At Brunel giving the same talk, differently

Today I woke in Uxbridge and spent part of the day with Victor Arulchandran at Brunel University. I gave my careers talk first to the third year, where I was joined by the mathematics careers advisor, Raj Sidhu. I focused the talk on the career development aspects – the benefits of joining a professional body to commit to your professional development and help improve your career prospects. Following this, I gave the same talk to the second year, where I was joined by the mathematics placement officer, Reay Elliott. I focused the talk on the skills acquisition aspects and developing yourself during your degree by aiming to develop (and be able to evidence) the skills businesses want and those they think maths graduates don’t have (overcoming those ole’ stereotypes). The picture below is of the Mathematical Sciences building at Brunel. Victor and I had lunch then I jumped on a train to Cardiff.

Mathematics at Brunel University

Hold the bandwagon, I want to get on

I have been considering for a while the phenomenon that is Twitter. The BBC programme (or podcast) Digital Planet this week described it as: “until relatively recently, Twitter, where people just decribe what they’re doing in 140 characters or less was a rather niche, almost geeky thing” but it is now hitting the mainstream with celebrities and several people I know now using it. As a bone fide geek I have been following the development of Twitter for a while but haven’t quite taken the plunge. Now it is really taking off I have decided to give it a go for a trial period. (Or a trail period – one of the groups in my maths skills class at Nottingham Trent wrote in their project plan they would approach the problem in the first instance by “trail and error”. As my officemate quipped, “they’ve got the error part right”).

So from now and for now as well as my website, blog, podcast and pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and YouTube, I will now also be tweeting via


Last week I stayed in Bristol on my way back from Plymouth. As I was going to be there I contacted both Bristol Universities and am pleased to report that at embarrasingly short notice they were both able to arrange for me to give my careers talk. First I travelled to University of West of England (UWE) and gave a talk to a small group there. This was a nice, relaxed environment and my talk was well received – I have been asked to come back and give it (with more notice!) to a skills/careers module. The picture below is of the building where I gave my talk.

University of West of England Maths and Stats
Next came the University of Bristol Department of Mathematics. I visited Bristol before earlier in 2008 and so was familiar with it. This helped, since the chap who had arranged the talk was unable to meet me. I was at the front of the lecture theatre with 40 or so students looking at me and no idea what to do! Thankfully, Dan Lindsay of Matrix was in the audience and shouted out advice on how to get the projection system working. The talk went well and seemed to be well received. The picture below is of the maths building.

University of Bristol MathematicsWandering the corridors I took the picture below. Bristol is a university with degrees approved under the IMA Programme Approval Scheme and the picture below shows that they are proudly displaying their certificates. I have also noticed that they are boasting their approval on their website. This is really good to see, since it helps increase the IMA’

University of Bristol IMA Programme Approval Certificates

Podcast Episode 17: History with Noel-Ann Bradshaw, al-Kharazmi

These are the show notes for episode 17 of the Travels in a Mathematical World podcast. 17 is prime, the only prime of the form pq + qp, where p and q are prime. More about the number 17 from Number Gossip.

In the regular Maths History series, Noel-Ann Bradshaw of the University of Greenwich and also Meetings Co-ordinator of the British Society for the History of Mathematics talks about the life of al-Kharazmi. You can read a biography of al-Kharazmi at the MacTutor History of Maths Archive, read more information on the al-Kharazmi page at Wikipedia and find out about the concept of Algorithms at Wikipedia and a history of algebra at

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by reading this blog and visiting

Most southerly maths careers

University of Plymouth sign
This week I went to the University of Plymouth for a Maths & Stats careers event. This took the form of 3 parallel sessions of 2 speakers each which repeated once, in which representatives of various employers (many Plymouth alumni) gave talks on their careers. Before the first session was a lunch and in between the sessions there was a tea break, during both of which I operated an IMA stall among a couple of others.

IMA stall at careers event in Plymouth
I took my usual approach, baiting mathematicians with interesting puzzles and then slipping careers advice into their hands and telling them about the IMA when they’re drawn in. This had the usual selection of puzzles, plus a couple of others I bought or was bought over Christmas (thank you Scott!). I made sure everyone left the stall with a postcard advertising the Maths Careers website, an IMA Maths Careers Advice leaflet and a flyer advertising the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast. I had a really enjoyable day and I think it was useful for the students and the IMA as well. I gave out 80 of these leaflets to students plus a couple to the careers staff and a couple to the maths staff so hoping that will do some good!

I didn’t see very much of Plymouth, as I was only able to stay for about half an hour either side of the 4 hour careers event. Alas, I didn’t find time to see the sea. I could at one point see that a couple of streets away the buildings stopped, a clear indication I have reached the edge of the world. I walked past a couple of interesting pubs, including one called The Fresher & Professor, which for some reason has Herbie The Love Bug sticking out of the top!

Fresher and Professor

Circles, round and otherwise, and after-talk networking at Birmingham

Last week I attended an enjoyable talk by Dr. Chris Sangwin on some of the interesting results from his book with John Bryant, “How Round is Your Circle?” at the invitation of the University of Birmingham Mathsoc. This was followed by an after-talk networking session put on by the Mathsoc using an IMA University Liaison Grant, which was a nice atmosphere for students and staff to mingle.

You can watch a video of Chris demonstrating the property of solids of constant width on YouTube and there is further information in the book and through the website at