Welcome to the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) blog. The IMA is the UK's learned and professional society for mathematics and its applications. We promote mathematics research, education and careers, and the use of mathematics in business, industry and commerce. Among our activities we produce academic journals, organise conferences and engage with government.

In this blog we will publish mathematical articles and news to reflect the interests of our members who come from a multiplicity of different organisations including university academics, industrial mathematicians, financiers, school teachers, scientists, civil servants etc.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Lessons for mathematical modelling from the global financial crisis

Professor Lyn Thomas (Southampton University) made the long trip up Nottingham Trent University yesterday to give a talk to the IMA East Midlands Branch on 'Lessons for mathematical modelling from the global financial crisis'.

Lyn wanted to talk to us about the crisis, where the problems were, but, to satisfy the audiences' hunger for mathematics, bring out the issues with the models that were used!

An interesting background to consumer finance, for both the US and UK was given, with some big numbers like 1500 billions of debt in the 2000s, up from 400 billions in the 1980s. Though I didn't note down if this figure was dollars or pounds, but, on the scale of it, I don't think that matters too much as it is a lot of money no matter what!     

The historical aspect to the talk was really quite interesting, I'd suspect that the audience, like me, had some interest in finance, but may not have known about some of the specifics that were involved in the crisis, particularly in the US. If you cannot get to this talk elsewhere, then you may wish to find out more about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two companies whom between them had more than 50% of the US mortgage market in 2000.

The timeline of events continued to meander up to the prime time (or should that be sub-prime time) of 2007-2009 where the crisis really hit. Specifics on what happened leading up to and which contributed to the issues seen during this period were explained - this included the modelling!

Lyn summarised with seven key points, the last being:
  • If the model disagrees with common sense think carefully about using it.
The idea of disagreeing with common sense treads the fine line between pushing the boundaries and being able to come up with something new, innovate and useful, or coming up with something that may even cause a global crisis!

The next East Midlands Branch talk is Complex Networks in Biology by Jonathan Crofts (Nottingham Trent University) on 26th January 2012 at the University of Leicester.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Dr. Darren Dancey: "Maths – There’s an App For That!"

Ben Nuttall wrote this guest post about the recent talk to the IMA North West Branch "Maths – There’s an App For That!" by Dr. Darren Dancey, given at Manchester Metropolitan University on 15 November.


This North West regional talk was delivered by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Computer Science lecturer Darren Dancey, whose teaching specialisms include programming and artificial intelligence. Darren also runs an iPhone development course for industry programmers and his research involves Neural Networks, Genetic Algorithms and Decision Trees. Known among students and colleagues for his coffee drinking and vast array of shiny iProducts, we were all keen to hear what he had to tell us about what people were utilising the latest in handheld technology for, with regards to mathematics.

Darren’s presentation involved a visual display of his iPhone screen on to a widescreen television for live demonstrations of the apps he wanted to share with us. We were shown a number of different types of apps – simple addition games for kids, quiz fire maths questions for all ages, interactive number games, a range of calculator apps, all the way to more technical software like Wolfram Alpha and real-time Fractal generators.

The simple games demonstrated were discussed and the group generally thought their usefulness depended on whether they were actually teaching concepts or forcing memory, or whether they were merely games using numbers. It was suggested that for two main reasons, the use of a smartphone for purposes such as learning times tables or revising exam topics would be invaluable: children and teenagers love gadgets and anything on them is immediately more attractive; and a smartphone (unlike a parent) will never get bored of asking “What’s 7 times 8?”.

