Termcard for Michaelmas Term 2013

Tuesday Week 1, 15th October – The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets

Simon Singh Simon Singh, author of Fermat’s Last Theorem and Big Bang, talks about his latest book, which explores mathematical themes hidden in The Simpsons. Everyone knows that The Simpsons is the most successful show in television history, but very few people realise that its team of mathematically gifted writers have used the show to explore everything from calculus to geometry, from pi to game theory, and from infinitesimals to infinity. Singh will also discuss how writers of Futurama have similarly made it their missions to smuggle deep mathematical ideas into the series.

Tuesday Week 2, 22nd October – Oxford Figures

Prof. Robert Wilson, Pembroke College and Open University This illustrated talk traces the eventful history of Oxford mathematics over the past 800 years, from the founding of the University to the opening of the new Mathematical Institute earlier this month. Included among the expected names are such ‘unlikely’ figures as Geoffrey Chaucer, Christopher Wren, Lewis Carroll and Florence Nightingale. This talk also provides a guided tour of the mathematical sights to be seen around Oxford.

Tuesday Week 3, 29th October – Using Mathematics to Discover New Biology

Prof. Philip Maini, St John’s College In this talk, we will show a number of examples from over the years of how mathematical models have been used to gain new insights into aspects of biology. Examples will include understanding what controls cell movement in early development, how tumour vasculature affects tumour growth, and how we can predict the growth and dynamics of AIDS in India.

Tuesday Week 4, 5th November – Puzzle Hunt!

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Tuesday Week 5, 12th November – Van der Waerden’s Theorem

Prof. Imre Leader, Trinity College, Cambridge Suppose that we have a long line of beads, each of which is red or blue. Can we always find three beads of the same colour, equally spaced? So for example if the 4th, 9th and 14th beads were red then this would count.

Tuesday Week 6, 19th November – The Lavrentiev phenomenon

Sir John Ball, Queen’s College, FRS Innocent-looking problems of the calculus of variations can have different minimizers in different spaces of functions. This can lead, for example, to finite-element methods finding the `wrong’ minimizer. Examples of this and related phenomena will be given, and their philosophical implications for models of nature discussed.

Tuesday Week 7, 26th November – The random graph and its relations

Prof. Peter J Cameron, Queen Mary, University of London In 1963, Erdős and Rényi proved the astonishing result that, if a countably infinite graph is chosen at random by selecting edges independently, there is one particular graph which will almost surely arise: this is the celebrated “random graph”. This graph is met with in many different parts of mathematics, including logic, group theory, Ramsey theory, and topological dynamics. I will talk about it and some of its properties, and some related structures.

Tuesday Week 8, 3rd December – Christmas Party!

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