Thursday, 24 September 2009

New Conferences and Money

The IMA website has a number of useful resources for mathematicians. One of the things that the IMA offers is the small grants scheme the purpose of which is to facilitate research activity in applied mathematics ( The scheme allows mathematicians to apply for small sums (up to £600) too support research activities (such as workshops conferences, talks, research etc.). You need to fill in a form and at least one of the applicants must be a member of the IMA. However if you are a strapped for cash mathematics researcher wanting a bit more funding for a specific Maths activity this might be worth checking out.

The IMA Younger 11th Younger Mathematicians Conference is up coming in November 2009 see for more information. There are a number of excellent speakers including
· Dr Nilgun Canakgoz, Lloyd's Franchise Performance
· Dr Jonathan Carter, Imperial College, London
· Dr William Parnell, Manchester University
· Zia Rahman, Careers Coordinator, More Maths Grads
· Makhan Singh, National Project Manager, More Maths Grads
· Dr David J Smith, Birmingham University
· Professor Peter Styring, Sheffield University: EPSRC Senior Media Fellow, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, Professor of Public Engagement
· Helen Thornewell, Surrey University
I do hope that many of you will attend.

I thought I would discuss some money saving tips as part of this blog. One of the problems with us mathematicians (OK not all of us but definitely some of us) is we become too involved with the problems we want to solve and do not think about things like finances.
In recent years I have been using the Money saving websites, (and there are many other sites out there). I have found these to be a godsend in helping to control household budgets and not overspend on things like
· Shopping
· Insurance
· Meals Out
· Electricity
The websites also very useful for dealing with credit card debt and provide useful information on mortgages and banking amongst others. I do recommend you look at these sites if you are not aware of them and try a few of the ideas presented in them. However one word of warning be careful and do not rush into anything too quickly (make sure you check all the facts and get all relevant information).

The following may also be of interest to those thinking about doing a degree but are concerned about the debt they may be in when leaving University. Over the last few years I have been undertaking a part time statistics course with the Open University (OU,, partially to keep up with my Continuing Professional Development (CPD-More on this in the next Blog). My, courses with the OU require me to spend approximately 9 hours per week (on top of my 37-hour working week) across 9 months of the year, and this can go up to 16 hours per week (for larger courses). It does not sound too appealing does it, and to be honest there have been times where I have felt the strain, but it really just requires determination (it take between 6-12 years to do a degree with the Open University assuming you do one course per year) and effort. Now I am not advocating the Open University as there are other internet sites (such as where you can learn, however if you are working and paying for your studies at the same this at least will reduce (if not completely obliterate) the amount of debt you are in by the end of the course. It will also show to potential employers that you are committed to your job, your professional development and that you have real world experience from your job. Distance learning may not be right for everyone but it is something you can consider.

My next Blog will focus on what I do for Continuing Professional Development and why it is important.

Please note that are all of the above are my own personal opinions and not necessarily the opinion of the’ Institute of Mathematics and its Applications’ or any other organisation I may have mentioned.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Musings on Mathematics

Here are some of my musing of the past few weeks.

A review of the 10th Younger Mathematicians Conference (held in Oxford May 2009) can be found here Have a read through as I think it might convince many of you to attend the next. Information on how to book up for the November 2009 Conference (to be held in Birmingham) is given here .

Finally, some sense in the world, the Mathematician Alan Turing gets a posthumous apology. However, it is a sad reminder of how not very long ago even laws were very bigoted. Read the full story here,

In March I attended the 16th Young Operational Research Conference which was held in Warwick, where I sat on the ‘Careers Panel ‘. One of the topics discussed was Chartership (and in the case of the OR Society Accreditation) and whether such professional qualifications were necessary. Whilst it does seem to be true, that few companies currently require professional qualifications. However, there are several good reasons why I believe professional status is a good thing to have on your CV:
· Shows a commitment to your own continuing professional development to the company you work for;
· Helps your company to show its customer that they employ professional who continue to maintain and develop their own skills;
· Helps show potential employers that you have wide range of skills and a commitment to your continued professional development.

For Mathematics and Operational research, it is also important because many other subjects (outside of these two) have had Chartership or professional status for years, which are completely understood and accepted by companies and help them when recruiting staff. We (in Maths and OR) are therefore lagging behind a bit and need to explain to our companies why Professional status is so important (and perhaps get them to pay for it).
I came across this the other day it looks to be a good source for science and Mathematics News

Please note that are all of the above are my own personal opinions and not necessarily the opinion of the’ Institute of Mathematics and its Applications’ or any other organisation I may have mentioned.