Imminent changes to the facilities at ICMS

We are soon to be joined at 15 South College Street by two groups from The University of Edinburgh, School of Informatics and also by the Maxwell Institute Graduate School in Analysis and its Applications (MIGSAA). Bringing new groups into the building means that the way the space is used is changing.

ICMS will occupy the ground and top floors of the building with Informatics sandwiched in between.  The ICMS reception will remain on level 3.  The MIGSAA will have offices on the top floor and a new classroom on the ground floor.

How this affects visitors and clients:
1. ICMS will not be able to host any meetings from October to the end of December 2014.
2. A new seminar room and dining area for ICMS events will be created on the ground floor. This will be up and running in January 2015.
3. The lecture theatre will stay as it is but will be used by the MIGSAA until their new classroom is ready in January 2015. So the theatre will not be available for other uses for the remainder of 2014.

Work has already started converting levels 2 and 3 into office space for Informatics. Work will begin on the ground floor in October following our three September workshops.

When the work is completed we will have a flexible facility for hosting events. We look forward to welcoming you to our new-look facilities in 2015.

Please remember that ICMS is available to the mathematics community for seminars, colloquiums and workshops but priority is always given to our core EPSRC workshops and we do not run events in August. We have a busy calendar of events planned for 2015 see for details.

Maths for research – and for fun

We’re about to hit a really busy patch here at ICMS. July sees three week-long research workshops without a break, then there’s a reshuffle of offices in August and another tranche of workshops in September.

Professor Angus MacIntyre

Professor Angus MacIntyre

The first of these workshops honours the retirement of Professor Angus MacIntyre, who was our first Scientific Director from 1994-2002. ICMS flourished under his guidance and has continued to build on the foundation laid by Professor MacIntyre. We are therefore delighted to be hosting Recent developments in the applications of model theory to algebraic, analytic and diophantine geometry from 7-11 July.  The workshop aims to paint a broader picture of the current range of applied model theory, giving the whole community a feel for the latest results and the current directions of research in the field.  It is also a welcome opportunity to celebrate Professor MacIntyre’s contribution to mathematical life in general.

You can find links to full details of all of our forthcoming research workshops on the ICMS website. The programme for 2015 will be added as events become finalised.

We did say something about fun in the title, didn’t we? There are a couple of public events coming up in the next few weeks too.  The first sounds particularly entertaining.

Our colleagues at University of Edinburgh School of Mathematics are holding an evening of mathematical card magic in our lecture theatre on 4 July.  Tickets can be reserved  here. If they are all taken, you can join the waiting list for cancellations on the same site.

As part of the workshop on Function theory in several complex variables in relation to modelling uncertainty Professor Malcolm Smith will give a public lecture on Inerters and Formula 1 at 6pm on Tuesday 22 July . Details and ticket reservations will be available from the ICMS website in the next day or two.  Keep an eye on our website or follow us on Facebook or Twitter for updates.

Finally, some of you may be wondering about the outcome of the nomination that was the subject of our previous blog post.  We are very proud to say that Madeleine Shepherd (ICMS Comms Officer) was runner up in the Individual Category of the Heriot-Watt Universiy Principal’s Public Engagement Prize.  This well-deserved recognition for her innovative work for ICMS and beyond.  We extend our congratulations to the winners – you can read about them here.

Nomination News!

Yesterday we received some great news from our colleagues at Heriot-Watt Engage.  Our Communications Officer, Madeleine Shepherd has been shortlisted for the Principal’s Public Engagement Prize 2014.  This builds on our previous success in the field.  In 2012, ICMS won the Group Category of the same prize.  The award money funded our winter lecture series on the Mathematics of Planet Earth.

We’re looking forward to the announcement of the award on 18 June and wish Madeleine the best of luck!


Muß Es Sein? – Epigraph to a String Quartet

A public lecture by Yang-Hui He (City University London, Nankai University & University of Oxford)

18.00 Tuesday 13 May
Newhaven Lecture Theatre, ICMS, 15 South College Street, Edinburgh

Tickets include the reception after the lecture and are free. They should be reserved via Eventbrite

“Muß es sein?” So wrote Beethoven in an epigraph to his last string quartet. In today’s great quest for the Theory of Everything, physicists are led to ask the same: Must it be so? Do all interactions and all particles of nature fundamentally originate from a cosmic string quartet?

In this talk, we take the audience on a bird’s-eye view of the theory of superstrings, what is it and why it is important. We will emphasize the wealth of ideas which has revolutionized the world of pure mathematics.

