Maths with the masters

14th August 2014

News, Student news, Alumni news

A presentation by Wadham Emeritus Fellow Sir Roger Penrose was a highlight of a Maths Masterclass for talented European school students at Wadham.

  • Sir Roger Penrose demonstrates Penrose tiling

    Sir Roger Penrose demonstrates Penrose tiling at the Wadham Maths Masterclass.

  • Masterclass participants

    Masterclass participants gather with Sir Roger Penrose (centre front) and Professor Alexander Ritter (front right).

  • Sir Roger Penrose

The week-long residential class gives bright secondary school students, aged between 16 and 18, the opportunity to spend a week in Wadham College learning mathematics through a mixture of lectures and tutorials, and discovering what life as an Oxford student would be like.

This year the focus of the masterclass was Geometry, and Sir Roger Penrose described the mathematics behind his famous non repeating patterns, known as Penrose tiling, followed by a Q and A session with the eighteen students.

Alexander Ritter, Associate Professor (and the Roger Penrose Fellow and Tutor in Mathematics at Wadham), directed the course and carried out the majority of the teaching sessions in conjunction with tutors from PROMYS. "His research interests are symplectic topology, Fukaya categories and mirror symmetry.

He commented: “The students are exceptionally bright, enthusiastic and focused. Working in a group they particularly enjoyed solving together some of the more challenging problems I put before them. It is a pleasure to teach such promising young mathematicians.”

The program is linked with PROMYS, a well-established mathematics summer program catering for talented secondary school students which runs at Boston University each summer. Working with the University of Oxford and the Clay Institute, exceptional students are selected from all over Europe to attend the six-week PROMYS programme, and then to study at Wadham for a further week.

The chosen students were offered full scholarships covering both the Boston and Oxford parts of the programme, with travel costs and expenses in Boston covered by the Clay Mathematics Institute, while local costs in Oxford were covered by a generous donation from a Wadham alumnus.

PROMYS is a six-week summer program at Boston University designed to encourage strongly motivated high school students to explore in depth the creative world of mathematics in a supportive community of peers, counsellors, research mathematicians, and visiting scientists.

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