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Mathematics at Work

The Mathematics at Work seminars introduce undergraduates to some of the fields in which mathematicians are working in industry and government. Each seminar combines some serious mathematics with an explanation of its place in the speaker's company's activities, and a description of the career path of the speaker. Speakers will provide material for further reading, leading in some cases to possible topics for Second Year essays.

Schedule of Seminars, Autumn 2023

Tuesday October 10th 3-4.00pm:
 James Palmer (Data Scientist) Lloyds Banking IN PERSON

Thursday October 12th 3-4.00pm: Amrita Dasgupta (Actuary) First Actuarial IN PERSON

Tuesday October 17th 3-4.00pm: David King (Consultant) IN PERSON

Wednesday October 18th 3-4.00pm: Peter Laflin (Head of Insight and analytics) Morrisons Supermarket ONLINE

Tuesday October 24th 2-3.00pm: Frankie Boateng (Actuary) AON IN PERSON

Thursday 26th October 2-3.00pm: Jamie Mullineaux (Quant Analyst) SuperBet IN PERSON

Tuesday 31st October 2-3.00pm: David Whitcombe (Analytics consultancy) Data Vision IN PERSON

Thursday Nov 2nd 3-4.00pm: Jake Beharal (Head of analytics) EON Energy markets IN PERSON

Tuesday November 7th 2-3.00pm: John Hammersley (VP Researcher) Digital Science IN PERSON

Schedule of Seminars, Autumn 2019

October 17th XPS PensionsLink opens in a new windowThe application of mathematics in actuarial science

October 24th, Stephen Haben (MMath Warwick), Energy Systems CatapultLink opens in a new window : Mathematics and Data Science in Energy Systems Applications

October 31st : Payal Jain, Women in Data UKLink opens in a new window Women in data

November 7th : Peter Laflin, Bloom AgencyLink opens in a new window Trading: both more and less mathematical than you thought it was

November 21st or 28th: Tessella Technology ConsultingLink opens in a new window


October 17th The application of mathematics in actuarial science


Actuaries are problem solvers and strategic thinkers who use highly valued mathematical skills and expertise on a day-to-day basis. Helen and Suzanne from XPS pensions are actuarial consultants in their Birmingham Office. They will outline what it is like to be an actuary, what skills they use and what it takes to get there. In particular Helen and Suzanne will explain what it means to be a consultant working in the field of pensions and what they are looking for when recruiting new graduates. The two applications of maths in their work that they will talk about are:

An example using application of the normal distribution to expected investment returns to derive a discount rate (which we can use as a task during the presentation).

Discussion of how we use population statistics to adjust standard mortality tables to be more pension scheme specific.

October 24th, Stephen Haben (MMath Warwick), Energy Systems CatapultLink opens in a new window : Mathematics and Data Science in Energy Systems Applications


After finishing my PhD in Data Assimilation joint with the Met Office in 2011, I spent the next 7 years applying mathematical and statistical approaches to applications in energy analytics. Specifically the problems were associated to using monitoring of local electricity networks and household smart meter data to try and facilitate the transition to a low carbon energy future. Last year I moved to the Energy Systems Catapult which aims to work across academia, industry and government and support innovations across the energy sector. The talk will present a range of applications which I have worked on over my career as well as many of the mathematical and statistical models and techniques I’ve used.

October 31st : Women in Data

November 7th : Trading: both more and less mathematical than you thought it was.


Janes Street is a proprietary quantitative trading firm with 1000 employees across offices in London, New York, Hong Kong and Amsterdam. Almost everyone has a quantitative degree; many of us are mathematicians. We care more about your ability to reason quantitatively and apply that to the world than any prior knowledge that you might have about trading (most of us never expected to be working for a trading firm). This is because our trading has mathematical models of financial markets at its core. Sometimes these models are complex; often they are quite simple, but even when the models are simple, our decision-making benefits from our mathematical sophistication and rigour. In this talk, we'll give a flavour of how we think about trading and what it's like to be a trader or researcher at Jane Street. We'll also talk about how and why we build all our own technology in-house using OCaml and why we have as many mathematicians working in our software development teams as on the trading floor.

Schedule of Seminars, Autumn 2018

October 11th, Tim Day-Pollard, Mott MacDonaldLink opens in a new window : Transport Modelling IN ROOM B.302

October 18th, Stephen Willows, National Air Traffic ServiceLink opens in a new window: Modelling and Analysis in the Aviation Industry

October 25th, Adam Fulkner and Shannen Smith, Nationwide Building SocietyLink opens in a new window: Financial Risk Modelling

November 1st, William Cullerne-Bown, Research FortnightLink opens in a new window: Entrepreneurial mathematics

November 8th, Georgios Papaioannou, Bank of America Merril LynchLink opens in a new window: Winning Forecasts

November 15th, Henry Newman, C&N Sporting RiskLink opens in a new window: t.b.a.