Yang-Hui He studied at Princeton University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Physics, with a Certificate in Applied Mathematics and a Certificate in Engineering, Summa cum Laude. He then obtained a Distinction at the Mathematical Tripos at Cambridge University before moving to MIT where he obtained his PhD in theoretical and mathematical physics. Yang continued with postdoctoral work in the University of Pennsylvania before joining Merton College, University of Oxford as the FitzJames Fellow in Mathematics and then the UK STFC Advanced Fellow in theoretical physics. Yang joined City University in 2010 as Reader in Mathematics and was concurrently awarded the Yangtze Chair Professorship at Nankai University by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

Party Hard! at Edinburgh International Science Festival 2014

EISF_Corporate_Identity_RGB_72dpiOur local science festival returns from 5th to 20th April and ICMS is proud to have Dr Colva Roney-Dougal, Senior Lecturer in Pure Mathematics from the University of St Andrews to deliver Party Hard!, our Edinburgh International Science Festival lecture on 10th April 2014. Colva’s research concerns the development of fast methods to compute with billions of symmetries, in less time than it takes to fetch a coffee. As well as public lectures, her mathematics popularisation includes radio shows with Brian Cox and Robin Ince, and with Melvyn Bragg.

Party Hard! – the mathematics of connections, will investigate how many guests need to come to a party to guarantee at least five will know one another or at least five will be mutual strangers. She’ll also look at the many applications of the mathematics of connections; from friendship, through marriage to the spread of disease. Along the way Colva will show how infinity plays some very peculiar tricks and discover some unexpected links between mathematicians and Hollywood stars.

The talk will take place in The Red Lecture Theatre, Summerhall, Edinburgh on Thursday 10 April at 5.30pm. Tickets are £8 (concessions £4-£6) and can be booked through the Edinburgh International Science Festival website where you’ll also find venue details and a location map.

In addition, ICMS staff member, Madeleine Shepherd and Dr Julia Collins, Maths Outreach Officer at the University of Edinburgh have collaborated over the last year on Botanica Mathematica, a new textile art and mathematics project. Some readers might recall their talk about this project in December 2013. Their knitting and crochet pattern for Binary Bonsai trees has travelled the world via the internet. Crafters from the US, Europe and the UK have sent back a forest of little trees that make up the finished art work. There’s still time to join in if you want to knit a tree too – see the project blog for details. Botanica Mathematica will be on display as part of the Science at the HeArt of Things art trail, also at Summerhall so why not come early to Colva’s lecture and take in some science-based art too?

A Chaotic Afternoon with Ettiene Ghys – guest lecture and film event.

We’re really pleased to be hosting  A Chaotic Afternoon with Ettiene Ghys on Thursday 20 March.

Etienne Ghys is a distinguished French mathematician who is also interested in the popularization of mathematics, especially chaos theory.

The programme will have two parts:  a somewhat technical lecture, assuming that the audience knows what differential equations are, and a showing of a film on chaos theory produced by Ghys, which will be accessible to the layman.

Both parts of the afternoon, technical lecture (part1) and film/talk (part2), are open to the public and can be booked via the separate Eventbrite links (see below). If you wish to attend both parts please make 2 separate bookings.

1-3pm – Part 1:  A brief history of dynamics

According to Y. Ilyashenko, there are three main steps in the history of dynamical systems.

  1. Newton : Given a differential equation, find its solutions
  2. Poincaré : Given a differential equation, say something about its solutions
  3. Smale : A differential equation is NOT given : say something about its solutions!

The goal of Etienne Ghys, in this talk, is to explain this joke. This will be an opportunity to discuss some fundamental examples like periodic motions, quasi-periodic motions, Smale’s horseshoe and the famous Lorenz butterfly, paradigmatic of chaos. More importantly, he will try to describe some of the current conjectures. Unfortunately, one has to admit that this story, since Newton, is nothing more than a succession of conjectures by great mathematicians, shown to be wrong by their successors. Nevertheless, Ghys believes that we do understand the situation better than Newton!

For more information, see this article in English or in French:

Tickets for this lecture are available via Eventbrite

3-4pm – Tea/coffee break


4:00-5.30pm – Part 2: A brief cinematic history of dynamics for the layman

In 2013 Jos Leys, Aurélien Alvarez and Etienne Ghys produced a film on chaos theory, for the layman. Basically, this film tells the story of dynamics from Newton to current research, explained in an elementary way. The total length of the film is about two hours, so that it wouldn’t be reasonable to show it from A to Z. Instead, Etienne Ghys will show some extracts, to explain the ‘making of‘, and discuss it with the audience. The complete film can be downloaded here:

Tickets for this film/talk are available via Eventbrite

This event is a Scottish Topology Seminar
Organiser: Andrew Ranicki,
The Scottish Topology Seminar is supported by the Glasgow Mathematical Journal Trust.

Enthralled by mathematical magic!

Doors Open Day 2013 by ICMS News Photos
Doors Open Day 2013, a photo by ICMS News Photos on Flickr.

Our open day on 28 September was attended by around 200 people. We hope they were all as delighted as this young man being shown mathematical card tricks by Dr Julia Collins, Mathematics Engagement Officer at University of Edinburgh.

Other activities around the building included an arithmetical version of scrabble, short videos from the Mathematics of Planet Earth project, a textile art installation from Botanica Mathematica and puzzles and games such as a Penrose tiling puzzle shaped like chickens!

Click on the picture above to see more photos from the day on our Flickr account.