Centre for Mathematical Sciences Research Seminars
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The Centre for Mathematical Sciences research seminars and events are listed below.

The four main seminar series are in applied mathematics, pure mathematics, statistics and theoretical physics. Visit the centre's webpages for the latest seminar updates and information.

Tuesday 23 June: Introduction to topological data analysis

  • Speaker:  Professor Jeffrey Giansiracusa (Swansea)

Abstract: In this talk Jeffrey will give a tour of how ideas and tools from topology are helping to provide important new methods of visualising, analysing, and exploring complex and high dimensional data sets. Jeffrey will describe the Mapper algorithm of Ayasdi and some of its applications, and then introduce persistent homology and discuss some of the ways it is getting used, both as a standalone tool, and as part of statistical analysis and machine learning pipelines. This talk will be accessible to those with no previous exposure to data science; you need only know about open coverings, simplicial complexes, and homology.

This seminar is organised by Nathan Broomhead and will be delivered via Zoom. Email nathan.broomhead@plymouth.ac.uk for information.

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Today's events


Wednesday 25 September: The Teaching Statistics Trust Lecture 2019 - The purpose of statistics is insight not numbers

  • Speaker: Neil Sheldon

Abstract: In recent years, statistics teaching has seen a welcome move away from formulae and calculation. Especially with the rise of ‘big data’, numerical processing is increasingly being done with software, and it is becoming much more important for students to learn the art and science of interpretation. This development requires teachers to change focus too, shifting their emphasis from numbers to language.

As with many academic disciplines, statistics overlays everyday language with specialist meaning: one familiar example is the word ‘significant’ which means very different things in everyday use and in statistics. Research shows that parallel meanings such as this make it harder for students to understand technical concepts. Research also shows that teaching with a richer vocabulary can help to overcome this problem of understanding.

But statistics is more than just an academic discipline, it is a vital element of citizenship: we all need statistical understanding to make sense of the world around us. Yet statistical data are routinely misunderstood and misinterpreted in the media. In most cases the errors arise, not from the numbers themselves, but from the confused and inaccurate language used to comment on them. Clear language is essential to clear thought.

This lecture, drawing on numerous practical examples, explored the ways in which careful use of language can help everyone – teachers, students and citizens – to understand statistics better, whether in formulating enquiries, interpreting data, or reaching trustworthy conclusions and communicating them effectively.

Neil Sheldon was a teacher for more than 40 years. He is a Chartered Statistician and a former Vice-President of the Royal Statistical Society. He was the RSS Guy Lecturer in 2007-8 and he is currently Chair of the Teaching Statistics Trust. Neil’s other academic interests include philosophy and linguistics.

The Teaching Statistics Trust Lecture is given annually at multiple locations. It is aimed at teachers of statistics, whether specialist or non-specialist, in secondary schools, colleges and early years of university.

Wednesday 2 October: Dark energy in the lab - searching for chameleons and symmetrons with atom interferometry

  • Speaker: Benjamin Elder (Nottingham)

Abstract: Theories of dark energy generically introduce new degrees of freedom to the gravitational sector. These degrees of freedom mediate a fifth force between matter particles, which can in principle be an O(1) correction to General Relativity. Compatibility with traditional tests of gravity requires that such forces be dynamically suppressed, or screened, in certain environments like the Solar System. Benjamin discussed how a new generation of laboratory-based measurements of gravity, designed to be sensitive to screened forces, are playing a vital role in the search for dark energy. In particular, he focused on two popular models of screened dark energy, the chameleon and the symmetron, and the strong new bounds on those theories coming from atom interferometers.

Wednesday 16 October: Loss-based prior for variable selection in linear regression methods

  • Speaker: Cristiano Villa (University of Kent)

Abstract: In this work we propose a novel model prior for variable selection in linear regression. The idea is to determine the prior mass by considering the worth of each of the regression models, given the number of possible covariates under consideration. The worth of a model consists of the information loss and the loss due to model complexity. While the information loss is determined objectively, the loss expression due to model complexity is flexible and, the penalty on model size can be even customized to include some prior knowledge. Some versions of the loss-based prior are proposed and compared empirically. Through simulation studies and real data analyses, we compare the proposed prior to the Scott and Berger prior, for non-informative scenarios, and with the Beta-Binomial prior, for informative scenarios.

Wednesday 30 October: Pigeon-holes and mustard seeds - growing capacity to use data for society

  • Speaker: Professor Deborah Ashby (Imperial College London)

The Royal Statistical Society was founded to address social problems ‘through the collection and classification of facts’, leading to many developments in the collection of data, the development of methods for analysing them, and the development of statistics as a profession. Nearly 200 years later an explosion in computational power has led, in turn, to an explosion in data. We outline the challenges and the actions needed to exploit that data for the public good, and to address the step change in statistical skills and capacity development necessary to enable our vision of a world where data are at the heart of understanding and decision-making.