November 22nd, Ben Shipway, Met Office ResearchLink opens in a new window The Mathematics of Weather Forcasting and Climate Prediction

November 29th, Ellen Wootten and Sam Hodgkinson, Citrix SystemsLink opens in a new window: A Career in Software Engineering

Titles and Abstracts, Autumn 2018

Tim Day-Pollard, Transport Modelling

Autonomous vehicles. Electric Vehicles. Mobility as a service. Declining car ownership. Flexible working. After decades of modelling a future that was similar to the past, there is agreement that we are entering a season of change. But it’s much less clear what exactly the change will be, and what the error bars are on any conclusions we can draw. This is a major challenge for modellers, and will shape the way we build our cities for tomorrow. Waiting to see what happens is not an option

Stephen Willows, Modelling and Analysis in the Aviation Industry

National Air Traffic Service (NATS) Analytics apply a wide range analytical and modelling techniques to enhance capacity, improve efficiency, forecast demand and keep our skies safe.
I will touch on all of these, before giving some more detailed insight into how data analysis and discrete event simulations can be used to help enhance an airport’s capacity, making more flights available for customers like yourselves.

Personal Profile: Stephen Willows (Senior Research Analyst)

Having completed a BSc in Maths with Management Sciences, I undertook an MSc in Operational Research, developing a discrete event simulation for the NHS as part of my dissertation. Following this, I started my career at BAe Systems, providing modelling and analysis consultancy to a range of customers in the defence industry, before making the switch to NATS where I am a Senior Research Analyst in the Airports & Consultancy team. During my time at NATS I’ve undertaken a wide variety projects involving data analysis, programming and the development of new heuristic algorithms.

William Cullerne-Bown, Entrepreneurial mathematics

I started a company back in 1994, grew it to employ about 80 people and sold it earlier this year. During that time I had four different careers within the company –journalist, CEO, design and AI. My mathematics was useful in all of them and in talking through my story I hope to illustrate how maths can open doors to careers that aren’t obviously “mathematical”.

Georgios Papaioannou, Winning Forecasts

Georgios Papaioannou is an Engineer who has moved into Finance; his role requires him to apply maths logic to real life investment problems. He will walk the students through an interesting Machine Learning project recently worked on.

Ben Shipway, The mathematics of Weather Forecasting and Climate Prediction

As the UK's national meteorological agency, the Met Office's role is to provide advice to government, the public and the private sector in order to enhance prosperity, ensure well-being and safety. The Met Office Hadley Centre is world-renowned for climate monitoring and research. Science underpins all of these activities and numerical modelling of the atmosphere, the oceans and the wider earth system lies at the heart of it all.
This talk will cover a few examples of how mathematical modelling is used in weather and climate prediction and will touch on arguably the biggest challenge facing the underpinning science of the Met Office – taming future supercomputer architectures on which our modelling systems need to run. Long gone is the is the 'free lunch' of ever faster CPUs; we need to redesign our algorithms, systems and codes to exploit emerging hardware and novel programming paradigms.

Personal Profile: Having studied for an MSci and subsequently a PhD in the Mathematics department at Bristol University, moving to develop a career as a Scientist at the Met Office was a perfect fit for me. My focus has always been on mathematical and numerical modelling, but has subtly shifted over the years; initially developing models for moist convective clouds, to aerosol processes and cloud microphysics (making it rain!) and dynamical core development. I now head up a team developing the science for our next generation weather and climate model. This involves aspects of physics, fluid dynamics, computational science and numerical modelling, all underpinned by mathematics.


Ellen Wootten and Sam Hodgkinson, A career in software engineering

After graduating from Warwick with Maths degrees, we have both started our careers at Citrix as Software Engineers in the DevOps Automation Services team. As software engineers, writing software to aid with CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Development) across Citrix, we face challenges every day that mathematics underpins and helps to solve. Utilising ideas from statistics with data analysis and representation; lambda calculus and other formal logic in programming; and using our mathematics knowledge to achieve a better understanding of encryption - it is easy to see the wide scope of mathematical principles that are employed throughout developing high quality software systems. We will cover these ideas and explore the mathematical creativity that programming allows for.

Schedule of Seminars, Spring 2018

February 8th, 2018 Helene Hewitt, Met OfficeLink opens in a new window A career as a female climate scientist at the Met Office

Lecture captureLink opens in a new window of Helene's talk.