The iPhone comes with a standard calculator, and as Darren demonstrated, rotating the screen yields a set of additional functions – the sort of thing you get in a standard scientific calculator. However there are alternatives available in the app store – such as an RPN financial calculator, or a more modern interactive calculating space:  an app called Soulver, which allows text to be entered in human readable form, such as “£30 per night x 3 nights” and each line entered stores its calculated value in a side column, accessible for following calculations. See acqualia.com/soulver

The Wolfram Alpha app, Darren explained, is a product developed by the makers of technical computing software Mathematica, and was initially sold for £30 on the app store despite the web version being available through any phone’s web browser. The price dropped several times, now under £2.00. I recently purchased it for my Android phone at just £1.89. Wolfram Alpha is described as a computational knowledge engine. It works like a search engine – you just enter your query – but rather than showing search results potentially leading to an answer, it interprets your input and provides whatever it thinks you were looking for: the solution to a calculation (normal operators +-x/, derivatives, integrals); a conversion (currency, units), ask for information about a topic (ODEs, pi, Riemann Hypothesis) or discipline-specific definitions or calculations from the whole range of mathematics – discrete maths, dynamical systems, finance, topology. Darren demonstrated a good example of its power of interpretation with the query “earth population / surface area” which yielded the result “34.5 people per square mile” as well as a graph showing the growth of population and some unit conversions. The latest review on the app store is currently “Love this app. It's like having a geek in your pocket.” – Take a look at the online version (see examples) at wolframalpha.com

We were also shown a video entitled ‘Interactive Exploration of a Dynamical System’ in which Apple user interface designer Bret Victor demonstrates the effectiveness of using the interactivity of using a tablet (his iPad) to explore the nature of evolving systems such as the predator-prey model. Rather than looking at so-many-x and so-many-y a system is changing, we can use the tip of our finger to drag the initial values up and down and see the effects these changes have right in front of our eyes. A fantastic video well worth a watch at worrydream.com.


Ben Nuttall is a mathematician & web developer in Manchester. His blog is at BenNuttall.com.

The next IMA North West Branch talk is 'Metamathematics: Strange Loops and Incompleteness' by Dr Joel Haddley (University of Liverpool) on Tuesday 6th December 2011 at University of Central Lancashire, Preston.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

15th ECM Conference (Bristol)

A pre-conference social was held in the Hope and Anchor pub on Friday 18th November and 4 people attended and made a post-it note dodecahedron (http://twitpic.com/7fyuip) while talking and drinking.

The main event was held at the University of Bristol on Saturday 19th November. There were 5 key lectures, starting with one on "Chaos in Crystals" by Jens Marklof, followed by a talk about "Group Theory and a UKMT Appeal" by Geoff Smith. After lunch Snezana Lawrence spoke on the history of mathematics and why it matters so much and then Sean Collins gave a talk called "What can we learn from the birds and the bees? Optimality Models in Behavioural Ecology". Following the final tea break Mike Thelwall spoke about "Quanitative analysis of the social web from Twitter to YouTube".

Then while the votes for best talk were counted Erica Tyson gave an overview of the IMA and her work as the University Liaison Officer. The ECMG committee then introduced themselves and Ben Dias announced who had won the certificate for best talk.

During the coffee and lunch breaks the dodecahedron circulated with a stack of post-its and a group effort was made to construct a new one, but it remained incomplete. A rubiks cube with pictures rather than colours on each side was also solved in the breaks.

Following the conference 16 of the delegates attended a post-conference meal to continue the socialising.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Exploring uses of mathematics in fiction with Tony Mann

Tony Mann gave a lecture to the IMA East Midlands Branch last night, 'From Sylvia Plath to Bad Sex: uses of mathematics in fiction', in the Ken Edwards Building at the University of Leicester.

Tony looked at a variety of ways in which fiction has involved mathematics and mathematicians.This included fiction by mathematicians and authors who once trained as mathematicians, fiction based on mathematical ideas, fiction using mathematical structures and fiction using real and fictional mathematicians as characters.

At one point Tony spoke about the use of historical mathematicians in fiction. He gave several examples of use of Newton in fiction, some of which were more accurate and fairer than others. Since some books are written by authors who also write non-fiction, and some mix factual and fictional elements, this raised some questions which I found interesting: Does it matter how historically correct fictional portrayals of real mathematicians are? How reasonable is it to fictionalise a living person? Does the audience always realise what they are reading is fictional?

Tony maintains a list of categorised mathematical fiction on his website, originally compiled alongside his article 'From Sylvia Plath's The bell jar to the Bad Sex Award: a partial account of the uses of mathematics in fiction' (2010, BSHM Bulletin: Journal of the British Society for the History of Mathematics, 25(2):58-66), and recommended another list by Alex Kasman.

