Author of The Pleasures of Counting to deliver Public Lecture on Mathemat

Monday, 23 March 2009

The distinguished Cambridge University mathematician Professor Tom Körner, author of The Pleasures of Counting, will deliver a free public lecture at NUI Galway on Monday, 6 April, at 6pm in the Kirwan Lecture Theatre. Professor Tom Körner in his lectures, books and publications uses Mathematics to help people understand the world around them, and his lecture is designed to engage the general public with the subject. In The Pleasures of Counting, Professor Körner uses examples as diverse as the outbreak of cholera in Victorian Soho and the Battle of the Atlantic, to show some of the real-life problems with which mathematicians engage. Entitled 'Mathematics and Smallpox', his hour-long lecture at NUI Galway will explain in simple terms how Mathematics is used to understand disease epidemics. In the 18th century a new technique of inoculation was introduced for smallpox. The idea was controversial since, in effect, the process deliberately gave an uninfected person a form of the disease. Professor Körner will explain how in 1776, Daniel Bernoulli tried to use early statistical ideas to see whether the case for inoculation was valid. Many of his Bernoulli's ideas still resonate today. The lecture coincides with NUI Galway hosting the 61st British Mathematical Colloquium, from 6-9 April, which is being held outside of the UK for the first time. The Colloquium is a joint meeting with the Irish Mathematical Society and is expected to attract some 250 mathematicians. Plenary speakers will include: Professor David Eisenbud, University of Berkeley, California; Professor Ben Green, University of Cambridge; Professor Ron Graham, San Diego University, California; Professor Rostislav Grigorchuk, Texas A&M University; and Professor Frances Kirwan, University of Oxford. Professor Ted Hurley of the Mathematics Department at NUI Galway believes the world of Mathematics is more engaging and applicable than most people realise: "The upcoming Colloquium is a very prestigious event in the Mathematics calendar and while there will be lots of 'deep end' Mathematics discussed, the public lecture will be very accessible to anyone with a basic interest. Tom Körner is a storyteller of the Mathematics world. He demonstrates that every part of the world around us can be understood through the lens of mathematics. Mathematics is all about questioning, investigating and fulfilling curiosity". Professor Hurley added: "Mathematics develops keen thinking and problem solving skills and whatever the economic climate, those qualified in the field will be in demand, not only in obvious fields such as finance, science and computer science -particularly information theory, communications and security - but in new areas from computer game generation, through medical imaging to climate change analysis, all of which require highly numerate graduates who can understand and work with the sophisticated mathematical systems now in use in these areas". Admission to the free public lecture by Professor Tom Körner is by ticket only. For further details or to book a ticket, e-mail or telephone (091) 492332.

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