Thursday, 2 October 2014

The mathematics of oxygen and tumours


Oxygen has a significant prognostic effect on cancer treatment, with well-oxygenated regions being more sensitive to radiotherapy than low oxygen regions. Better understanding of oxygen distribution could allow escalation of dose to hypoxic regions and better prognosis.

2020 Science Fellow and member of the Mathematical Institute, Dr. Alex Fletcher, is co-author on Oxygen Consumption Dynamics in Steady-State Tumour Models and was interviewed by the Royal Society to coincide with the inaugural issue of their new journal Open Science. He talks about his research into oxygen and cancer and the importance of open science.





Thursday, 2 October 2014

Jacqueline Anne Stedall (4 August 1950–27 September 2014)

Jackie Stedall

Jackie Stedall came to Oxford in October 2000 as Clifford-Norton Student in the History of Science at Queen’s College. She held degrees of BA (later MA) in Mathematics from Cambridge University (1972), MSc in Statistics from the University of Kent (1973), and PhD in History of Mathematics from the Open University (2000). She also had a PGCE in Mathematics (Bristol Polytechnic 1991). In due course she became Senior Research Fellow in the Oxford Mathematical Institute and at Queen’s College, posts from which, knowing that she was suffering from incurable cancer, she took early retirement in December 2013.

This was her fifth career. Following her studies at Cambridge and Canterbury she had been three years a statistician, four years Overseas Programmes Administrator for War on Want, seven years a full-time parent, and eight years a schoolteacher before she became an academic. 

Although her career as a researcher, scholar and university teacher spanned less than fourteen years, it was greatly influential. She published nine books, more than twenty articles, and major contributions to the on-line edition (with transcriptions, translations and commentary) of the manuscripts of Thomas Harriot. She earned herself an international reputation—twice she received invitations (courteously refused) to lecture at an ICM, for example.

Her Oxford teaching was equally successful. It was characterised by innovation. Jackie was instrumental in founding two third-year courses, History of Mathematics and, in a very different area, jointly with Cath Wilkins, the Part B Structured Projects in applied mathematics. She supervised many third- and fourth-year dissertations on historical topics. She earned awards for excellence in teaching on two separate occasions.

Jackie was exceptionally well organised, and expected the same in others. University lectures and classes, seminar and conference papers, all were prepared months ahead, never more than a few weeks after she had accepted a commission. Book manuscripts, copy for journals she edited, all reached the publisher safely before the contract date.

She was a great scholar, teacher, editor and organiser. More than that: to very many of us she was a great colleague and friend.

$\Pi$MN: Oxford: 1 October 2014

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Poking, Shells and Tumours - see what Oxford Mathematicians really get up to

Shell growth mathematics

Mathematicians work across an ever-expanding range of disciplines, from the physical and medical sciences to economics and the social sciences. These three short films display that diversity. Dominic Vella explains how mathematical modelling helps us to quantify what the act of poking is telling us; Helen Byrne explains how she uses mathematical techniques to gain insights in to a number of medical and biological systems, notably in tumour growth; while Derek Moulton's interest in mathematical mechanical biology has led him to try and understand the universal patterns that are seen in seashells. All demonstrate how mathematics is critical to modelling and understanding the material world.





Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Mathematical Institute launches new website

The Mathematical Institute is pleased to announce the launch of its new website. The new website has been reworked from the ground up to be modern, flexible, engaging and inviting to current and future mathematicians and friends. A collaboration with William Joseph produced an initial design which was then developed and implemented in-house and, being based on modern technologies, is compatible with mobile devices.

Many content maintainers across the department have updated and enhanced their content to fit within the new website look, feel and functionality. These content maintainers will further develop their content over the coming weeks and more generally be taking a proactive role curating and maintaining the site over time.

We hope that you enjoy the new browsing experience. If you have feedback about a specific page please use the contact link at the bottom of the relevant page. If you have more general feedback, please use the site wide contact form.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

James Maynard wins the 2014 SASTRA Ramanujan Prize

James Maynard

The 2014 SASTRA Ramanujan Prize has been awarded to Dr. James Maynard of Oxford University and the University of Montreal, Canada for his contribution to Number theory, especially in the field of Prime Numbers.