You can view a recording of a similar talk, 'Tony Mann: Some Uses Of Mathematics In Fiction', given by Tony to the London Knowledge Lab Maths-Art Seminar.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Math Book wins BSHM Neumann Prize

Last Christmas I received a copy of The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension (Sterling Publishing) by Dr Clifford A Pickover, which offers 250 milestones in the history of mathematics. I had read a review of this in iSquared Magazine (issue 10, p. 32) which called the book "a valuable source of knowledge on mathematics, which illustrates perfectly the richness of both its ancient and recent history... [while demonstrating] that mathematics is very much a living, breathing subject with a long and exciting future ahead".

This is an attractive book in which each milestone is given a two page spread, with one page a beautiful illustration and the other a short description of the achievement, written clearly and concisely. It is very well suited to a mathematician's coffee table, being a book that could be read from cover to cover or dipped into. The book opens at c. 150 million B.C. with ants counting their steps to measure distances, and goes through to 2007, two years before the book was published, to the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis. In between, the milestones are wide-ranging and show both the elegance and beauty of mathematics itself and its importance in science and engineering.

This evening, The Math Book has been awarded the Neumann Prize 2011 by the British Society for the History of Mathematics (BSHM) during a lecture at Gresham College in London. This prize is awarded every two years for the best book in the history of mathematics aimed at a broad audience. You can read an interview with the author, Cliff Pickover, on the occasion of the award.

I am pleased that the excellent book has been rewarded in this way and that this prize acknowledges the contribution of writing on mathematics for a broad audience.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Celebrating Neptune's first birthday with Chris Linton

Voyager image of Neptune
(Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Prof. Chris Linton (Loughborough) opened his talk in Loughborough University's Schofield Building with the above picture of Neptune, taken by the Voyager spacecraft in 1989. Earlier this year, on 12th July 2011, Neptune arrived for the first time at the same heliocentric longitude as when it was discovered on 23rd September 1846. In this sense, then, 12th July 2011 was one Neptunian year since the discovery of the planet.

Chris argued that the interesting element of this story to mathematicians was that Neptune was discovered first through theory. Chris recounted the story of the discovery of Uranus by Herschel in 1781. Uranus followed an orbit that differed quite quickly (by 1788) from predictions. The predictions were recalculated to take into account the perturbations due to Jupiter and Saturn and this helped for a while, but still Uranus deviated from the predicted path by the early 1800s. Unless Newton's Laws were wrong, there must be a planet outside Uranus which was affecting its orbit.

Chris explained how this novel theoretical challenge was taken up by John Couch Adams and Urbain Le Verrier, giving some detail of the models formed and simplifications used to arrive at a result. Both independently predicted limits for the position of this extra-Uranian planet and Chris gave an account of several searches that were undertaken. The first of these to succeed in observing the new planet and recognising it as such was Johann Galle. Chris spoke about a row that erupted over the discovery but in the end tempers cooled and the new planet was named Neptune.

Chris also briefly outlined the example of Vulcan, the theorised planet between Mercury and the Sun that was causing a discrepancy in Mercury's orbit. In fact, this was found to be a limitation of Newton's theory; the discrepancy eventually being accounted for by Einstein's general relativity in 1915.

The recent Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for the observations that the rate at which the universe is expanding is accelerating, a discrepancy from theory that led to the theory of dark energy and dark matter. Chris left us with the food for thought: is dark energy a Neptune situation (something out there we can't yet see) or a Vulcan situation (a limitation of current theory)?

Overall this was a highly enjoyable talk presented to a large audience, including a sizable contingent of sixth form students. I hope this brief account, skipping much of the detail, has given some flavour of the experience.

The next East Midlands Branch talk is From Sylvia Plath to Bad Sex: uses of mathematics in fiction by Tony Mann (University of Greenwich/British Society for the History of Mathematics) on 15th November 2011 at the University of Leicester.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Market Research

The ECMG Committee have had an idea to hold a Skills Workshop in addition to the biannual ECM Conferences as members have previously indicated that they either like the skills workshops or they enjoy the conference part most and we thought that we might be able to get more attendees at both events in future if they were kept separate.

