Past Public Lecture

18 January 2017
17:00
Stephen Hawking
Abstract

In recognition of a lifetime's contribution across the mathematical sciences, we are initiating a series of annual Public Lectures in honour of Roger Penrose. The first lecture will be given by his long-time collaborator and friend Stephen Hawking.

Registration will open at 10am on 4 January 2017. Please email:

external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk from that time only.

When registering please give your name and affiliation - your position, department & organisation/institution as appropriate. Or if you are a member of the General Public, please say so. Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis with only one place per person. We will only be able to respond if you have a place or are on the waiting list.

We will be podcasting the lecture live. More details to follow.

15 December 2016
17:00
Ian Stewart
Abstract

Puzzling things happen in human perception when ambiguous or incomplete information is presented to the eyes. Rivalry occurs when two different images, presented one to each eye, lead to alternating percepts, possibly of neither image separately. Illusions, or multistable figures, occur when a single image can be perceived in several ways. The Necker cube is the most famous example. Impossible objects arise when a single image has locally consistent but globally inconsistent geometry. Famous examples are the Penrose triangle and etchings by Maurits Escher.

In this lecture Ian Stewart will demonstrate how these phenomena provide clues about the workings of the visual system, with reference to recent research in the field which has modelled simplified, systematic methods by which the brain can make decisions. In these models a neural network is designed to interpret incoming sensory data in terms of previously learned patterns. Rivalry occurs when different interpretations are confused, and illusions arise when the same data have several interpretations.

The lecture will be non-technical and highly illustrated, with plenty of examples.

Please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk to register

3 November 2016
17:00
Doyne Farmer
Abstract

We are increasingly better at predicting things about our environment. Modern weather forecasts are a lot better than they used to be, and our ability to predict climate change illustrates our better understanding of our effect on our environment. But what about predicting our collective effect on ourselves?  We now use tools like Google maps to predict how long it will take us to drive to work, and other small things, but we fail miserably when it comes to many of the big things. For example, the recent financial crisis cost the world tens of trillions of pounds, yet our ability to forecast, understand and mitigate the next economic crisis is very low. Is this inherently impossible? Or perhaps we are just not going about it the right way? The complex systems approach to economics, which brings in insights from the physical and natural sciences, presents an alternative to standard methods. Doyne will explain what this new approach is and give a few examples of its successes so far. He will then present a vision of the economics of the future which will need to confront the serious problems that the world will soon face.
 

Please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk to register

13 October 2016
17:15
Roger Penrose
Abstract

What can fashionable ideas, blind faith, or pure fantasy have to do with the scientific quest to understand the universe? Surely, scientists are immune to trends, dogmatic beliefs, or flights of fancy? In fact, Roger Penrose argues that researchers working at the extreme frontiers of mathematics and physics are just as susceptible to these forces as anyone else. In this lecture, based on his new book, Roger will argue that fashion, faith, and fantasy, while sometimes productive and even essential, may be leading today's researchers astray, most notably in three of science's most important areas - string theory, quantum mechanics, and cosmology. Yet Roger will also describe how fashion, faith, and fantasy have, ironically, also been invaluable in shaping his own work.

Roger will be signing copies of his book after the lecture.

This lecture is now SOLD OUT. Any questions, please email: external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk

 

 

30 June 2016
17:00
Alison Etheridge
Abstract

How can we explain the patterns of genetic variation in the world around us? The genetic composition of a population can be changed by natural selection, mutation, mating, and other genetic, ecological and evolutionary mechanisms. How do they interact with one another, and what was their relative importance in shaping the patterns we see today

Whereas the pioneers of the field could only observe genetic variation indirectly, by looking at traits of individuals in a population, researchers today have direct access to DNA sequences. But making sense of this wealth of data presents a major scientific challenge and mathematical models play a decisive role. This lecture will distil our understanding into workable models and explore the remarkable power of simple mathematical caricatures in interrogating modern genetic data.

To book please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk

12 May 2016
16:30
to
18:00
Marcus du Sautoy
Abstract

Science is giving us unprecedented insight into the big questions that have challenged humanity. Where did we come from? What is the ultimate destiny of the universe? What are the building blocks of the physical world? What is consciousness?

‘What We Cannot Know’ asks us to rein in this unbridled enthusiasm for the power of science. Are there limits to what we can discover about our physical universe? Are some regions of the future beyond the predictive powers of science and mathematics? Are there ideas so complex that they are beyond the conception of our finite human brains? Can brains even investigate themselves or does the analysis enter an infinite loop from which it is impossible to rescue itself? 

To coincide with the launch of his new book of the same title, Marcus du Sautoy will be answering (or not answering) those questions. He will also be signing copies of the book before and after the lecture.

To book please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk

26 April 2016
17:00
Tadashi Tokieda
Abstract

Would you like to come see some toys?

'Toys' here have a special sense: objects of daily life which you can find or make in minutes, yet which, if played with imaginatively reveal surprises that keep scientists puzzling for a while. We will see table-top demos of many such toys and visit some of the science that they open up. The common theme is singularity.

Tadashi Tokieda is the Director of Studies in Mathematics at Trinity Hall, Cambridge and the Poincaré Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Stanford.

To book please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk

6 April 2016
17:00
Andrea Bertozzi
Abstract
In the USA, law enforcement agencies have discovered that partnering with a team of mathematicians and social scientists from UCLA can help them determine where crime is likely to occur and so enable them to stop it before it happens.
 
In this lecture Andrea Bertozzi will tell the story behind her role on the UCLA team that developed a 'predictive policing' computer programme that zeros-in on areas that have the highest probability of crime. She will also discuss how mathematics play an increasing role in studying crime, especially gang crime. 

 

To book please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk

16 December 2015
16:30
Professor Marcus du Sautoy
Abstract

Our Christmas Public Lecture this year will be presented by Marcus du Sautoy who will be examining an aspect of Christmas not often considered: the mathematics.

To register please email: external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk

The Oxford Mathematics Christmas Lecture is generously sponsored by G-Research - Researching investment ideas to predict financial markets

25 November 2015
17:00
Professor Martin Bridson
Abstract
Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures - Chairman's Inaugural Public Lecture

 

Symmetry, Spaces and Undecidability 

Professor Martin Bridson

 

Martin Bridson became Head of the Mathematical Institute on 01 October 2015. To mark the occasion he will be giving an Inaugural Chairman's Public Lecture

 

When one wants to describe the symmetries of any object or system, in mathematics or everyday life, the right language to use is group theory. How might one go about understanding the universe of all groups and what kinds of novel geometry might emerge as we explore this universe?

 
The understanding of the possible geometries in dimension 3 is one of the triumphs of 20th century mathematics. Martin will explain why such an understanding is impossible in higher dimensions.
 

To register email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk

 

25 November 2015

5.00-6.00pm

Lecture Theatre 1

Mathematical Institute

Oxford

 

Martin Bridson is the Whitehead Professor of Pure Mathematics at the University of Oxford

 

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