2016 Conference - list of proposed talk titles

This is a provisional schedule of talks for the 2016 MathsJam Weekend.

To submit a suggestion for a table activity on the Saturday night, please complete the table activity submission form.


Session 1a : 14:15 - 15:02

YOUR HOSTWelcome to MathsJam 2016!
Colin WrightConstructions with Obstructions
David BedfordName That Polynomial!
Alison KiddleMore than one way to skin a cat
Michael BorcherdsSingular Value Decomposition
Donald BellSymmetric Oddities (and Eventies)
Martyn ParkerBills of Mortality
Phil HarveyThe pigeonhole principle

Session 1b : 15:25 - 16:12

Adam AtkinsonEverything Old is New Again, Again
Phil RamsdenFactorising A Large Semiprime When The Person Who Supplied It Has Been A Bit Careless
Andrew MacdonaldBig O and little o, a tale of two Os
Derek CouzensWau - a constant more important than e or pi!!!
Adam TownsendIs there a perfect maths font?
Peter RowlettMathematical Toddler Toys
Noel-Ann BradshawNightingale's Nightmare
Jorge Nuno SilvaA mathematical card trick from Moscow's Olympiads

Session 1c : 16:35- 17:22

Jonathan HistedBoomerangs
Daniel GrillerThe Puzzle Vault
Kathryn TaylorLucky Numbers
Martin OwenMore effective strategies for experimenting
Sam HeadleandMathematics of matrimony
Rogerio MartinsThe (not so simple!) chain fountain
Zoe GriffithsZoe's thing talk
TarimWhat is real?

Session 1d : 17:45 - 18:32

Matthew ScroggsMENACE
Sam HartburnHexagonal Games
John BibbyWorld Maths Year & the need for more maths t-shirts
Michael GibsonGuess Who missed a trick! (Turn and face the ternary)
Paul WalterLet epsilon be 1
Martin WhitworthNumerical frieze patterns
Kathy CohenGoing round in circles...
Ben SparksEine kleine Mathmusik


Session 2a : 08:50 - 09:37

Christian Lawson-Perfect2A: A clever horse - theory and applications
Paul TaylorBinary numbers: a suggested improvement
Geoff MorleyA schoolboy's surprise for Professor Tutte
Callum MulliganArt and Mathematics: A tale of logic and creativity.
Sue de PomeraiMoessner's magic
Alistair BirdSolomon Golomb
Robert LowArithmetic for the (three-fingered) mathematician

Session 2b : 10:00 - 10:47

Gina WorthSpirolaterals, maybe with a bit of time travel
Will KirkbyBricks, Plates, and Patterns
Nicholas KorpelainenAlice and Bob eat some pizza
Katie StecklesSpreadsheet on my phone/Multiples of nine
Nicholas JacksonFractran
TiagoDactylonomy in 7 ways
Matt ParkerMatt talks about a thing

Two Minute

Session 2c : 11:15 - 11:48

Karen HancockAPs of Perfect squares
Noel FrancePillow Problem 49 and a cube of cheese
David MitchellLattice Labyrinth Tessellations
John ReadCode Club and a 'Number' poem
Carlos SantosA mathematical autopsy
Tony MannAlex Elmsley and the Hamming Code

Session 2d : 12:06 - 12:39

Joel HaddleyHow Many Pizzas?
James GrimeThe Building Houses Problem
Dominika VasilkovaCardioids in Coffee Cups
David SingmasterThe Problems of Abbot Albert, 13C
Colin BeveridgeMy current favourite number

More Detailed Abstracts

These are in the order talks were proposed, so you may need to use a search function to find the one you're looking for.

Checkboards, Euler, and non-crossing paths - Colin Wright

Constructions with Obstructions - Colin Wright

Everything Old is New Again, Again - Adam Atkinson

There are certain problems/stories/jokes which should be part of the shared cultural heritage of etc. etc. But if we all assume we all know these stories etc., people risk falling through the cracks. And that would never do. As a public service I shall just make sure that one of the stories that should be universally known is, at least among MathsJam attendees. 2 years ago: the right angle proof. This year, something equally vital. I only learned recently that our own Matt and Katie didn't know it, and can only blame myself.

2A: A clever horse - theory and applications - Christian Lawson-Perfect

In short, I taught a tiny horse to count.

Things to do with chains - Adam Atkinson

I went to a talk about chains in 1984. It was about a problem I've not run into since and might be of interest.