This proposal has yet to go to the Executive Board, at this stage we are trying to do some market research to see whether the membership like our idea or not and to gauge whether or not it would be feasible.

Our initial thoughts were that if we held one workshop a year in London, possibly on a Wednesday (as students don't have so many lectures then) and possibly on the day prior to the Mathematics 20XX conference then the two events might benefit from each others' success.

So we would like to have some feedback. Particularly from people who have attended our events in the past, but also from people who may consider attending our events in future.

We'd like to know if you like the conferences as they are with the occasional morning skills workshop and the afternoon or if you would prefer the two types of event to be separate and whether or not you would attend the skills workshops (and/or the conferences) in future.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Mathematics and the Cutty Sark - London Branch Meeting

On Thursday 13th October the London Branch of the IMA had their first public meeting. This was hosted by the University of Greenwich with Professor Chris Bailey (Greenwich) speaking on the Mathematics behind the Saving of the Cutty Sark.

The talk began with a brief introduction to the ship, why it needed restoration and a glimpse of what it will look like next year - just in time for the Olympics!

Chris gave a fascinating insight into the work that his team and others had done on the conservation and preservation of the ship and the simulation models that had been designed. These mathematical models needed to analyse the stresses and strains incurred when taking the ship apart and putting it back together without causing any damage. Because no one was allowed to touch the ship before the work started, a scaled down physical model also had to be built to test results of the mathematical model. Ultrasound scans were used to see where the ship was suffering from decay and corrosion.

These modelling techniques, although common-place when designing new products, have not been widely used in the conservation of old structures. As well as the focus on restoration it was also necessary to preserve the life of the ship for future generations. Again this is established practice in the design of new equipment but much harder on something that is already very old with an unknown history.

The talk sparked a lot of interest in the audience and generated some thought provoking questions.

After the talk there was a short discussion about the future of the London Branch and the variety and timings of meetings that could be held. Further discussions concerning this continued in the Trafalgar pub.

If you were unable to come to the meeting but would like to get involved in the London Branch please email Noel-Ann Bradshaw (n.bradshaw@gre.ac.uk) who will pass your details on to those concerned.

Friday, 7 October 2011

6 months, how long is that?

I got thinking about the question in the title of this blog through an activity that I do on a weekend...

Outside of work, one of the things I do is to volunteer to help manage a weekly running event. This is a 5km timed run, which is free to enter and happens every Saturday morning across parks all over the country. It serves many purposes, one of the main ones being to encourage people to take some regular exercise, no matter what their level of fitness is. Although there are 'fast' runners there are many more 'not-so-fast' runners and, as such, the events are very sociable affairs.

As more of these parkruns begin and become established it is always the case that anniversaries for each particular course are celebrated. These are normally the 1 year, 2 year anniversary or the like. Our first event was on 16th April, so does that mean we would have a 6 month anniversary on the 16th October?

Overlooking that the 16th October is a Sunday, and the events only run on a Saturday, the fact that the events are weekly means that the 8th October is the 26th event, which, given there are 52(.143, or .286 in a leap year) weeks in a year, does this date not warrant the 6 month anniversary?

This 26 week idea does seem to make more sense in the context of the situation, yet it wouldn't necessarily in another situation...As it  happens I got married on the 17th April and I certainly wouldn't contemplate saying to the wife that we could have a little 6 month celebration on the 9th October...that would just be silly, wouldn't it?!?

Saturday, 10 September 2011

British Science Association 2011

The British Science Association has a long tradition going back to 1831, when it was founded as the British Association for the Advancement of Science to:
give a stronger impulse and a more systematic direction to scientific inquiry; to promote the intercourse of those who cultivate Science in different parts of the British Empire with one another and with foreign philosophers; to obtain more general attention for the objects of Science and the removal of any disadvantages of a public kind that may impede its progress.
According to the British Science Association history website, from which that quote was taken, the early annual meetings included the coining of the word 'scientist' and the first demonstration of wireless transmission.

Today the annual meeting is called the British Science Festival and this is one of Europe's largest science festivals. The 2011 meeting is being held from today until Thursday 15th September in Bradford and is well worth a visit.