The SASTRA Ramanujan Prize was established in 2005 and is awarded annually for outstanding contributions by young mathematicians to areas influenced by Srinivasa Ramanujan. The age limit for the prize has been set at 32 because Ramanujan achieved so much in his brief life of 32 years. The prize will be awarded during December 21-22 at the International Conference on Number Theory at SASTRA University in Kumbakonam (Ramanujan's hometown) where the prize has been given annually.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Oxford Mathematics' Vicky Neale discusses Euler's Number with Melvyn Bragg


Melvyn Bragg and his guests, including Vicky Neale, Whitehead Lecturer here in Oxford, discuss Euler's number, also known as e. First discovered in the seventeenth century by the Swiss mathematician Jacob Bernoulli when he was studying compound interest, e is now recognised as one of the most important and interesting numbers in mathematics. Roughly equal to 2.718, e is useful in studying many everyday situations, from personal savings to epidemics. Thursday 25 September, 9.00am.

Friday, 19 September 2014
Friday, 5 September 2014

Brain injuries in sport

Brain scan

The International Brain Mechanics and Trauma Lab at the University of Oxford is a compelling example of modern scientific collaboration. Comprising academics from across the sciences, both medical and life science and including Mathematicians and Engineers, the lab is pooling its talents to better understand the relations between brain-tissue mechanics and brain function, diseases and trauma.
The lab and its collaborators are addressing a range of issues around impact and brain function, notably in sports injuries as society wakes up to the potential damage that our sports men and women face from impact injuries. As this article in the Irish Times explains, a deeper understanding requires a pooling of resources to examine the brain at cell, tissue and medical levels.

Friday, 5 September 2014

John Ball re-elected to International Council for Science Executive Board

International Council for Science

Professor John Ball, Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy & Director, Oxford Centre for Nonlinear PDE, University of Oxford has been re-elected as a member of the International Council for Science Executive BoardThe International Council for Science (ICSU) is a non-governmental organisation with a global membership of national scientific bodies (121 Members, representing 141 countries) and International Scientific Unions (32 Members). ICSU’s mission is to strengthen international science for the benefit of society. To do this, ICSU mobilizes the knowledge and resources of the international science community.

Friday, 5 September 2014

International Council for Science endorses open access to scientific record; cautions against misuse of metrics

International Council for Science

The General Assembly of the International Council for Science today endorsed open access principles and provided key recommendations guarding against the misuse of metrics in the evaluation of research performance. In a strong show of support for open access to the scientific record, the Assembly, which unites representatives of 120 national scientific academies and 31 international scientific unions, today voted for the statement which stakes out 5 key goals for open access, and offers 12 recommendations that pave the road for attaining them. 

"Open Access is a key mechanism to support the development of science and of vital importance to all scientists both young and old," said Prof. John Ball, who led the ICSU working group that developed the statement. "It is a powerful tool for creating and validating knowledge, and for supporting science as a public good, and not as something carried out behind closed doors," he added.

The five goals in the statement assert that access to the scientific record should be free of financial barriers for any researcher to contribute to; free of financial barriers for any user to access immediately on publication; made available without restriction on reuse for any purpose, subject to proper attribution; quality-assured and published in a timely manner; and archived and made available in perpetuity.

The statement also makes twelve recommendations for achieving these goals, including recommendations on metrics, stating that these, when used as an aid to the evaluation of research and researchers, should help promote open access and open science. It also cautions that metrics should be regarded as an aid, and not a substitute, for good decision-making. They should not normally be used in isolation to assess the performance of researchers, to determine appointments, or to distribute funds to individuals or research groups, for which it says expert review is indispensable.

The Council's position takes account of the specific situation related to research data, asserting that publishers should require authors to provide explicit references to the datasets underlying published research. They also should require clear assurances that these datasets are deposited and available in trusted and sustainable digital repositories. Citing datasets in reference lists using an accepted standard format should be considered the norm. 

The statement also suggests that terms of contracts governing the purchase of scientific periodicals and databases by libraries serving universities and research establishments should be publicly accessible.

The full report is available for download.


The International Council for Science (ICSU) is a non-governmental organisation with a global membership of national scientific bodies (121 Members, representing 141 countries) and International Scientific Unions (31 Members). It mobilizes the knowledge and resources of the international scientific community to strengthen international science for the benefit of society.


Sir John Ball is Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Oxford. He was the President of the International Mathematical Union from 2003–06 and is a Fellow of The Queen's College, Oxford. He was educated at the University of Cambridge and Sussex University, and prior to taking up his Oxford post was a professor of mathematics at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. He is also a member of the Executive Board of the International Council for Science (ICSU).