group – and I read their posts due to the links/adverts that appear on Facebook.  It would never occur to me to look up the blogs to see what is happening, but the social media link prompts me to follow the stories/latest news etc.

Do you have any thought on how diversity in mathematics can be improved?

Again social media can help.  Getting into schools is key.  Better retention/promotion policies within departments would also help.

Who is your favourite mathematician and why?

Gauss – he was one of the first to combine matrix theory & numerical analysis, which is related to my area of work.

 

 Russell Davies, Cardiff University


Russell is an honorary distinguished professor at  Cardiff University

Tell me about today's event and your role in it

This meeting brings together applied mathematicians, numerical analysists, statisticians to consider the maths of measurement.  This represents a rare opportunity for us to get together in a focused workshop with time for proper discussion.  It has been extremely valuable from that point of view.  A huge range of topics have been discussed.  It is clear that although the range of topics is wide, bringing together key ideas from the different communities will enable future cross-fertilisation.  Which is a very positive outcome and potentially significant.

What brought you to this area of research?

I’ve always been involved with maths of experimental data since my PhD.  I’ve enjoyed using deep mathematics to understand the structure of underlying data, the experimental data.  This meeting is a unique opportunity for me to better understand the state of the art.

Other than exploring maths, what are the benefits of taking part?     

Meeting people/practitioners/industrialists.  The social aspects are very enjoyable but also represent an opportunity to discuss mathematics in a leisurely and friendly manner.

What will you take back to your [day job/research/studies]?

New, fresh ideas suggested by the statisticians.  It has given me enough material to dig deeper into my own research and give it a stochastic angle. 

Have you met interesting people, and if so, what connections have you made?

Yes, very interesting people.  I was unfamiliar with one of the delegates UQ work, it’s been a revelation.  I am going back to read all his papers.  The NPL talks were very interesting.  I had some collaboration with them in the past and I was very pleased to see the different avenues they are working in.  The speakers were great.

Do you have any advice for first-time ICMS attendees? 

Attend all the lectures.  Don’t be afraid to chat, ask questions.  Tell people what you are doing and take the opportunity to discuss your research.  Enjoy Edinburgh, it really is a lovely city (even in winter!).

Have you been to many other conferences? How does ICMS differ?

Yes, I attend other conferences/workshops.  ICMS is privileged to hold meetings which are very focussed bringing in specialists from an area, and from outside the area, who can enrich the discussions.  It is special due the small scale of the workshops.  I think the atmosphere and location make it a less intimidating environment for early career researchers.

If you could solve one maths problem, what would it be?

To reset my deterministic work in a stochastic setting, and to see what the uncertainties tell me.

Do you have any thoughts regarding how we can raise the profile of maths?

We need maths communicators who can excite people about today’s deep mathematical questions.

Do you have any thought on how diversity in mathematics can be improved?

There have been improvements in recent years.  With Athena Swan, women in maths is taken seriously by most universities.  We need to encourage all mathematics departments to strive for Athena Swan accreditation.  It is not easy but it can be done.  In recent years there has been lots of overseas appointments in mathematics departments, this is good for diversity.

Who is your favourite mathematician and why?

Newton – for his gift to mechanics.  His propositions, although over 300 years old, are devastatingly beautiful, especially when you first come across them.

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