The IMA website has more about the British Science Festival and a downloadable Mathematical Sciences Programme of Events. The mathematical sciences programme includes talks on statistics in sport, maths magic, maths of waves, prime number sequences and the impact of maths on science and culture, as well as a chance to catch the maths and stats buskers.

Thursday, 1 September 2011


I've been thinking for some time about what to write in a post on this blog, only I didn't really know what to say.

So I thought I would tell you a little story about how I was inspired by DrMaths (Steve Humble) to do some maths on my fridge last Friday after work.

Steve has been tweeting number facts as @DrMaths for some time and last Friday's was
If you square 1, 5 and 6 you get 62. There are three different numbers you can square to get 62! Its the smallest number with this property
By which I thought he meant there were three sets of three numbers that when squared would add up to 62.

Almost immediately I figured out in my head that 2^2+3^2+7^2=62, but for the life of me I couldn't work out another way.

So I got out my board marker and sat on my kitchen floor and started doing maths on my fridge. You can see photographic evidence of the results below. I am certain that I've proved (by brute force) that there are only 2 ways to this answer and the smallest number with three sets of three summed square numbers is 101.

I wish to add here that DrMaths did clarify in a later tweet to someone who asked about it
too few words used badly! "two distinct squares"
I then went a bit further and started working out prime numbers and decided that 1^2+2^2+6^2=41 is the smallest one of these "sum of 3 squares" numbers that is prime. I then wondered which would be the smallest prime that had two distinct sums. It seems the answer is 89.

While of course 101 is both the smallest integer and the smallest prime number with three distinct sums of this form.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

July - gone but not forgotten!

Well, it seems like we missed out the month of July on the IMA blog, but alas the work and activities of the IMA were still very much ongoing. Infact, new territory was covered...

...with the 1st IMA Online Branch Talk, which took place on 21st July!

An introduction and a short article depicting the idea behind this can be seen on the IMA website.

The recording of 'An interactive talk on mathematical puzzles, given by Peter Rowlett, can be seen below:

At the end we asked for feedback and were pleased that people took the time to do this. We were also pleased with what people said about the event, with comments like: 

This was a great idea and the connection was really good, too. It's a great way of getting a group of people who are spread out geographically to meet interactively. Great Stuff!

I am especially happy that this talk was online and didn't require travel as I'm not very well and I could still attend and have fun.

We are now looking to arrange more such talks, and will post details of them when they are finialised.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Favourite numbers, and other nonsense

Alex Bellos is asking people for their favourite numbers. This is an international survey in which people are asked whether they have a favourite number or not and, if they do, the reasons for their choice, plus, optionally, a few minor demographic details. Alex is getting some press for this, with recent appearances on the Today programme and other radio programmes.

On the Math/Maths Podcast recently, Samuel Hansen and I had a chat with James Grime and Samuel spoke with Alex Bellos about favourite numbers. These items caused Christian Perfect to get in touch and he joined us on the most recent episode to give, in his words, a robust defence of having a favourite number. At the recent Maths in the City awards event Christian had asked Marcus du Sautoy what his favourite number was and he said he didn't have one until the press kept asking him for his. This led us into a discussion about the media. I find it irritating that a radio presenter has a mathematician on their show and feels "what is your favourite number?" is an appropriate question. I regard it as silly. Christian said he didn't think it was a silly question because people have favourite all-sorts-of-things. Samuel said, while it was a silly question, he felt it was a decent opening question from someone who didn't understand mathematics. What do you think? I hope you will give your view in the comments below this post.

Part of what I worry about is the proximity of this sort of question to asking mathematicians on the spot questions like, "what is 33 squared?" I feel this has very little to do with mathematics and should be discouraged. Recently I took a puzzles stall to a local science fair and someone commented that one of the puzzles was "proper maths" because it involved numbers. I said I had specifically avoided puzzles that involved arithmetic because there's so much more to mathematics than that.

