From MP3s to pandemics – Mathematics is everywhere!

Fifteen Year 12 pupils heard lectures on very different topics from two eminent mathematicians renowned for their communication skills.

This year’s London Mathematical Society (LMS) Popular Lectures at the Institute of Education presented the audience with a brace of lively talks in the field of Applied Mathematics.

In his lecture, What’s in a number? Professor Kevin Buzzard, of Imperial College London, spoke about how much of our work and how many of our leisure interests are now stored in digital format.

""Mp3 music files, digital photos, electronic calendars, the books we read and games we play: all of this has been reduced to numbers. This has strange consequences, with, for example, some numbers being copyrighted, he said. But well before this digital revolution, mathematicians realised that numbers could encode all of mathematics (even the parts of it that are not about numbers). And that, he said, had even stranger consequences.

""Dr Julia Gog, a Fellow of Queen’s College, University of Cambridge, entitled her lecture Epidemics and viruses: the mathematics of disease. She looked at how Mathematics has been applied to help understand and control infectious diseases, from the scale of a single virus particle through to a global influenza pandemic.

The boys enjoyed the opportunity to listen to such eminent people in their field: “I was particularly excited to meet Professor Buzzard,” said Akash Amalean. “His lecture was very thought-provoking.” Bolun Sun was impressed with Dr Gog’s lecture: “It was interesting to see how mathematical theorems are behind biological principles,” he said.