Friday, 26 June 2015

Thomas Woolley and William Binzi win OxTALENT prizes

OxTALENT is an annual competition and a ceremony designed to recognise and award colleagues and students from across the University for creative use of digital technologies in teaching, learning and outreach.

This year Thomas Woolley and William Binzi from Oxford Mathematics were awarded runner-up prizes in the Academic Podcasting category for their work with Mareli Augustyn in creating a video series of A Mathemagician’s Holiday. This workshop was originally created by Woolley, Binzi and Daniel Martin for an international trip to visit Dulwich Colleges in China. The workshop involves students getting to grips with mathematical problems all set around the theme of travel.

“We felt that teachers and schools around the UK might benefit from this workshop, but unfortunately we just cannot get to all the schools that contact us for a visit,” said Mareli when asked how the project started. “We thought that creating a video series might enable teachers to view the activities and do them in their own classrooms.”

The videos are not a perfectly produced work, but there is great interest in such material. The video series was posted on the University’s podcasting site, and received 700 views between October 2014 and May 2015. It was also placed on the TESConnect repository and viewed 420 times over the same period. The OxTALENT award was in recognition of the attempt to engage teachers and the public in Mathematics using digital media.

For more on the OxTALENT awards, please go to


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Catherine Wilkins wins teaching award

Congratulations to Dr Catherine Wilkins from Oxford Mathematics who has won a MPLS (Mathematical Physical and Life Sciences Division) award for teaching excellence. Oxford Teaching Awards are given either to individuals or to teams as a public acknowledgement of excellence in teaching and learning.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Patrick Farrell wins 2015 Wilkinson Prize

Patrick Farrell, Early Career Research Fellow in Applied Mathematics in Oxford, together with colleagues from the Simula Research Laboratory and Imperial College London, has won this year's 2015 Wilkinson Prize. Their award was given for their work in developing dolfin-adjoint, a package which automatically derives and solves adjoint and tangent linear equations from high-level mathematical specifications of finite element discretisations of partial differential equations. The prize will be presented at ICIAM 2015 and will consist of $3000 plus a commemorative plaque for each winner.


The Wilkinson Prize was established to honour the outstanding contributions of Dr James Hardy Wilkinson to the field of numerical software. It is awarded every four years.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Vicky Neale wins acclaimed lecturer award

Many congratulations to Dr Vicky Neale on being a winner in the Most Acclaimed Lecturer category at the Oxford University Student Union Teaching Awards.

The awards provide students with the opportunity to recognise excellence in teaching by nominating anyone who has 'made a difference and inspired' them while they have been at Oxford. Vicky is Whitehead Lecturer in the Mathematics Institute and at Balliol College.

Friday, 15 May 2015

It All Added Up - the Women in Maths Conference 2015

In April 2015, the London Mathematical Society's annual Women in Maths day 
was expanded to four days as part of the LMS 150th Anniversary celebrations, 
and was hosted by the Mathematical Institute in the Andrew Wiles Building.

The meeting was a huge success. About 430 school girls and teachers attended 
the days for school students, which featured talks, hands-on workshops and a 
mathematical treasure hunt around the building. A further 230 university 
mathematicians and mathematical scientists (undergraduates, graduate 
students, postdocs and faculty) attended the remaining two days, which 
included plenary lectures, contributed talks by graduate students and 
postdocs, posters by undergraduates and graduate students, panel 
discussions, lots of opportunities for networking, and even mathematical 


Photo collage

Participants from all four days brought small photos of themselves which 
formed a collage showcasing the present and future of women in mathematics 
in the UK. In addition, the school students (and indeed slightly 
older mathematicians) were encouraged to write questions on post-it notes 
that were addressed by other participants later in the week.

As one school student said, "Everyone else here likes maths!".  Participants 
from Thursday and Friday said "As an undergraduate you see how many 
different possibilities you can get into... there’s so much variety", and "It’s 
absolutely inspiring", and "the attendance speaks for itself – this is 
easily one of the best attended meetings in the LMS calendar... it’s totally 

For more information, including an albums of photos and a link to the 
programme, please see

The event was made possible thanks to sponsorship from the Oxford Vice 
Chancellor's Diversity Fund, the London Mathematical Society, Oxford 
University Press, Schlumberger, Jane Street, and the three Oxford 
departments who organised the event (Mathematics, Statistics and Computer 

Photos by Jennifer Balakrishnan and video filmed and edited by Mareli Augustyn.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

A drone's eye view of the Andrew Wiles Building

Drones may evoke fear and possibility in equal measure, but they also are capable of giving us fresh perspectives, in this case a fascinating journey around the architecture and mathematics of the Andrew Wiles Building, from the unique Penrose tiling at the entrance to the building to the Crystal in the interior which floods light in to the lecture area below and whose shape represents the frequencies of a vibrating drum.







Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Summer with Marcus - Marcus du Sautoy at the Hay, Glastonbury and Wilderness festivals

Oxford Mathematician and Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, Marcus du Sautoy can be seen at a range of festivals and events this summer.

On Monday May 10, Marcus is at the Royal Society in partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company to explore the relationship between science and storytelling. Later in the month (28 & 29 May) he shares the stage at two events at the Hay festival, the first with acclaimed mathematician Cedric Villani, the second continuing the exploration of Narrative and Truth first discussed in Oxford in January with Ben Okri and Elleke Boehmer.

In June Marcus will be performing a new show at the Glastonbury Festival (26-28 June ) called Death by Numbers with a special appearance by Death himself. and at the Wilderness Festival from 6-9 August Marcus will be giving his popular lecture on the Num8er My5teries.

Marcus will also give talks at the European Society for Literature, Science and the Arts from 15-18 June where he is the keynote speaker discussing 'Infinity and Beyond' and at the American and European Mathematical Societies Conference in Portugal, 10-13 June.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Left hand, right hand - the mathematics of chirality

The word ‘chiral’ comes from the Greek word, kheir, which means ‘hand’. An object is said to be chiral if it cannot be superimposed on its mirror image. For instance, your hands are chiral. If you place your right hand over your left hand, it doesn’t fit – the thumbs stick out in opposite directions. And when you turn your hands to point them in the same direction the palm of your hand still looks different to the back of your hand. 

Chirality is all around us, The easiest chiral objects to spot are those that are spiralled, such as shells, horns, springs, spiral staircases, vines and so on. Some chemicals are chiral too, such as DNA, sucrose and carvone. Examples of how different chiral structures interact differently with the body are those that have an odour or taste. You can smell and taste things because you have receptors that pick up the smelly or tasty chemicals. The classical (and historically first) example of how different chiral forms interact via smell was carvone. One enantiomer smells of caraway seed whilst the other enantiomer smells of spearmint. 

In this film The Oxford Sparks team and Oxford Mathematician Alain Goriely go to the Museum of Natural History in Oxford to explore chirality, its uses and its part in explaining the shape and possible alternatives to our universe.



Friday, 1 May 2015
Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Art in the Andrew Wiles Building - Antoni Malinowski at work

The Andrew Wiles Building, home to Oxford Mathematics, is a space where mathematics is embedded in the design, from the Penrose Paving to the two large interior crystals. However, it is also a space filled with light, a natural environment for art that works explicitly with light and colour. It is with this in mind that London-based artist Antoni Malinowski has been commissioned to paint an art work on the white walls of the entrance area of the Building. Antoni will be at work for three months, painting directly onto the walls. Come and watch an artist as he develops and refines his work.

Antoni describes his work as follows:

"Each day the journey of light is registered on the two large white walls facing each other in the luminous foyer. My work begins by sensitising this background by applying a reflective paint made with mica ground to a fine pigment. Then on the south facing wall, using light absorbing pigments, I paint in colours related to the warm end of the spectrum - from red to yellow. These light wave subtractive earth pigments have been used by painters for around forty thousand years. 

On the north facing wall, other historical pigments like green earth, lapis lazuli and azurite are going to mark the cool end of the spectrum - from green to violet. An additional layer of brush strokes will be painted with contemporary paint, made with nano technology interference pigments. These don’t absorb light, but bend the wavelengths. The interaction of these two ways in which colour is ‘produced’ will create the dynamic of the paintings. The wall paintings will appear very different from different viewing points and with different light conditions. The colour will oscillate between darkness and light, appearing and disappearing, showing different sides of binary complementarities. One elongated thin line in each painting will contribute to the opening of the pictorial space - an invitation for an imaginary spatial journey.”

Malinowski's recent work includes a commission inside the award-winning Everyman Theatre in Liverpool.