The mathematics of peer pressure

How much do you think your opinions are affected by the people around you? And how much do you think they are affected by the people one, or two, or three steps removed from you — by friends of friends of friends…? Using ideas from network theory, two of our colleagues, Prof. Ernesto Estrada and Eusebio Vargas-Estrada, have developed a way in which we can start to answer questions like these. For a relatively non-technical account, see the University’s official press release. If you want the details, the full scientific paper has just been published in Scientific Reports, and it’s been published “open access” which means it’s free for anyone to read. Go and take a look — everybody else is doing so!

[Snarky bit: there is a small prize consisting solely of kudos for anyone who can explain what the equation used to illustrate the University press release has to do with the story it illustrates.. There’s a larger prize, in the same currency, for anyone who can tell me whether I thought of that question myself or whether I only did it under pressure from a friend of a friend of a friend…]

(DP)

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Strathclyde professor on television(s)

Strathclyde will be hosting an IMA Scottish Branch event on Wednesday 23 October, at which our own Prof. Nigel Mottram will give a talk on “The Mathematics of Televisions”. The talk will take place in LT908 (Livingstone Tower) from 1730; it’s open and free to both members and non-members. See here for an abstract of the talk.

(DP)

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Bees on the Beeb

Those of you who keep an eye on the BBC’s Scottish news pages may have noticed an article that appeared today about losses to Scottish honey bee colonies. This article is based on the findings of the latest survey of beekeepers in Scotland, and two of our colleagues — Dr Alison Gray and Mr Magnus Peterson — are given their due credit for the work.

This survey is the latest instalment of a project that has been running since 2006 with the support of the Scottish Beekeepers’ Association, and has built up a crucial set of data on the fate of the bee population. Further details are available on Dr Gray’s web page. The fate of bees isn’t of interest only to a few enthusiasts: because so many plants rely on bees as pollinators, a healthy bee population can be crucial to food security. And, as with so many other complex and important issues, getting hold of good quality data is a vital first step for those whose job is to understand and mitigate the problems.

It’s good to be reminded that statisticians — and our colleagues in particular — are making yet another of their vital but often invisible contributions to society and to science…

(DP)

Update: the full press release was reproduced by several media outlets, and can be found, for example, here. The STV coverage, which also follows the press release closely but links to other stories, can be found here.

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Bletchley Park at the Edinburgh Fringe

It’s possible that you feel you’ve heard enough in recent years about Alan Turing and the remarkable project that was Bletchley Park. If, on the other hand, the media coverage has merely whetted your appetite, then you might be interested in an upcoming production called That Is All You Need To Know at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. To quote from the producers’ description:

Using personal testimony, multimedia technology and inventive staging this devised piece of visual theatre is a celebration of humanities [sic] ability to solve the impossible, to crack the most complex of problems, and of the extraordinary people whose quiet work changed the course of our history.

The play will run from 2 to 24 August (except 11 and 18 August), starting at 1705, at Zoo Southside, Venue 82.

(DP)

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Strathclyde calling young mathematicians: update

As we previously announced, on 16 November 2013 Strathclyde will be hosting the IMA Early Career Mathematicians’ Conference for Autumn 2013. Four invited speakers have now been confirmed:

The local organisers are Prof. Nigel Mottram and Dr Tony Mulholland, so please let them know if you have any queries.

(DP)

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But is it Art?

Those who recall Dr Andre Sonnet’s entry to this year’s Images of Research competition may like to know that he’s not alone in seeing the visual appeal of mathematicians’ blackboards. A recent article in the London Guardian describes the work of a photographer called Alejandro Guijarro, who’s built up an impressive collection of such images. It’s worth a look — and especially if you like trying to puzzle out what was going on before the eraser arrived!

(DP)

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Strathclyde calling young mathematicians

On 16 November 2013, Strathclyde will be hosting the IMA Early Career Mathematicians’ Conference for Autumn 2013. The details have yet to be confirmed, but if you think this might be of interest, please save the date and keep an eye on the IMA pages for further updates. (The local organisers are Prof. Nigel Mottram and Dr Tony Mulholland, so please let them know if you have any queries.)

(DP)

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