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EPSRC very quietly relents on maths funding

The EPSRC has silently updated its table of “areas in which fellowships are available” to include “intradisciplinary research” in mathematical sciences at all career stages. According to a post by Timothy Gowers on Google+, this “means in practice pretty much all of maths.”

If that’s right, this is a complete U-turn by the EPSRC after they controversially decided not to accept applications in any area of maths apart from statistics and applied probability, as part of their “Shaping capability” programme.

They’ve also changed their diagram of topics in the mathematical sciences, leaving no trace of the original one which had pretty much all of maths marked as “under review”.  Back in July 2011, Timothy Gowers wrote a rather angry response to the proposals, including a description of the diagram:

The various areas are represented by blue circles of differing sizes, with the exception of Statistics and Applied Probability, which has a dark green circle. And a little key on the left tells us that dark green means “grow” and blue means “under review”. If you click on a circle, you can find out what proportion of mathematical funding goes to that area. For instance, I find that Logic and Combinatorics gets 3.4%, Mathematical Analysis 10.4%, Algebra, Geometry, Topology and Number Theory (quite an area that) 17.1%, and so on. Statistics and Applied Probability is currently on 14.1%.

In the new version of the diagram, “Statistics and Applied Probability” is the only area marked “GROW”, Mathematical Physics is the only one marked “REDUCE” and everything  else is marked “MAINTAIN”. Interestingly, the previous diagram had a single topic labelled “Algebra, Geometry, Topology and Number Theory”, while the new one has them much more sensibly in separate bubbles. Special bonus points to anyone who noticed that the areas of the bubbles are not directly proportional the their associated funding totals. Further bonus points to anyone who can explain where applied maths fits in; the diagram makes it look like there is more funding for pure than applied, which surely can’t be right.

A friend of The Aperiodical who is subscribed to a lot of the EPSRC’s mailing lists says that he hadn’t heard anything about this change. Maybe they’ll say something formal in the near future.

Information: Areas in which fellowships are available from the EPSRC

Source: Timothy Gowers on Google+

Previously: EPSRC funding crisis

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