All talks are to be held in the Winstanley Lecture Theatre in Trinity College, and will begin at 8.30pm with port and juice from 8.15pm. With the exception of the film night, which is open to all, talks are members only; non-members may join at the door.
Monday, 19th January: Film Night: A Beautiful Mind (2001)
John Nash is on the brink of international acclaim when he becomes entangled in a mysterious conspiracy. Starring Russell Crowe.
Monday, 26th January: Prof. Sir Timothy Gowers (DPMMS): Can interesting mathematics problems be solved systematically?
Solving a mathematics problem that is not a routine exercise can often feel more like an art than a science. Different people attack problems in different ways, and ideas can appear to spring into one’s mind from nowhere. I shall argue that solving problems is a much more systematic process than it appears, and shall also try to explain why, if that is the case, it has the features that make us think that it isn’t. For the bulk of the talk, I shall attempt, with help from the audience, to solve an Olympiad-style problem that I have not seen before, and to do so systematically rather than by waiting for a clever idea to appear out of the blue. The attempt is not guaranteed to succeed, but I hope that it will be informative whether or not it does.
Monday, 2nd February: Dr. Milan Vojnovic (Microsoft Research): How to divide prize money?
The question of how to split a prize purse between position prizes in a contest has a long and rich history going all the way back to the work by Galton (1902). The economists’ approach to this question is to assume that contestants strategically invest efforts aiming at selfishly maximizing their payoffs, which combine in some way the value of winning a prize and the cost of production. How should a contest owner split a prize purse with the goal of maximizing the expected total effort in an equilibrium? What if the goal is to maximize the expected maximum individual effort?
Monday, 9th February: Dr. Paul Birrell (MRC Biostatistics Unit): The Anatomy of an Influenza Pandemic
Monday, 16th February: Dr. Henry Wilton (DPMMS): The Banach-Tarski Paradox
The Banach-Tarski Paradox is the counter-intuitive fact that a sphere can be cut into finitely many pieces and reassembled into two copies of itself. Of course, you can’t do this in real life, but it’s more than just a curiosity. In fact, it’s the start of a beautiful mathematical story at the heart of modern group theory, geometry, logic and analysis. I’ll try to tell some of that story.
Sunday, 22nd February: Symposium
Monday, 2nd March: Prof. Imre Leader/Dr. Thomas Forster (DPMMS): ‘This House believes that the continuum is not always a continuum.’
Monday, 9th March: Dr. Eric Lauga (DAMTP): The mathematical life of microbes.
While we all know that fluid dynamics allows planes to fly and boats to sail, it is less known that it also plays a crucial role in many biological processes. Here we will illustrate a particular biological phenomenon which actively uses the presence of a flowing liquid, namely how small organisms such as bacteria and algae use hydrodynamic forces to self-propel.