Friday, 12 January 2018 
Oxford Mathematician Sir John Ball FRS has been awarded the King Faisal Prize for Science. Launched by the King Faisal Foundation (KFF) and granted for the first time in 1979, the King Faisal Prize recognises the outstanding works of individuals and institutions in five major categories: Service to Islam, Islamic Studies, Arabic Language and Literature, Medicine, and Science. Its aim is to benefit Muslims in their present and future, inspire them to participate in all aspects of civilisation, as well as enrich human knowledge and develop mankind.
Sir John Ball is Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy, Director of the Oxford Centre for Nonlinear Partial Differential Equations and Fellow of the Queen's College. John's main research areas lie in the calculus of variations, nonlinear partial differential equations, infinitedimensional dynamical systems and their applications to nonlinear mechanics.

Friday, 12 January 2018 
As recent breaches have demonstrated, security will be one of the major concerns of our digital futures. The collective intelligence of the mathematical community is critical to finding these flaws. A group of Oxford Mathematicians, both researchers and undergraduates, have done just that.
SecureRF is a corporation founded in 2004 specialising in security for Internet of Things (IoT), i.e. devices with low processing power that require ultralow energy consumption, whose partners include the US Air Force. SecureRF has also collaborated with Intel to develop an implementation of WalnutDSA on secure fieldprogrammable gate arrays. WalnutDSA (trademarked by SecureRF) is an example of a digital signature algorithm, a mathematical scheme for demonstrating the authenticity of digital messages (like a real signature, but digital). Walnut DSA uses highlevel mathematical techniques from permutation groups, matrix groups and braid groups, and is designed to provide postquantum security in lightweight IoT device contexts.
The Oxford Team attacked the algorithm by bypassing the EMultiplication and cloaked conjugacy search problems at its heart, forging signatures for arbitrary messages in approximately two minutes. Thanks to this cryptanalysis, the scheme has now been modified accordingly and an upgrade that corrects the security risk submitted to the National Insititute of Standards and Technology (NIST) competition for Post Quantum Cryptography.
One of the most pertinent and inspiring parts of the story is that the exposure was the result of a collaboration between researchers Giacomo Micheli and Christophe Petit and undergraduates Daniel Hart, DoHoon Kim, Guillermo Pascual Perez and Yuxuan Quek  the work was one of the summer projects that Oxford Mathematics uses to develop and inspire its undergraduate mathematicians, giving them a taste of rigorous research.
A fuller explanation can be found here and will be presented at PKC 2018, the 21st edition of the International Conference on Practice and Theory of Public Key Cryptography.

Thursday, 11 January 2018 
Oxford Mathematician Sarah Waters has been awarded a Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship commencing this month. Sarah is an applied mathematician here in Oxford. Her interest is in physiological fluid mechanics, tissue biomechanics and the application of mathematics to problems in medicine and biology. Her work varies from classical applied mathematics problems motivated by physiological applications to highly interdisciplinary work  she collaborates with life scientists, clinicians, bioengineers, theoreticians and experimentalists to develop and solve models that are novel, realistic and provide insights into biomedical problems. The resulting models often lead to theoretical predictions that can be exploited in the laboratory.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018 
Modern science and technology generate data at an unprecedented rate. A major challenge is that this data is often complex, high dimensional and may include temporal and/or spatial information. The 'shape' of the data can be important but it is difficult to extract and quantify it using standard machine learning or statistical techniques. For example, an image of blood vessels near a tumour looks very different to an image of healthy blood vessels; statistics alone cannot quantify this difference. New shape analysis methods are required.
Thanks to funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), a newly created centre combining scientists in Oxford, Swansea and Liverpool will study the shape of data through the development of new mathematics and algorithms, and build on existing data science techniques in order to obtain and interpret the shape of data. A theoretical field of mathematics that enables the study of shapes is geometry and topology. The ability to quantify the shape of complicated objects is only possible with advanced mathematics and algorithms. The field known as topological data analysis (TDA), enables one to use methods of topology and geometry to study the shape of data. In particular, a method within TDA known as persistent homology provides a summary of the shape of the data (e.g. features such as holes) at multiple scales. A key success of persistent homology is the ability to provide robust results, even if the data are noisy. There are theoretical and computational challenges in the application of these algorithms to large scale, realworld data.
The aim of this centre is to build on current persistent homology tools, extending them theoretically, computationally, and adapting them for practical applications. The Oxford team led by Heather Harrington and Ulrike Tillmann together with Helen Byrne, Peter Grindrod and Gesine Reinert is composed of experts in pure and applied mathematics, computer scientists, and statisticians whose combined expertise covers cutting edge pure mathematics, mathematical modelling, algorithm design and data analysis. This core team will in turn work closely with collaborators in a range of scientific and industrial domains.

