Geometry, cryptography and infinity: delving deeper into Mathematics

Around half of all QE’s Year 12 boys attended a special series of lectures on the application of Mathematics at the respected Institute of Education.

The 71 Sixth-Formers headed to the institute’s Bloomsbury premises for the five lectures from leading speakers and academics.

Assistant Head of Mathematics Wendy Fung said: “Each lecture was inspiring in its own way and has encouraged the boys to delve deeper into the topics they found most engaging on the day. These lectures are a very good way of introducing branches of Mathematics which are not covered as part of the A-level syllabus and of showing the range of applications to which the subject can be applied.”

The lectures were:

  • ""Happy Birthday Fermat’s Last Theorem, writer and broadcaster Simon Singh
  • How big is infinity? Chris Good, University of Birmingham
  • Seven things you need to know about prime numbers, Vicky Neale, University of Oxford
  • Cryptography everywhere, Kenny Paterson, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Geometry and the art of optimisation, Richard Elwes, University of Leeds.

The day was organised by educational organisation The Training Partnership. It included a session with a senior examiner, looking at developing good strategies for examinations and at common pitfalls.

Afterwards, the boys reflected on what the highlights had been for them. “The Simon Singh lecture was really interesting because Fermat’s last theorem looks like such a simple problem and yet it took 358 years to solve,” said Akshay Narayan. Ananth Balaji “really liked the cryptography lecture because it was relevant to society and the presenter was really engaging,” while Tochi Onuora enjoyed learning about the patterns connected with prime numbers.

The boys were accompanied by Head of Mathematics Jessica Steer and Mathematics teacher Geoff Roberts.