Next, I saw Christian was speaking on Twitter with Edmund Harriss about a recent blog post Edmund had written on imparting meaning to numbers. In this, Edmund gives a defence of numerology, writing of it as a game which allows space for creativity, one that may mean you accidentally stumble on something meaningful. (Go and read what Edmund says. I'll wait.) I don't disagree with what Edmund says but positive effects and harmless fun aren't my problem with numerology.

I probably don't need to say on a mathematical blog but I don't believe in numerology. This is the process of extracting a number from some context, through some seemingly arbitrary calculation, and then assigning meaning to that number in an attempt to understand the context or make a prediction (perhaps from some cosmic ordering of the universe). I'm tempted to feel that while it is having a positive effect and sometimes even encouraging people to feel better about their lives it's probably tolerable. It isn't hurting anyone. Often, though, the negative consequences seem like to lead to unhappiness or financial loss. Your name derives a particular number? Well then you're in for a cruel fate, or are destined to be a terrible person. Not that you can help what you are called (advice I have read for making these 'calculations' has it that it is only the name on your birth certificate that counts). If you made this calculation and took seriously that you were destined to be denied happiness, prone to addiction or compelled to violence, I can only imagine what this must do to a person. There are other such negative effects. The stock market closed at a value with particular digits? A huge crash must be coming and you should sell your shares immediately, no matter the loss. This is your birth date? Then your true sole mate will have this birth date, and since this isn't the birthday of your current girlfriend, you'd better leave her. (You're happy being with her? Well that isn't really the point.)

Another aspect, I worry, is the possibility of engagement with this sort of thinking contributing to others sorts of poor numerical thinking skills. If numbers have this mystical property, people may find them mystifying. "Three times as likely", you say? That's very likely then! "95% certain to happen", there's no way that won't happen; but a 1 in 20 chance of winning, wow, that could be me! And so on. I worry that being loose with the meaning assigned to numbers in different contexts, even in a meaningless and harmless way, may lead to being loose with numbers in other, more damaging contexts. As Edmund points out, we should play with numbers and not be afraid of them but if we assign meaning to a numerical measure we must remember that meaning when playing and take care when comparing numbers from different contexts.

So, do I think Alex's experiment is silly and should be avoided? Well, no. I think his is an interesting experiment precisely for the reasons he is carrying it out. Not to determine if there is some great cosmic significance in numerical ordering, but as a sociological experiment to investigate the cultural effects of our relationship with meaningless numbers. So go, now, and fill out the survey. It genuinely will only take a minute and you are contributing to an interesting experiment.

Please share your thoughts about this post by clicking on the comments option below.
Peter Rowlett blogs at Travels in a Mathematical World.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Facebook: London University Maths Societies - IMA

Some time ago Peter Rowlett and I set up an IMA presence on Facebook called London University Maths Societies - IMA. The purpose of this page is to publicise mathematical events and meetings happening in the London area that are of interest to London based maths students. An added benefit is that it enables maths students from different universities to network and thus gain support /ideas for Maths Society activities.

We now have a new volunteer who has agreed to take over the administration of this page. James Howe will be graduating from the University of Greenwich this year and is hoping to take up a place on a Masters course in Cryptography at Royal Holloway. He has agreed to update the page regularly.

Please advertise this page to anyone involved in a London University Maths Society. People can email me (n.bradshaw@gre.ac.uk) if they want an event publicised and I will forward these to James.

Friday, 10 June 2011

100 and counting in the land of Twitter

I'm sure you will have seen that the IMA has a Twitter account (http://twitter.com/IMAmaths). Well today it celebrated its 100th Tweet!

The twitter feed has been used as a mechanism to quickly let people know of many things: 

to highlight some maths:

Interesting Maths: 130 is the only integer that is the sum of its first four divisors squared: 1^2 + 2^2 + 5^2 + 10^2 = 130. RT

to highlight mathematics that will be of interest to an event in the coming year:

Can we predict how many medals the UK might win in 2012, and is hosting the Olympics an advantage? RT  

to highlight that people want to know what YOUR favourite number is:

Almost 5000 entries so far in favourite number survey. If you haven't voted yet, please do: RT @alexbellos

to highlight IMA branch events:

Two branch talks coming up. Mon 21st Delineating a Sundial in Bath and Wed 23rd The Golden Section by Richard Simpson in Leicester.

to highlight IMA council events:

IMA Councillors are gathering in Birmingham for the Strategy Review weekend. Loads to discuss!

to highlight that others have talked about work of the IMA: 

There's great ideas for maths in IMA's new Mathematics Matters - energy, optical fibres, networks and more! @mathsinthecity

to highlight funding opportunities:

Funding opportunity through the National HE STEM Programme: RT

and finally, our 100th tweet - to highlight free tools for teaching mathematics and conferences where you can gain CPD on using such tools: 
Geogebra - excellent free tool for teaching maths. Their conference in Austria: (or ) 

So, hopefully it can be seen that the IMA is making good use of modern technology, such as Twitter, to keep the world informed of IMA and related news.

Friday, 27 May 2011


My name is Lizzi Lake, Conference Officer for the IMA - I feel this would be a perfect time to introduce myself and tell you a little more about the conferences coming up this year:

The next conference will be our 3rd Mathematics in Sport conference, on 22 - 24 June 2011 at The Lowry in Salford Quays. Registration is open for this event - please click here for further information for this conference.

The first IMA Conference on Nonlinearity and Coherent Structures follows from 6 - 8 July 2011 at the University of Reading. Registration is open for this event - for further information please click here.

Our 14th Early Career Mathematicians Conference will take place on Saturday 16th July at the University of Leicester - please visit the conference webpage for further information on the programme and to register!

Our first conference on Computational Neuroscience will take place 5 - 7 September at University of Plymouth. There is currently a call for papers for this conference - please follow the link for further information on the conference webpage.

The IMA Conference on the Mathematics of the Climate System will take place 13 - 15 September 2011 at the University of Reading. There is currently a call for papers for this conference which closes on 10 June 2011 - click here for further information on submitting abstracts, registration details and the conference itself.

Our 2nd Conference on Mathematics in Defence will take place on 20th October 2011 at the Defence Academy, Shrivenham. Please visit the conference webpage for further information and to register.

Our 15th Early Career Mathematicians Conference will take place on Saturday 19th November at the University of Bristol - further information will be made available via the conference webpages.

The 13th IMA International Conference on Cryptography and Coding will take place on 12 - 15 December at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford. There is currently a call for papers for this conference that closes on 10 June 2011 - please visit the conference webpage for further information.

We are presently arranging the programme for 2012 - I would like to mention however the IMA's 9th International Conference on Mathematics in Signal Processing which will take place 17 - 20 December 2012 at Austin Court, Birmingham. The call for papers for this event closes on 2 May 2012 - for further information on this conference please visit the conference webpage.

For up to date details of our conference, please do visit our conference pages which include the conference calendar, information for organisers, conference proceedings and past conferences. If you would like to contact the Conference Team, you can reach us by e-mail: conferences@ima.org.uk, or by calling 01702 354020.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Branching out into blogging...

If you're reading this then you've come across the first blog from the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA), so welcome along! 

As detailed at the top of the IMA blog homepage - In this blog we will publish mathematical articles and news to reflect the interests of our members who come from a multiplicity of different organisations including university academics, industrial mathematicians, financiers, school teachers, scientists, civil servants etc.

I thought we could briefly discuss a recent event for this first blog...

Last night was the AGM for the East Midlands Branch of the IMA and the meeting was followed by a talk by Professor Peter Styring on Raising the Public Profile of Mathematics

I think it is worth saying that although Branches are important in helping the Institute meet its charitable objectives, they also provide excellent networking opportunities, something which shouldn't be overlooked and which can be valuable for many people, such as Early Career Mathematicians. People from many fields of work get involved with the IMA and so excellent dialogue can be had at such meetings - there will always be someone there who has an interesting maths question that you've not heard! 

Talks are usually put on without charge and are open to members and non-members. Speakers come as highly recommended and last night Peter was no exception. He gave insight into the many different mediums for 'getting your message out there', with 'new media', such as YouTube being prominent mechanisms.

Hopefully having read this you may consider getting involved with your local branch (if you don't already do so!), or even just look into attending an event.