Mathematics event at Plymouth

On Friday 23rd June, Dr Jenny Sharpe  organized a mathematics event for over 120 year 9 students from over 40 schools from across Devon and Cornwall.

The students were those who attended the year 9 Ri masterclasses in the spring here at Plymouth, at Truro and at Exeter. There were also students who did not attend the masterclasses but had been invited via UKMT as having done particularly well in the Maths Challenge. They are split into small groups and do a number of activities during the day.

Matthew Craven, Yinghui Wei and Julian Sanders ran one hour sessions for the visiting students. Sessions were also run by Keith Gadd, Kerry Burnham from Exeter Maths School, Sam Durbin from the Royal Institution and Margaret Harding from the Further Maths Support Programme.

At the end of the day, there were two plenary lectures by Jeff Ralph from the Royal Statistical Society and Sam Durban – Royal Institution of Great Britain.

Jeff Ralph is the  RSS William Guy Lecturer for 2017-2018. Dr Jeff Ralph is a senior methodologist at the Office for National Statistics (ONS).His talk was ’Society and Teenagers: How statistics reveal the changes in young people’s lives through the last century‘, which explores the way analysis of our daily lives provides insights into how society has changed, and is changing for young people. This includes the role that official statistics play in understanding what we buy, how we are educated and how long we live.



Lectures at summer school about “Extreme Light Infrasructure”,

Dr Anton Ilderton will be lecturing at “ELISS 2017“, the summer school of the EU’s “Extreme Light Infrasructure”, a multi-national initiative in next generation lasers. The aims of the school, which will be held in Cheile Gradisei, Romania, in August, is to introduce PhD students and postdocs to the exciting area of intense laser-matter interactions. Anton will be lecturing on “light by light scattering and vacuum birefringence”; these are hithertoo unobserved quantum processes in which the theoretical physics group at Plymouth have world-leading expertise. Anton will be talking both about the theory underlying light by light scattering and also prospects for observing the process at the Extreme Light Infrastructure.”

Anton’s lectures will be based on the following papers:

Visitor to theoretical physics group

Visitor: “Dr Daniel Seipt from Lancaster University & The Cockroft Institute is currently visiting the centre for three weeks. Daniel received his PhD from the Hemholtz Centre Dresden-Rossendorf in 2012 and moved to Lancaster in 2016. During his visit Daniel will be working with the theoretical physics group on various topics in the areas of quantum field theory in external fields, and intense laser-matter interactions.”

See here for a recent presentation by Dr. Seipt.


Mathematics enrichment

A crucial part of our school’s goal of increasing the interest in mathematics of school children are the mathematics master classes run by Dr. Jenny Sharp. An overview of the classes can be found here.

The mathematics masterclass, at Plymouth University, is a complete programme for students aged 9 to 15 who are able and interested in mathematics.

Some of the topics covered earlier this year were:

  • From Flowers to Fine Art. An investigation into a remarkable number. Jenny Sharp
  • The Greatest Problem of the Human Race. An introduction to the exponential function. Martin Lavelle
  • Conjecture and Proof. What do you think and is it true? Matthew Craven.
  • Biggest and Best? An introduction to linear programming. Luke Cole
  • A Mathematical Medley A circus of activities

The classes are part of a nationwide programme of mathematics masterclasses under the umbrella of the Royal Institution – see

Plenary talk at the international lattice 2017 conference

Soon all the students will have taken their exams and submitted their final coursework. Over the summer, the staff have more time to work on their research. An important activity is sharing results at international conferences. In the Centre for Mathematical Sciences at Plymouth University, there are four researchers who work in the field of lattice QCD.

Every year the progress in the field of lattice field theory is reviewed at large international conference. This year the lattice 2017 conference is in Granda Spain. Typically between 300 and 400 people attend this conference. There are various different types of presentations made at a large conference: poster, parallel talk, and plenary talk.  A plenary talk is presented to the all the people attending the conference and is the most prestigious type of talk.

This year Dr. Antonio Rago from the center is presenting a plenary talk,      to the over 300 strong audience of the lattice conference, with the title: Lattice QCD on new chips: a community summary.


Simulation of cars queuing to board a ferry

One of the modules we teach in the School is called:  Operational Research and Monte Carlo Methods. The module involves very few lectures, with the emphasis on the students working in groups on practical problems via case studies.  At the end of last week, the students presented their analysis of queuing of cars boarding  a ferry. It took two mornings for the module leader: Dr. Malgorzata Wojtys to view all the presentations.

Additional security checks on cars boarding a ferry were required. This slowed down the cars entering the ferry. So the students were asked to design additional scenarios, such as adding more security booths, or opening the ticket booths for longer, so that more cars boarded the ferry on time. The software used was SIMUL8.


Geospatial Python

Although writing computer programs is sometimes thought of as a solitary activity, there are many important social aspects. For example, it is important to be able to find expertise, if you are stuck on writing an application. Dr. Tomasz Szyrowski , a recent graduate of our School has organized a user group for the python programming language.   The name of the user group is PyPlym.

On the 27th April there was a meeting of PyPlym. Three staff members from Mathematics and one from computer science attended. There was a useful practical session, where code to modify the sensor output from a mobile phone was added to KML file, which could be  displayed in Google Earth. There were two talks as well.

As part of our Mathematics with High Performance Computing degree we teach Python in the second year.