The Mathematics Department has recently linked up with the newly opened Lancaster University School of Mathematics, which is part of Cardinal Newman College. A number of Year 10 students are taking part in Mathematics revision sessions managed by LUSoM, who aim to encourage greater uptake of Mathematics at A-Level and university level. LUSoM have also arranged a set of online lectures from prominent figures in Mathematics which the pupils have been invited to take part in.
The first live lecture took place on Thursday 13th May and featured Dr Nira Chamberlain on “What is the point of Mathematics?”. Dr Chamberlain is a British mathematician based in Birmingham. In 2018, he was the Winner of the ‘Big Internet Math-Off title – World’s Most Interesting Mathematician’ and holds the title as the 5th Most Influential Black Person in the UK. He has also developed mathematical solutions within industries such as the defence, aerospace, automotive and energy sectors.
A summary of the events has been put together by our students:
“On Thursday, we had the opportunity to have a maths talk with the world’s most interesting mathematician, Dr Nira Chamberlain. He introduced himself and told us a little bit about his past experiences and his childhood. One key thing he told us was, “If you dig deep into something, you will find that it starts with mathematics.” He then told us something about his childhood and how he wanted to be a mathematician but his teacher advised him that he would be a great boxer/wrestler. That night, he went home and told his parents and they said, “No-one can stop you from becoming a great mathematician.”
On the call, we learnt about ‘The Random Walk’ and how this mathematical equation can be used in real life situations. The purpose of this probability theory is to determine the probable location of a point subject to random motions. The random walk can be used as an algorithm and determines the probability of an object’s location by repeating difference sequences of motions to cover all possible movement combinations. Wherever there is the highest concentration of results, this is where the object is most likely to be. Dr Chamberlain used this in a real-life scenario of locating a crash site for a commercial airline. To this day, its location has not been found.
We then looked at the Gambler’s Ruin problem, which determines the probability of one person (out of two players) ending up with all the cards and winning, after a random process determines who passes a card onto another player in a competitive environment. This was later linked to the competition of an AI systems vs Humans and how without any interferences, AI systems will be the downfall of human businesses. We watched a simulation of how the rate of evolution of new businesses from existing businesses will slow down as AI becomes more prevalent. Dr Chamberlain then continued to tell us how this could potentially be solved, i.e. take profit from AI businesses and give them to humans so that they can continue to compete. Through this approach, the speed at which AI systems expands can be capped to never account for over half of the majority of total businesses.
Towards the end of the lecture, we looked in greater depth at his dissertation and how he could apply his simulation showing how a joint acted under a large impact to the technology in the film, Black Panther. This cinematic turn in events was gripping as it depicted how the suit used by the Black Panther can use his approach to turn science fiction into reality. It would be possible to create this suit as the kinetic force imparted onto one small area of the suit can be dispersed so that it is spread out over the whole body which weakens its impact/damage to any one area. This was an interesting use of mathematics that connects the world of science fiction concepts to real life applications.”
My thanks to Diljeet and Mya for their summary of the lecture.
There are two further lectures planned this term:
James Grimes – 28th May 2021 – Bits and Pieces: Secrets of a Digital World.
Katie Seckles – 14th June 2021 – ‘Maths’s Greatest Unsolved Puzzles’.
To register your interest and attendance at these events, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
See this YouTube video for key parts of the lecture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m45Z0sDyVo0
Mr Cheal, Maths Department