Monday, 8 January 2018 
Oxford Mathematician Tom Oliver talks about his research in to the rich mine of mathematical information that are Lfunctions.
"I am interested in the analytic properties of Lfunctions, which are supposed to encode deep arithmetic information. The best known Lfunction is the Riemann zeta function, which is intimately connected to the theory of prime numbers. More general Lfunctions are attached to algebraic varieties and automorphic forms  the former being solutions to systems of polynomials, and the latter being analytic functions on certain symmetric spaces of arithmetic interest. An elaborate web of conjectures, known as the Langlands programme, relates the two.
The Lfunctions of automorphic forms have welldocumented analytic behaviour. My recent research attempts to answer the converse question  if we know an Lfunction has (weakened versions of) such analytic properties, is there an underlying automorphic form? The aim of the game is to make the assumptions as weak as possible. In doing so, we open the door to various applications. For example, the socalled 'grand simplicity hypothesis' suggests that the nonreal zeros of automorphic Lfunctions are simple and linearly independent (over the field of rational numbers). It is exceptionally difficult to prove anything like this in wide generality, so I am interested in special cases.
In order to get a handle on what is achievable, one has to understand ways in which Lfunctions can be more or less complicated than one another. A common way to quantify the complexity of an Lfunction is a numerical invariant called the degree. Intuitively, this is the number of gamma functions appearing in the functional equation. For example the Riemann zeta function has degree 1, and the degree grows with the degree of the base field, the dimension of the algebraic variety, the rank of the algebraic group, etc. The higher the degree, the more 'trivial' zeros an Lfunction has. These are the zeros on the real line cancelling the poles of the gamma function.
In a recent collobaration with Michalis Neururer (TU Darmstadt), we studied the simplest proxy for independence of zeros imaginable, which is still unresolved even for small degrees. Namely, when dividing two Lfunctions, one would expect that the quotient has infinitely many poles (zeros of the denominator which are not zeros of the numerator). This is easily seen to be the case when the degree of the numerator is less than that of the denominator, as the denominator has more trivial zeros. These are the negative degree quotients. More interesting are quotients of positive degree, where the poles correspond to nontrivial zeros.
In 2013, Andrew Booker proved that degree 0 and degree 1 quotients have infinitely many poles. Building upon Booker's ideas, our work focused on the case that the difference in degree is 2. Assuming that the quotient has only finitely many poles, we show that the quotient looks enough like an automorphic Lfunction (in fact, the Lfunction of a Maass form), to apply a suitably general converse theorem. This gives rise to a factorisation of the numerator, contradicting orthogonality results for automorphic Lfunctions. The argument involves the construction of special symmetries of the hyperbolic plane."

Thursday, 4 January 2018 
Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures
Scaling the Maths of Life  Michael Bonsall
In this talk Michael Bonsall will explore how we can use mathematics to link between scales of organisation in biology. He will delve in to developmental biology, ecology and neurosciences, all illustrated and explored with real life examples, simple games and, of course, some neat maths.
Michael Bonsall is Professor of Mathematical Biology in Oxford.
7 February 2018, 5pm6pm, Mathematical Institute, Oxford.
Please email externalrelations@maths.ox.ac.uk to register.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018 
Americans drink an average of 3.1 cups of coffee per day (and mathematicans probably even more). When carrying a liquid, common sense says walk slowly and refrain from overfilling the container. But easier said than followed. Cue sloshing.
Sloshing occurs when a vessel of liquid—coffee in a mug, water in a bucket, liquid natural gas in a tanker, etc.  oscillates horizontally around a fixed position near a resonant frequency; this motion occurs when the containers are carried or moved. While nearly all transport containers have rigid handles, a bucket with a pivoted handle allows rotation around a central axis and greatly reduces the chances of spilling. Although this is not necessarily a realistic onthego solution for most beverages, the mitigation or elimination of sloshing is certainly desirable. In a recent article published in SIAM Review, Oxford Mathematicians Hilary and John Ockendon use surprisingly simple mathematics to develop a model for sloshing. Their model comprises a mug on a smooth horizontal table that oscillates in a single direction via a spring connection. “We chose the mathematically simplest model with which to understand the basic mechanics of pendulum action on sloshing problems,” John said.
The authors derive their inspiration from a Nobel prizewinning paper describing a basic mechanical model that investigates the results of walking backwards while carrying a cup of coffee. They use both Newton’s laws of physics and the basic properties of hydrodynamics to employ a socalled “paradigm” configuration, which explains how a cradle introduces an extra degree of freedom that in turn modifies the liquid’s response. “The paradigm model contains the same mechanics as the pendulum but is simpler to write down,” Ockendon said. “We found some experimental results on the paradigm model, which meant we could make some direct comparisons.”
The authors evaluate this scenario rather than the more realistic but complicated use of a mug as a cradle that moves like a simple pendulum. To further simplify their model, they assume that the mug in question is rectangular and engaged in twodimensional motion, i.e., motion perpendicular to the direction of the spring’s action is absent. Because the coffee is initially at rest, the flow is always irrotational. “Our model considers sloshing in a tank suspended from a pivot that oscillates horizontally at a frequency close to the lowest sloshing frequency of the liquid in the tank. Together we have written several papers on classical sloshing over the last 40 years, but only recently were we stimulated by these observations to consider the pendulum effect.”
Variables in the initial model represent (i) a hand moving around a fixed position, (ii) the frequency of walking, typically between 12 Hertz, and (iii) a spring connecting the shaking hand to the mug, which slides on the table’s smooth surface. Hilary and John are most interested in the spring’s effect on the motion of the liquid.
The authors solve the model’s equations via separation of variables and analyse the subsequent result with a response diagram depicting the sloshing amplitude’s dependence on forcing frequency. The mug’s boundary conditions assume that the normal velocity of both the liquid and the mug are the same, and that the oscillation’s amplitude is small. Hilary and John linearize the boundary conditions to avoid solving a nonlinear free boundary problem with no explicit solution. They record the equation of motion for the container to couple the motion of the liquid and the spring. In this case, the spring’s tension and the pressure on the walls of the container are the acting horizontal forces.
The authors discover that including a string or a pendulum between the container and the carrying hand (the forcing mechanism) lessens the rigidity and dramatically decreases the lowest resonant frequency, thus diminishing sloshing for almost all frequencies. “Our model shows that, compared to an unpivoted tank, the amplitude of the lowest resonant response will be significantly reduced, provided the length of the pendulum is greater than the length of the tank.”
In conclusion, Hilary and John use simplistic modeling and analysis to explain a common phenomenon that nearly everybody experiences. They suggest that future analysts investigate sloshing in a cylindrical rather than rectangular mug, or with vertical rather than horizontal oscillations, as both of these factors complicate the model. One could also examine the spring action’s effect on the system’s nonlinear behavior near resonance. Ultimately, researchers can employ basic ideas from this study to consider the nonlinear response of shallow water sloshing, which has a variety of realworld applications.
A version of this article by Linda Sorg first appeared in SIAM news.

