Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Planning permission granted for Radcliffe Observatory Quarter

Below is a copy of the university news item on the planning permission granted for Radcliffe Observatory Quarter


Planning permission has been granted by Oxford City Council for two of the most significant buildings on Oxford University’s Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) – one of the biggest development projects the University has undertaken for more than a century.

The new buildings – a Mathematical Institute building, designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, and a Humanities Building and Library, designed by Bennetts Associates – will provide cutting-edge research and teaching facilities and, in both subject areas, bring together in one place a number of centres and faculties that are currently scattered around the city.

The ROQ is a 10-acre site in central Oxford, bound by the Woodstock Road, Somerville College, Walton Street, Observatory Street, and Green Templeton College, and will accommodate new teaching and learning space for the University over the next 20 years.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning and Resources) and Chair of the ROQ Board, Professor Anthony Monaco, said: 'The University is delighted that planning permission has been granted for these two new buildings.

'These projects form the core of our vision for this site, offering state-of-the-art facilities for research and teaching that will greatly benefit faculty and students. The fantastic designs by both architects provide new avenues through the site, exciting gardens and squares, all with views of the Radcliffe Observatory.'

Rafael Viñoly Architects’ new Mathematical Institute building will be the main workplace for more than 500 academics and support staff, as well as the centre for the academic life of approximately 1,000 undergraduates and a diverse community of college research fellows and lecturers.

The scheme provides the opportunity to accommodate the growing population of the Mathematical Institute – who currently work in three separate locations – in a modern, high performance building that respects and enhances the setting of the adjoining historic buildings.

Rafael Viñoly said: 'We are delighted to receive planning approval on our proposals for the Mathematical Institute building. Our proposals result from the resolute commitment of Oxford University, Oxford City Council officers, English Heritage representatives and regional design review panels, who were all intensively involved from the start of the design process. Our joint efforts have paid-off and generated an architectural solution that engages and complements this complex historical site. Working with the Mathematical Institute, chaired by Nick Woodhouse, has been a most inspiring experience – we look forward to delivering their new academic research and teaching facilities.'

Professor Alex Halliday, Head of the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division at Oxford, said: 'We have the UK's top-ranked mathematics department. We have attracted to Oxford some outstanding mathematicians, a growing body of students, among the highest research grant income in the world for this subject and a glittering array of awards. This splendid building will now allow us to take advantage of this success and provide the working environment for this subject to flourish. It is a fantastic opportunity for the University, the city and the UK.’

Landon and Lavinia Clay are major benefactors to the Mathematical Institute and support from other donors is being sought for the new building. Lavinia Clay said: ‘We are delighted to be supporting the new Institute building and are very pleased that planning permission has been secured. The Mathematical Institute building will provide an inspiring working environment for students and faculty alike and will help to underline the importance and relevance of mathematics to future generations.’

The new Humanities Building and Library, designed by Bennetts Associates, will form the centrepiece of the ROQ development. The first phase brings together four faculties – English, History, Theology and Philosophy – and will provide state of the art library and teaching facilities as well as research, administrative space and academic offices.

Rab Bennetts, Director of Bennetts Associates, said: ‘Our intention has been to create a group of complementary buildings that echo the grain and texture of Oxford. The backdrop of faculty buildings provides the setting for two new ‘quads’, with the library lantern as the counterpoint to the Grade 1 listed Radcliffe Observatory. We are delighted to receive planning consent and look forward to receiving the go ahead for construction.’

Head of Humanities, Professor Sally Shuttleworth, said: ‘The Humanities Division is excited by this development which will bring together on an integrated site, small libraries, academic faculties and research projects that are currently scattered about the city. We hope that it will make a considerable contribution to the life of the city and plan to offer many lectures, performances and events which will be open to the general public.’

Other developments on the ROQ site have already been granted planning permission. This includes the refurbishment of the Grade II* 18th century Radcliffe Infirmary building and St Luke's Chapel; the remodelling and refurbishment of the Grade II former Outpatients' building; three new buildings at Somerville College, along the wall that the College shares with the ROQ site; and a new east/west link for pedestrians and cyclists, connecting Walton Street with Woodstock Road and available for the public to use. 

Friday, 21 May 2010
Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Recent mathematical modelling research on `Why Sperm Swim in Circles' featured in Science-Now

<table> <tbody> <tr> <td> <table> <caption align="bottom">Observations of circular human sperm swimming and trapping in a very viscous fluid.</caption> <tbody> <tr> <td align="center"><img src="/system/files/imce/u7/sperm1.png" alt="" /></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </td> <td>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</td> <td> <table> <caption align="bottom">Mathematical modelling predictions for circular sperm swimming and trapping in a very viscous fluid.</caption> <tbody> <tr> <td align="center"><img src="/system/files/imce/u7/sperm2.png" alt="" /></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>Ever wondered how sperm know where they're going? Every one of us is the consequence of a sperm cell winning the epic race through the female tract to reach the egg, covering the equivalent distance of climbing Mount Everest. A ‘virtual sperm’ can be developed and explored, based on computational simulations of a biologically inspired mathematical model. In particular, such models highlight that changes in the surrounding fluids may cause sperm to switch from straight-swimming to going round in circles, effectively trapping them, due to a buckling-effect on the whip-like motions of the sperm tail. Characteristic features of this mechanics have also been observed in the laboratory, while understanding these mechanisms and more generally how sperm may become trapped is potentially important in developing future simple treatments and diagnoses for human subfertility and animal conservation. These results featured as a <a href="">ScienceShot</a> in <a href="">Science-Now</a>, the popular arm of the prestigious journal <a href="">Science</a>, after a <a href="">recent publication in The Journal of The Royal Society Interface</a>. The latter was authored by <a href="/contact/details/gadelha">Hermes Gadelha</a> and <a href="/contact/details/gaffney">Eamonn Gaffney</a> of The Mathematical Institute with collaborators from the Centre for Human Reproductive Science, Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust.</p>
Monday, 17 May 2010

