The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) hosted an Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) lecture in December 2013. The talk was presented by Dr Richard Elwes on the subject of 'Maths that makes the modern world'. The seminar included a number of topics from searching the internet to managing a manufacturing company. It’s commonly understood that mathematics plays a central role in today's hi-tech civilisation, but what sort of maths? The seminar presented familiar ideas from algebra and geometry which seem simple and elegant on first sight, but when massively scaled up and implemented on powerful computers, these techniques have truly changed the world.
The lecture was organised by Dr Danielle Bewsher, a senior lecturer in mathematics for the School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences. Danielle sits on the committee of the North West branch of the IMA, the local branch under which UCLan falls. UCLan hosts an IMA NW branch lecture once a year in December. These lectures are open to members of the IMA, UCLan students and staff, and members of the public. The talks are typically aimed at a general audience that are interested in mathematics.
Danielle explained: “When selecting speakers, I try and choose someone who will talk about mathematics beyond what students see in the lecture theatre. This might include interesting mathematical techniques and applications to modern life. I want to attract engaging speakers who are able to enthuse a general audience about the beauty of mathematics.”
Past speakers at the UCLan IMA seminars have included Professor Andrei Zvelindovsky (UCLan) talking about the “Collective Behaviour of birds, fish, ants, humans - Is it Physics, Mathematics or Biology?”, Dr Joel Haddley (University of Liverpool) talking about “Metamathematics: Strange Loops and Incompleteness”, and Professor Simon Cox (Aberystwyth University) discussing “The Mathematics of Soap Films: Show me the (shortest) way to go home.”
The IMA is one of the professional bodies for mathematics in the UK. It draws its membership from academia, industry and education and celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2014. The mathematics degrees at UCLan are accredited by the IMA.