Past Fridays@4

21 April 2017
Dyrol Lumbard and Vicky Neale

Research takes a long time while the attention span of the world is apparently decreasing, so today's researchers need to be able to get their message across quickly and succinctly. In this session we'll share some tips on how to communicate the key messages of your work in just a few minutes, and give you a chance to have a go yourself.  This will be helpful for job and funding applications and interviews, and also for public engagement. In September there will be an opportunity to do it for real, for our alumni, when we'll showcase Oxford Mathematics at the Alumni Weekend.

10 March 2017
Daniele Celoria + Mariano Beguerisse

Categorification of knot polynomials -- Daniele Celoria

Classically, the most powerful and versatile knot invariants take the form of polynomials. These can usually be defined by simple recursive equations, known as skein relations; after giving the main examples of polynomial knot invariants (Alexander and Jones polynomials), we are going to informally introduce categorifications. Finally we are going to present the Knot Floer and the Khovanov homologies, and show that they provide a categorification of the aforementioned polynomial knot invariants.

Network science for online social media: an x-ray or a stethoscope for society -- Mariano Beguerisse

The abundance of data from social media outlets such as Twitter provides the opportunity to perform research at a societal level at a scale unforeseen. This has spurred the development of mathematical and computational methods such as network science, which uses the formalism and language of graph theory to study large systems of interacting agents. In this talk, I will provide a sketch of network science and its application to study online social media. A number of different networks can be constructed from Twitter data, which can be used to ask questions about users, ranging from the structural (an 'x-ray' to see how societies are connected online) to the topical ('stethoscope' to feel how users interact in the context of specific event). I will provide concrete examples from the UK riots of 2011, applications to medical anthropology, and political referenda, and will also highlight distinct challenges such as the directionality of connections, the size of the network, the use of temporal information and text, all of which are active areas of research.

24 February 2017
Alison Trinder and Dave Hewett

Do you find yourself agreeing to things when actually you want more – or less? In this session we will look at how to be clear about what you want, and how to use assertiveness and negotiation skills and strategies to achieve win-win outcomes when working with others. 

17 February 2017

Data science: The secret to unlocking operational performance within the UK’s largest retail supply chain


Chris Reddick was instrumental in setting up the InFoMM CDT. After helping secure the EPSRC funding he chaired the Industrial Engagement Committee and supported the CDT in all its Industrial relations. The success of the CDT, as evidenced by the current size of the industrial partnership and the vibrant programme we have developed, is in no small part due to Chris' charm, vision, and tenacity.

3 February 2017

Peter Grindrod, Director of the Oxford-Emirates Data Science Lab, Oxford Mathematical Institute

Geraint Lloyd, Senior Software Engineer, Schlumberger

Geraint Lloyd

Mick Pont, VP Research and Development, Numerical Algorithms Group (NAG)

Mick Pont

Anna Railton, Technical Staff, Smith Institute

Anna Railton
Michele Taroni, Senior Project Manager, Roxar

Michele Taroni

20 January 2017
David Hume + Neave O'Clery

A continuum of expanders -- David Hume

Expanders are a holy grail of networking; robustly connected networks of arbitrary size which require minimal resources. Like the grail, they are also notoriously difficult to construct. In this talk I will introduce expanders, give a brief overview of just a few aspects of their diverse history, and outline a very recent result of mine, which states that there are a continuum of expanders with fundamentally different large-scale geometry.

What makes cities successful? A complex systems approach to modelling urban economies -- Neave O'Clery

Urban centres draw a diverse range of people, attracted by opportunity, amenities, and the energy of crowds. Yet, while benefiting from density and proximity of people, cities also suffer from issues surrounding crime, congestion and density. Seeking to uncover the mechanisms behind the success of cities using novel tools from the mathematical and data sciences, this work uses network techniques to model the opportunity landscape of cities. Under the theory that cities move into new economic activities that share inputs with existing capabilities, path dependent industrial diversification can be described using a network of industries. Edges represent shared necessary capabilities, and are empirically estimated via flows of workers moving between industries. The position of a city in this network (i.e., the subnetwork of its current industries) will determine its future diversification potential. A city located in a central well-connected region has many options, but one with only few peripheral industries has limited opportunities.

We develop this framework to explain the large variation in labour formality rates across cities in the developing world, using data from Colombia. We show that, as cities become larger, they move into increasingly complex industries as firms combine complementary capabilities derived from a more diverse pool of workers. We further show that a level of agglomeration equivalent to between 45 and 75 minutes of commuting time maximizes the ability of cities to generate formal employment using the variety of skills available. Our results suggest that rather than discouraging the expansion of metropolitan areas, cities should invest in transportation to enable firms to take advantage of urban diversity.

This talk will be based on joint work with Eduardo Lora and Andres Gomez at Harvard University.

25 November 2016


Professor Alison Etheridge, Professor of Probability in the Mathematical Institute and Department of Statistics, Oxford

Professor Ben Green, Waynflete Professor of Pure Mathematics, Oxford

Dr Heather Harrington, Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Mathematical Institute, Oxford

Professor Jon Keating, Henry Overton Wills Professor of Mathematics, Bristol and Chair of the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research

Jon Keating

Dr Christopher Voyce, Head of Research Facilitation in the Mathematical Institute, Oxford

18 November 2016
James Maynard + Thomas Woolley

Approximate prime numbers -- James Maynard

I will talk about the idea of an 'almost prime' number, and how this can be used to make progress on some famous problems about the primes themselves.

Mathematical biology: An early career retrospective -- Thomas Woolley

Since 2008 Thomas has focused his attention to the application of mathematical techniques to biological problems. Through numerous fruitful collaborations he has been extremely fortunate to work alongside some amazing researchers. But what has he done in the last 8 years? What lessons has he learnt? What knowledge has he produced?

This talk will encompass a brief overview of a range of applications, from animal skin patterns to cellular mechanics, via zombies and Godzilla.