[RESOLVED] Departmental network connection failed 16/5/2010

The OUCS equipment providing the departmental network connection to the university backbone network, as well as the connection between the St Giles building and our other 4 sites, failed at about 1:30pm on Sunday 16th May. OUCS have installed replacement parts restoring service at 9:45am on Monday 17th May.

There have been previous short (2-5 minute) interruptions to the network connection of the St Giles building over the last month or so which were reported to OUCS at the time. Hopefully this is all part of the same problem and thus the parts replaced will result in no further short losses of connectivity.

Friday, 14 May 2010

University press release on Mason Porter's work on network communities

The university has produced a press release on Mason's Porter's work on network communities. Below is a copy of the press release:

A new way of finding community structure within networks – anything from social networks such as Facebook, to power grids, political voting networks, and protein interaction networks in biology – could help us understand how people are connected and how connections change over time. The new technique, developed by a team from the University of North Carolina, University of Oxford, and Harvard University, aims to be more realistic than conventional approaches, which only capture one type of connection or a network at only one moment in time.

The new approach captures the totality of connections within a network and could be used to examine the different ways communities form; for example, analysing relationships between University students and staff across many different connections such as Facebook friendship, College affiliation, and subject studied. Alternatively, it could be used to track how one type of connection – such as Facebook friendship – changes over time.

The technique is not limited to social networks as community detection has the potential to find important groups in many other applications, such as protein-protein interaction networks, transportation networks, and political voting networks.

A report of the team’s work, advancing the theory of community detection, will be published in this week’s Science.

Capturing the complexity of people's relationships through networks such as Facebook and how these relationships change over time is a huge challenge,’ said Dr Mason Porter of Oxford University's Mathematical Institute, an author of the report. ‘Our new approach, which can be applied to any type of network, is potentially much better than existing methods at identifying what makes a 'community' within a network and at tracking how such groupings evolve over time.’

Until now, it was only possible to detect communities using computer algorithms in very special cases – in particular, only in networks that are treated as if they don't change over time and as if they have only one type of connection.

The new computational method can be used with what researchers call ‘multislice’ networks, in which each ‘slice’ might represent a social network at one snapshot in time or a different set of connections between the same set of individuals. These ‘slices’ are combined into a larger mathematical object, which can contain a potentially huge amount of data and is difficult to analyse. Previous community-finding methods could only deal with each slice separately, and it was necessary to compare the results obtained from different slices using ad hoc tools (if it was possible at all) and the new method overcomes this key challenge.

It's very easy to use ‘ad hoc’ methods and miss something that is potentially interesting or important in such complex networks,’ said Dr Porter. ‘Whilst our new approach doesn't dictate what you will find, it does potentially give you a much better chance of finding interesting connections if they're there.

  • A report of the research, entitled ‘Community Structure in Time-Dependent, Multiscale, and Multiplex Networks’, is published in Science on 14 May, embargoed until 19:00 BST/14:00 EST (US) 13 May 2010.
Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Lecture by PL Lions -- Wed 5th of May @ OMI

As advertised on Departamental pages, we remind you about the following seminar:

“On Mean Field Games”

Professor Pierre-Louis Lions
Wednesday 5th May
At 5pm at OMI, Eagle House

Wine reception at 6.00pm to follow 

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Colin Macdonald awarded the 2010 SIAM Richard C. DiPrima Prize

Colin Macdonald has been awarded the 2010 SIAM Richard C. DiPrima Prize, making him the 11th recepient of the award.

Jon Chapman, currently the Professor of Mathematics and its Applications and Director of the departmental research group OCIAM, is a former winner, being awarded the DiPrima prize in 1994.

The SIAM Richard C. DiPrima Prize is awarded every other year to a junior scientist for outstanding research in applied mathematics based on the doctoral dissertation.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Muhammad Imran Qureshi Awarded a BMC/BAMC Student Talk Prize

Oxford DPhil student Muhammad Imran Qureshi received one of 4 prizes "for best talks given by students" at the Maths 2010 meeting (combined BMC/BAMC), held 6-9 April 2010 in Edinburgh. There was a total of 90 talks given by students at the meeting. Mr Qureshi is a student of Balazs Szendroi; his talk was entitled Some new families of Calabi-Yau 3-folds in weighted flag varieties.

Friday, 16 April 2010
Tuesday, 13 April 2010