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Mathematics Today

Mathematics Today is the membership publication of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications.

Issued six times a year, this general interest mathematics publication provides articles, reports, reviews and news for mathematicians.

Mathematics Today - Advertising

Mathematics Today reaches a worldwide readership of over 4,400 professional mathematicians six times a year. It carries advertising for mathematics books, software, job vacancies, financial services and a whole range of products of interest to our readers.

In addition to competitive rates, a 10% discount is available to Institute members and publishers. Discounts may also be provided for multiple purchases. All adverts are in full colour and job vacancies qualify for discounted web adverts.

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Current features and articles 

There was a smart chap called Einstein,
Whose theories curved way out of line,
He claimed light is bent,
No one knew what he meant,
But now we all think he’s divine.

Yes, I know, don’t give up the day job! Anyway, pick a word from the first line of the limerick. Now count the number of letters it contains and progress that number of words. For example, ‘Einstein’ contains eight letters and maps onto ‘He’. Repeat this process to the end of the limerick and I guarantee ... [drum roll] … that you will end up on the word ‘divine’. This exercise seems to demonstrate the convergence of a Markov chain, though we can do better than that. Wherever you started, you selected the word ‘light’ en route and this is my theme for this issue of Mathematics Today. The United Nations has declared 2015 to be the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL), and with very good reason. This year celebrates several anniversaries of events that changed our perceptions of light significantly.

An Interview with Alexandra Randolph

Alexandra Randolph née Neville CMath MIMA is a teacher at St Paul’s Girls’ School in London. Her PhD was on the reaction and diffusion of chemicals within tumours. When Alex became a chartered mathematician, Rick Crawford CMath MIMA caught up with her for this interview.

I’d be interested to know about your voluntary work for the UK Mathematics Trust.

I help mark the Maclaurin Olympiad paper, set questions for the Junior Mathematical Olympiad and Senior Team Challenge and help at teacher meetings. I’ve also helped out at their summer schools and given a lecture to 200 teachers about stretch and challenge in the classroom. It’s really good to work closely with such great mathematical material for the classroom, but also to meet mathematicians from a range of backgrounds.

Improving Access for State-School Students

E ThorringtonIn a Guardian article [1] in November 2014, Paul Mason described how students from private schools have an advantage over state-educated students when applying for courses at leading universities. We support his conclusion that there should be a system that offers clear and transparent information about the requirements for courses, so that all students, whatever their background or type of school or college, understand what is required to access prestigious undergraduate degree courses.

Urban Maths: Mind Your S’s and D’s

I still spend some time writing computer code, but not half as much as I used to do when I first began my career. Back in those days, which are longer ago than I would care to mention, I typed many more lines of code than I did lines of text. And the nature of the code I was writing, and the tools that I was using, meant that I typed string quite a lot.  Now, that wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, but that sequence of characters has become permanently lodged in the muscle memory of my fingers, so much so that when I try to write strong I often end up with string instead.

Full contents page of the April 2015 printed issue
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Content from the February 2015 issue


The opportunity of editing Mathematics Today was one that I seized gratefully. For the past thirty years, I have enjoyed receiving copies of this general interest mathematics publication (formerly IMA Bulletin), so I am delighted to have this chance of contributing to its ongoing success. It had already been published for twenty years before I subscribed and early issues are still well worth reading.

My predecessor, Professor Linton, maintained and improved the quality of Mathematics Today and I echo the vote of thanks that appeared in December’s issue. All members of the Editorial Board generously and voluntarily donate considerable time and effort, as do the many authors of feature articles, reviews and correspondence. Of course, much credit is due to the Editorial Officer, Rebecca Waters, and other professional IMA staff.

University Liaison: Industrial Placements

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a good holiday and success if you had start of year exams. Good luck for those of you having interviews this term.

We are really fortunate to have for this issue, two pieces by Waleed Backler from University of Greenwich about his one year internship with the Department of Health and NHS England and his short PLACE (Patient-Led Assessments of the Care Environment) assignment at Leeds Teaching Hospitals.

Are You Paying Too Much for Your Car Insurance?

E ThorringtonInsurers are risk-takers, accepting premiums to cover unknown, but potentially very large, future insured events; insurers have to balance complex theoretical mathematics with commercial considerations; they must be profitable but yet offer commercially acceptable premiums. In particular, in the car insurance market insurers have to take into account the possibility of selling the customer other products, real time pricing (as a result of price comparison websites) and new EU-wide Solvency II rules for capital management.

Full contents page of the February 2015 printed issue
to receive Mathematics Today subscribe or join the IMA!

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