Wednesday 6 November: Colloquium - The complex dynamics of Faraday Pilot Waves: a hydrodynamic quantum analogue

  • Speaker: Paul Milewski (Bath)

Abstract: Faraday pilot waves are a newly discovered hydrodynamic structure that consists a bouncing droplet which creates, and is propelled by, a Faraday surface wave. These pilot waves can behave in extremely complex ways exhibiting a classical form of wave-particle duality, and result in dynamics mimicking quantum mechanics, including multiple quantisation, probabilistic particle distributions reminiscent of QM, diffraction and tunnelling. Paul showed some of this fascinating behaviour and developed a surface wave-droplet fluid model that captured many of the features observed, and focused on rationalising the emergence of the statistics of complex states.

Wednesday 13 November: The universal route to rogue waves via Instanton Theory

  • Speaker: Tobias Grafke (Warwick)

Abstract: In stochastic systems, extreme events are known to be described by “instantons”, saddle point configurations of the action of the associated stochastic field theory. In this talk, Tobias presented experimental evidence of a hydrodynamic instanton in a real world fluid system: A 270m wave channel experiment in Norway. The experiment attempts to model conditions on the ocean in order to observe so-called rogue waves, realisations of extreme ocean surface elevation out of relatively calm surroundings. These rogue waves are also observed in the ocean, where they are rare and hard to predict but pose significant danger to naval vessels. We show that the instanton approach, which is rigorously grounded in large deviation theory, offers a unified description of rogue waves in the water tank, covering the entire range of parameters for deep water waves in the ocean. In particular, this approach allows for a unified description of both the predominantly linear and the highly nonlinear regimes, and is able to predict the experimental data in the tank regardless of the strength of the nonlinearity.

Monday 27 January:  What happens when a period vanishes?

  • Speaker: Hossein Movasati (IMPA Brazil)

Abstract: A period is a number obtained by integration of an algebraic differential form over a topological cycle. In this talk Hossein reviewed few phenomena which follow from the vanishing of periods. This included the arise of limit cycles in planar differential equations, contraction of curves and the millennium Hodge conjecture.

Wednesday 29 January: Comprehensive analysis of innovate activities in science and technology

  • Speaker: Li Zhang (Yunnan University)

Abstract: The purpose of this research is to provide a set of statistical methods for administrative authority who organises and evaluates innovate activities in science and technology. Statistical methods can be used to describe innovate activities, evaluate the innovators, and extract information from the large and sparse data, in order to help administrative authority to develop effective science and technology policy.

With a case study on the evaluation of 31 districts in China, this research includes the following aspects:

  • Establish an indicator system about innovate input, output and environment.
  • Describe the quantitative features of indicators by data visualization and summary statistics.
  • Create composite indicators to evaluate the innovate activities across 31 districts in China.

Thursday 14 May: Frobenius and spherical codomains and neighbourhoods

  • Speaker: Andreas Hochenegger (Milano)

Abstract: In this talk Andreas will report on a joint work with Ciaran Meachan. Given an exact functor between triangulated categories, one can try to compare its left and right adjoint. In some special cases, it is possible to enforce that both adjoints are equal (i.e. the functor becomes Frobenius) or differ by an autoequivalence (i.e. the functor becomes spherical or quasi-Frobenius). Andreas will present these constructions, which lead to the codomains and neighbourhoods of the title, and give also some examples of algebro-geometric origin.

Thursday 28 May: Cones and symmetries of projective varieties

  • Speaker: Artie Prendergast-Smith (Loughborough)

Abstract: A smooth projective variety can be viewed as a compact manifold, but its cohomology groups have extra structure: the classes of subvarieties of a given dimension span a convex cone in the relevant (real) cohomology group. For some classes of varieties these cones are easy to compute, but their structure remains mysterious in general. Artie will explain a conjecture, due to Morrison and Kawamata, that aims to describe these cones for varieties with “nonnegative curvature”. Time permitting I will discuss the case of elliptic Calabi–Yau 3-folds, which may be of interest in theoretical physics.

Friday 29 May: Classical and Bayesian Models and Methods for Covid-19

  • Speaker: Giovanni Sebastiani (Italy)

Abstract: Giovanni presented some mathematical models to describe the diffusion of Covid-19 epidemic and some methods for the analysis of related data developed within both classical and Bayesian frameworks. Different aspects will be addressed, e.g. modeling, simulation, estimation, forecast. Some results obtained by applying the mathematical models and methods to COVID-19 data in Italy were shown.