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
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.
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.
Students on BSc (Hons) Mathematics with Foundation Year are currently making regular presentations on the board in front of the group proving a variety of results from different branches of mathematics and demonstrating their understanding of their use. This includes calculus from first principles, linear algebra, geometrical constructions, statistics and mechanics in various dimensions.
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.
Dr Marina Logares (University of Plymouth) was recently a mentor at a conference on moduli spaces of Higgs bundles, viewed from the perspectives of both algebraic and differential geometry. The workshop was held in Isle of Wight from April 2nd to April 8th, 2017.
Dr. Tom Heinzl visited the DESY XFEL in April. This is a 1.5 million Euro X-ray free electron laser, situated in a 3 km long tunnel near Hamburg, Germany. It has just seen “first light” on 4th May (see http://www.xfel.eu). Tom attended a meeting of the HIBEF User Consortium (see https://indico.desy.de/conferenceDisplay.py?confId=16772), where he gave a talk on “Light-by-light scattering” This is a classically forbidden process that only becomes possible in quantum theory due to particle-anti-particle fluctuations of the vacuum. A variant of this process has recently been observed in heavy ion collisions at CERN (http://cerncourier.com/cws/article/cern/66878). The HIBEF facility combines the DESY XFEL with high-power optical lasers. Such a unique combination may allow the first detection of light-by-light scattering in a purely electromagnetic setting (without recourse to high-energy matter particles such as heavy ions). Tom and collaborators at Plymouth University, Anton Ilderton and Ben King, are providing theory support for the HIBEF experimentalists who want to perform this fundamental physics experiment.
Dr. Ben King, from CMS at Plymouth University, recently visited Dr. Victor Dinu, a researcher at the University of Bucharest. His visit lasted one week. They collaborated on theoretical calculations of laser-particle physics. Ben adapted Victor’s code to work on the computer cluster at Plymouth University. Using forty cores, they were able to obtain a speed-up of about a factor 10. This was just a test run with a real part of the calculation, but it was a success, since the proof of principle of parallelizing the code was demonstrated.
Anton Ilderton, who has been recently hired as a lecturer in this school, recently went to India to a conference in India with the title: Laser Plasma Accelerator. The title of Anton’s talk was: fundamental quantum physics in intense laser fields. The video of the talk is below: