University of Nottingham: Celebrating Mathematics in Nottingham on 80th Enigma code cracking anniversary

From developing next generation quantum computers and investigating the mysteries of the universe to modelling Covid herd immunity, predicting cardiac risk and most recently revealing why cauliflowers grow in the shape they do, mathematics at the University of Nottingham is making an important contribution to many aspects of society.

Highlighting some of the achievements of the School of Mathematical Sciences is part of the celebrations for the 80th anniversary on the 9th July of the cracking of the Enigma Code by one of the UK’s most famous mathematicians, Alan Turing.

The celebrations are being led by the Protect Maths Campaign, which has been founded by the London Mathematical Society and is calling on Government for greater and sustained investment in mathematics research and teaching.

Mathematics is a British success story from Newton’s Principia Mathematica, to Ada Lovelace’s work on the first computer, through to the mathematicians of today such as Sir Roger Penrose, who was awarded a Nobel Prize in 2020 for his work on black holes in which pure mathematics plays an essential role, and Hannah Fry, whose maths videos have millions of views on YouTube.

It is estimated that mathematics adds more than £200bn to the UK economy, nearly 10% of our GDP, and it is one of the top three subjects for graduate earnings. Mathematics also underpins today’s most exciting and urgent technological developments, including artificial intelligence, driverless cars, the development of quantum computers, and superfast broadband, as well as the modelling the Covid-19 outbreak, underpinning national security and the finance sector, and the rollout of vaccinations.

Professor Paul Houston, Head of the School of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Nottingham said: “This anniversary is an ideal time to reflect on and celebrate our achievements in mathematics. We are very proud of the breadth of research that takes place, with projects ranging from those that help improve medical practices to helping lay the foundations for the supercomputers of the future. Just this week mathematics has been making headlines with a front page story in the journal Science on how cauliflowers grow into their unusual shape.

“The University of Nottingham has a proud tradition as a centre of excellence for both teaching and research in pure mathematics and we have an outstanding team delivering first class teaching and research to inspire new generations of mathematicians.”

One Nottingham student who went on to achieve outstanding success is Caucher Birkar who arrived in Nottingham as a refugee from Kurdistan to study mathematics and went on to gain a PhD. He was awarded the Fields Medal in 2019 for his achievements. He is now a Professor of pure Mathematics at Cambridge University and will be made an Honorary Professor at the University of Nottingham next month.

Professor Houston adds: “Caucher is a shining example of what can be achieved, and we are delighted to be making him an Honorary Professor at the University where he started his mathematics career.”

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