Sunday, 31 December 2017 
Oxford Mathematician Soumya Banerjee talks about his current work in progress.
"On warm summer days, fireflies mesmerise us with their glowing lights. They produce this cold light using a lightemitting molecule, the luciferin, and a complementary enzyme, luciferase. This process is known as bioluminescence.
Scientists have now genetically engineered this process in viruses. After infecting cells, these modified viruses (called replicons) produce light using the firefly genes. Recently this was used to study how West Nile virus (similar to Zika virus) infects cells.
I have now developed a mathematical model to analyse how firefly genes produce luminescence in these virus infected cells. The model predicts how the luminescence or brightness would gradually decrease as the cells infected by the virus are slowly killed off. This was then matched to experimental data.
The mathematical models predict that some cells in the lymph node live for about 12 hours after being infected with the virus. These cells also release the most virus into the blood. The work suggests that these particular cell types can be targeted using therapies such as antiviral medication to fight the infection."
You can read more about the work which is at prepublication stage here.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017 
Oxford Mathematician Christian Bick talks about his and colleagues' research into oscillator networks and how it could be valuable in understanding diseases such as Parkinson's.
"Many systems that govern crucial aspects of our lives can be seen as networks of interacting oscillators. On a small scale, for example, the human brain consists of individual cells that can send bits of information to each other periodically. On a large scale, the power grid of an entire country can be seen as a network of rotating units (generators and motors). The function of these oscillator networks crucially depends on how the units evolve together. For a power grid to be stable it needs to be synchronized to a common grid frequency—think of the 50Hz coming out of your power outlets at home. By contrast, too much synchronization in the brain is believed to be detrimental as it has been associated with a range of disorders such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.
Synchronization, where distinct units will behave in the same way as time goes on, can arise spontaneously in networks of interacting oscillators. Already Christian Huygens noticed in 1665 that two of his oscillating pendulum clocks showed an “odd kind of sympathy” when they were allowed to interact: they would swing in unison after some time. Mathematical models can help understand how network interactions—the coupling between oscillators—allow for synchronization to arise in oscillator networks.
In contrast to synchronized dynamics, we are interested in networks where identical oscillators can show distinct dynamics in the following sense. Take a collection of oscillators which would oscillate at the same frequency in isolation. Now when you make these oscillators interact in a particular way, then half of the oscillators will be oscillating at one frequency while the other half is oscillating at another frequency! In other words, there is a separation of frequencies that purely arise due to the network interactions. In work with collaborators at St. Louis University we studied this phenomenon in a network of four oscillators. We first analyzed the effect in a mathematical model. Guided by the theoretical work, we then demonstrated the same effect in an experimental setup of electrochemical oscillators with suitable network interactions.
Our results shed further light on the effect the network structure has on the dynamics of interacting oscillators. In particular, they indicate what network interactions allow for dynamics where only part of the oscillators are synchronized in frequency. Hence, if neural disease is indeed related to abnormal levels of synchrony, these insights could, for example, be useful in devising means to prevent or counteract pathological synchronization (as in Parkinson's disease) by tuning the network interactions."

Thursday, 14 December 2017 
In our Oxford Mathematics Christmas Public Lecture Alex Bellos challenges you with some festive brainteasers as he tells the story of mathematical puzzles from the Middle Ages to modern day.
Alex is the Guardian’s puzzle blogger as well as the author of several works of popular maths, including Puzzle Ninja, Can You Solve My Problems? and Alex’s Adventures in Numberland.