Pillow Problem 49 and a cube of cheese - Noel France

Factorising A Large Semiprime When The Person Who Supplied It Has Been A Bit Careless - Phil Ramsden

At Imperial, I run the First Year Mathematical Computation course. Each year, there's a coursework task on RSA ciphers, which involves using my public key to send messages, and making one of your own to receive them. If you can factorise my N, you get 100%, even if you get everything else wrong. But there's a catch: if I factorise yours, you pay a 5% penalty. I'm not a cryptanalyst or a number theorist, and I don't own a supercomputer. I have no more than a few minutes to spend attacking any one student's N. But I'm sneaky, and I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Just between ourselves, I'd like to share a few of them.

How Many Pizzas? - Joel Haddley

Monohedral disk tilings, like pizzas, come in many flavours. Some flavours allow for retilings with interesting combinatorial properties.

Binary numbers: a suggested improvement - Paul Taylor

TV Game Shows - michael fletcher

How does/should the banker make his offers in 'Deal or No Deal'?

More than one way to skin a cat - Alison Kiddle

I spend much of my time thinking about how students solve problems, and how to help them become better problem solvers. I will share a couple of problems and invite you to find at least one way to solve them. No cats will be harmed.

Three Compartment Modelling in Distribution of Drug - Ratnesh

For physicians renal diseases has been a cause of concern since a very long time.

MENACE - Matthew Scroggs

In 1961, Donald Michie build MENACE (the Machine Educable Noughts And Crosses Engine), a machine built from matchboxes and beads that was able to learn how to play noughts and crosses. In this talk I will explain how it is possible to make matchboxes learn and I will show off the copy of Michie's machine that I have built.

Mathematical Toddler Toys - Peter Rowlett

What is real? - Tarim

Real numbers lead to some interesting, and somewhat counter-intuitive, ideas. An attempt to show that real numbers may have less to do with reality than you thought.

Matt talks about a thing - Matt Parker

Matt Parker will talk about a thing he found on the 8 April 2016, which has the SHA-1 hash 475301fd3b5d2ba37ebb6be33f5376d7529a3f67

More effective strategies for experimenting - Martin Owen

How do we explore how to make the perfect piece of toast or pour the perfect pint of beer?

Some bit of interesting maths unearthed from somewhere - Liz

In a break from tradition I shall attempt to find an interesting bit of maths that has been dug up from somewhere that is not Egyptian. It's bound to prove that abstract maths has been interesting people since they needed to count the rocks they were banging together.

My current favourite number - Colin Beveridge

Going round in circles... - Kathy Cohen

Taking a familair sequence and applying modulo arithmetic produces interesting results.

Bills of Mortality - Martyn Parker

Wau - a constant more important than e or pi !!! - Derek Couzens

Alex Elmsley and the Hamming Code - Tony Mann

At around the same time as Richard Hamming was exploring his error-correcting codes, the mathematical magician Alex Elmsley came up with a similar idea in one of his mind-reading tricks.

Symmetric Oddities (and Eventies) - Donald Bell

Last year, I presented my 3-4-5 Triangle Symmetry Puzzle, where an ODD number of identical ASYMMETRIC pieces can make a SYMMETRICAL shape. Lots of people liked it.

Big data problems - Noel-Ann Bradshaw

The Puzzle Vault - Daniel Griller

Having spent the last few years searching for and attempting to solve hundreds, if not thousands, of mathematics problems, here I propose to share a few of the gems I have unearthed. These puzzles, in my opinion, represent the standard by which all other problems should be measured. Problem composition is an art form, and as such the presentation will double as a celebration of human creativity.

Moessner's magic - Sue de Pomerai

An interesting pattern in number theory - sadly no magic involved!

Spirolaterals, maybe with a bit of time travel - Gina Worth

Spirolaterals are nice little doodles which throw up some maths/patterns. As for time travel I wanted to show a little of what I read on it for my dissertation in 1998 and to find out if anyone has an update on it.

Let epsilon be 1 - Paul Walter

What happens if you don't believe in real numbers and still try to do calculus and how can you explain integration to 12-year olds.

Arithmetic for the (three-fingered) mathematician - Robert Low

We all learn to do arithmetic in base ten because that's the norm. Many of us learn to do arithmetic in base two because that's how computers do it. Fortunately, there's an alternative which is better than both, and that's what I want to talk about.

Lattice Labyrinth Tessellations - David Mitchell

Lattice labyrinths are a family of infinite families of highly symmetrical monohedral tesselations set out on the square lattice. The bewildering shapes of the polyomino tiles belie the elegant simplicity of their construction. I can generate an LL tessellation for most (sorry, Cantor, I mean "many") number pairs (d,m) where, for instance, d can be the day and m the month of your birthday or mathematics jamboree, while the study of number pairs can lead us into some fun "elementary" (they all say that, but it is) number theory employing the complex plane. As for polyiamonds, that's another story.

Singular Value Decomposition - Michael Borcherds

The story of how Singular Value Decomposition keeps popping up in problems I'm trying to solve

Lucky Numbers - Kathryn Taylor

A mathematical card trick from Moscow's Olympiads - Jorge Nuno Silva

A problem with an interesting story of its own gives rise to a nice mathematical card trick.

The Building Houses Problem - James Grime

My favourite problem I've learnt in the last couple of years.

Solomon Golomb - Alistair Bird

Dactylonomy in 7 ways - Tiago

For MathsJam 6, the 7th meeting of the mathematically inclined person, I intend to show another 500 year old magic trick in seven variants.


Eine kleine Mathmusick - Ben Sparks

Some music may happen

The pigeonhole principle - Phil Harvey

A card trick - and a look at some puzzles that are based on this principle.

World Maths Year & the need for more maths t-shirts - John Bibby

Did World Maths Year 2000 have any lasting impact? Can WMY2020 do better? I am floating ideas and going to try to make it happen. But how?



Numerical frieze patterns - Martin Whitworth

A simple rule generates grids of numbers with a frieze symmetry and an interesting geometrical connection.

The Problems of Abbot Albert, 13C - David Singmaster

something something black rat - Elizabeth A. Williams

I'm working on it. Eek.

Bricks, Plates, and Patterns - Will Kirkby

Code Club and a 'Number' poem - John Read

A brief introduction to the joys of running a Code Club at primary school level (assuming nobody has done this before at MathsJam?), seguing into a fairly daft poem in 72 (or possibly even 512) words.

Art and Mathematics: A tale of logic and creativity. - Callum Mulligan

i have recently worked on a couple of interactive art installations, I will be speaking about the mathematics involved and how this has and is to be applied in a gallery setting.

Guess Who missed a trick! (Turn and face the ternary) - Michael Gibson

Is yours bald? Do they have blue eyes? Do they have a spot on their neck? What do you mean you don't know?!

Name That Polynomial! - David Bedford

Zoe's thing talk - Zoe Griffiths

Really like to do something, but still thinking of something......will update this soon

APs of Perfect squares - Karen Hancock

Fractran - Nicholas Jackson

Fractran is a Turing-complete programming language devised by John Conway, in which programs consist of lists of rational numbers. I'll show some example programs, and try to explain how it works.

A schoolboy's surprise for Professor Tutte - Geoff Morley

Bill Tutte constructed the first 'blemish-free' perfect squared square but missed simpler ways based on what a schoolboy showed him on a blackboard years later.

Alice and Bob eat some pizza - Nicholas Korpelainen

Alice and Bob play a game: they cut a pizza into slices of various sizes, and alternatley choose slices according to a few simple rules. Who is able to eat more pizza?


Solving Quadratics In Your Head - Paul Carson

Using completing the square to find out lots of info about a quadratic equation - what is its minimum? Does it have solutions? What is its transformation? What are the solutions? Using these we can then just write down the solutions in seconds.

Mathematics of matrimony - Sam Headleand

I've recently got engaged and have figured out planning a wedding gives you loads of excuses to do maths. I'll show you a couple of ways how.

Nightingale's nightmare - Noel-Ann Bradshaw

Problems faced by Florence Nightingale when she created her graphs depicting mortality rates and why this is still relevant today.

Spreadsheet on my phone/Multiples of nine - Katie Steckles

I'd like to share some maths I did in a spreadsheet on my phone, while out and about, concerning multiples of nine.

Boomerangs - Jonathan Histed

Big O and little o, a tale of two Os - Andrew Macdonald

How can we classify the complexity of algorithms - declare some some (dis-similar) processes to be equivaliently expensive and others as strictly more or less costly to compute.

Cardioids in Coffee Cups - Dominika Vasilkova

I look at an interesting thing happening (quite literally) right under our noses.