Barry Simon colloquium on 12 December 2017

12 December 2017

Colloquium at UCL

Speaker: Prof Barry Simon (Caltech)

Title: More Tales of our Forefathers

This is not a mathematics talk but it is a talk for mathematicians. Too often, we think of historical mathematicians as only names assigned to theorems. With vignettes and anecdotes, I’ll convince you they were also human beings and that, as the Chinese say, “May you live in interesting times” really is a curse. More tales following up on the talk I gave at KCL in 2014. It is not assumed listeners heard that earlier talk. Among the mathematicians I’ll discuss are Riemann, Newton, von Neumann and Noether.

Time and Venue: 3.00pm in Room D103 (25 Godron Street), UCL. See the map for further details. There will be a small reception afterwards in Mathematics Room 502 (25 Gordon Street).



A Brief History of Mathematics

We recommend to listen to the Podcasts of Professor of Mathematics Marcus du Sautoy from BBC Radio 4. This ten part history of mathematics reveals the personalities behind the calculations: the passions and rivalries of mathematicians struggling to get their ideas heard. Professor Marcus du Sautoy shows how these masters of abstraction find a role in the real world and proves that mathematics is the driving force behind modern science.


Professor Marcus du Sautoy

Episode 2: Leonhard Euler 

Leonard Euler invented two hundred years ago has transformed the internet. Euler’s solution to an eighteenth century conundrum paved the way for the search engines most of us use every day . Download

Episode 3: Joseph Fourier

It’s thanks to Joseph Fourier’s mathematical insight that you can hear Marcus on the radio and that Brian Eno can create sounds that have never been heard before. Download

Episode 4: Evariste Galois

Evariste Galois has proved invaluable to particle physicists working today. The mathematics that Galois began, over two hundred years ago, now absolutely describes the fundamental particles that make up our universe. Download

Episode 5: Carl Friedrich Gauss

Carl Friedrich Gauss said mathematics was the Queen of Science. One of his many mathematical breakthroughs, the Gaussian or normal distribution, is the lifeblood of statistics. It underpins modern medicine and is a valuable tool in the fight against prejudice. Download

Episode 6: The Mathematicians Who Helped Einstein

The pioneering nineteenth century mathematicians who helped Albert Einstein with his maths: Janos Bolyai, Nikolai Lobachevsky and Bernhard Riemann. Without the mathematics to describe curved space and multiple dimensions, the theory of relativity doesn’t really work. Download

Episode 7: Georg Cantor

Georg Cantor showed us how to carry on counting when the numbers run out. An insight into the nature of infinity that Roger Penrose believes helps to explain why the human brain will always be cleverer than artificial intelligence. Download

Episode 8: Henri Poincare

Henri Poincare proved there are certain problems that mathematics will never be able to answer: a mathematical insight that gave rise to chaos theory. Download

Episode 9: G.H. Hardy and Srinivasa Ramanujan 

G.H.Hardy, the mathematician who insisted he had never done anything useful. And yet his work on the “diabolical malice” inherent in prime numbers inspired the millions of codes that now help to keep the internet safe. Download

Episode 10: Nicolas Bourbaki

The mathematician that never was, Nicolas Bourbaki. A group of French mathematicians, working between the two world wars and writing under the pseudonym Nicolas Bourbaki transformed their discipline and paved the way for several mathematical breakthroughs in the 21st century. Download


A Brief History of Mathematics

We recommend to listen to the Podcast of Professor of Mathematics Marcus du Sautoy from BBC Radio 4. He reveals the personalities behind the calculations and argues that mathematics is the driving force behind modern science.


Episode 1: Newton and Leibniz

This ten part history of mathematics reveals the personalities behind the calculations: the passions and rivalries of mathematicians struggling to get their ideas heard. Marcus du Sautoy shows how these masters of abstraction find a role in the real world and proves that mathematics is the driving force behind modern science.

Today, the story of two late 17th century mathematicians who worked on the same problem at the same time – the calculus – in which the great hero of British science, Newton, reveals himself to be a little less gentlemanly than his German rival, Leibniz. The calculus is one of the greatest achievements of mankind: an astronaut and an investment analyst pay homage to its enormous power.


Champan Fellowships in Mathematics at Imperial College London


We are seeking highly qualified new or recent (should be no earlier than 2014) PhDs for the prestigious Chapman Fellowship in Mathematics at Imperial College London. These research fellowships are for two years, and come with light teaching duties (about one course per year). To apply and for more information see:

(scroll down for more details).

You must apply at the above website and the closing date is *11 Dec 2017*; all applications must be received by that date to be considered. It will be helpful to receive your application earlier. Please note that reference letters can only be requested (directly
from your listed referees) after your application is received.

JSPS Summer Programme 2018

head_logoDear Prof. Michael Ruzhansky

We would appreciate your help to circulate the information about the call below as widely as possible:

JSPS Summer Programme 2018
Application Deadline: Monday 15th January 2018
Fellowship to take place during fixed period: Tuesday 12 June to Wednesday 22 August 2018

The JSPS Summer Programme provides the opportunity for current MPhil or PhD students to receive a one week orientation on Japanese culture and research systems on arrival and then move to a host institution in Japan of their choice and approved by JSPS, to conduct collaborative research activities for 2 months during the summer.

Value of award: Return international airfare, maintenance allowance (534,000, JPY), research support allowance (158,500 JPY) and overseas travel and accident insurance policy are provided.

Eligibility: Applicants must be a British national and a current MPhil or PhD student based at a UK university or research institution at the time of application. Eligible research fields are not limited.

Applications should be sent to the British Council Tokyo. A link to application guidelines and form are available on the JSPS London website here:

Also case studies written by former UK JSPS Summer Programme Fellows can be found here:

Any enquiries should be sent to:

Please pass this information on to any eligible and interested parties.

Rauan Akylzhanov receives Doris Chen Merit Award

Rauan Akylzhanov

Rauan Akylzhanov receives the highest level of the Doris Chen Merit Awards to promising PhD students.





These awards by the Department of Mathematics of Imperial College London recognise exceptional early promise and achievement and are given on a very competitive basis after 2 years of PhD work.

Congratulations, Rauan!

Several awards were given but Rauan received the highest level award with the highest reward of £1,000.