Abstracts, Spring 2018

Helene Hewitt A career as a female scientist at the Met Office

Beginning with a degree in Maths followed by a PhD in Oceanography, I have gone on to have a scientific career in the Met Office for the last twenty years. I currently lead the Met Office work on Ocean Modelling. My career has given me the opportunity to work on a range of problems from Equatorial mixing to the melting of Arctic sea ice using both observations and climate models. This talk will give some insight into the work of the Met Office as well as my scientific contributions, highlights and career development. I will discuss Athena Swan in the Met Office and reflect on my own experiences of gender equality in scientific careers.


Schedule of Seminars, Autumn 2017

October 26th 2017 Dominic Vipond, Warwick Manufacturing Group AcademyLink opens in a new window, Teaching Mathematics in Secondary Education

November 2nd 2017 George Dewhirst and Kevin Li, DeloitteLink opens in a new window The Mathematics of Economic Scenario Generators

November 9th 2017 Owen Daniel, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,Link opens in a new window A Plaice for Prisoners

November 16th 2017 Paul Cadman ZühlkeLink opens in a new window Mathematics and Software Engineering

November 23rd 2017 Nira Chamberlain Babcock International GroupLink opens in a new window Real world problems and the art of mathematical modelling

November 30th 2017 David King, Investment Consultant: Mathematics in the Investment Management Industry


Titles and Abstracts, Autumn 2017

Dominic Vipond Teaching Mathematics in Secondary Education

Maths education is going through a period of flux; the curriculum, the way students and schools are assessed, and the way maths needs to be taught are all changing. With this turbulence comes a need for educators to adapt. Teaching to the exam is becoming more difficult, and teaching for understanding is as difficult as it has always been. Yet through all this change, many things remain the same, students are still people, and the fundamental way in which people learn hasn’t changed. It’s certainly an exciting time to be a teacher.
In this workshop, we will talk about some of the changes happening in education, and what this means for teachers. We will see a few different techniques the can be used to facilitate the understanding of students. We will explore what maths is required of students, and teachers, at different stages of the new syllabi. The ideas surrounding teaching as a career will be explored, as well as some arguments for why we need good mathematicians to be good teachers. Most importantly, we will have the opportunity to actually do some maths.

George Dewhirst and Kevin Li The Mathematics of Economic Scenario Generators

An economic scenario generator is a Monte Carlo scenario modelling tool designed to meet the needs of insurance companies and other financial institutions, and contains several financial and statistical models to support stochastic modelling in a single integrated solution. Kevin and George are analysts in Deloitte’s Capital Markets Group and on a day to day basis are responsible for the research and development of Deloitte’s in-house Economic Scenario Generator XSG. They are both recent graduates in Mathematics, and George is an alumnus of Warwick University. You can expect to learn about the basics of Economic Scenario Generators, how university mathematics is applied in practice in the industry of Actuarial Consulting, and about Kevin and George’s recent research projects.

Owen Daniel A Plaice for Prisoners.

A talk in two halves.

Part 1. Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) are undertaking an ambitious project to redesign the prison estate. The Prison Estate Transformation Programme is focused at creating a modern prison estate, aiming to reduce overcrowding and create the right conditions for reform. As a part of this the government have pledged a budget of £1.3billion to build an additional 10,000 modern prison places by 2020.

In this talk we discuss how linear and non-linear optimization methods have been used to model prison estate configurations, and how these were combined with expert knowledge of the prison estate to determine the location of four new build prisons.

Part 2. In 2015, UK fishing vessels landed a total of 708,000 tonnes of fish, with a landing value of £775 million. But what if a skipper had decided to retire for the year a few days earlier? Or if a thousand of those landings had been sold for slightly more, or slightly less? Then what value of fish would have been landed?

Understanding and assessing uncertainty is an important part of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRAs) analysis of the UK’s fisheries economy. In this talk we introduce both classical and modern approaches to uncertainty quantification, and demonstrate that there is a time and place for modelling using pen and paper, rather than computers!

Paul Cadman Mathematics and Software Engineering

Software engineers aim to create efficient, problem solving systems that work reliably and can be easily maintained. The goal of this talk is to demonstrate that there are interesting ideas in software engineering that not only achieve those aims but will also appeal to people with a Mathematical background.

One such idea is the Curry–Howard correspondence. It describes a direct relationship between computer programs and Mathematical proofs. When expressed in a programming language this becomes a tool for verifying that a program is reliable.

In the talk I'll introduce this idea and give a practical example of its use. You won't need to know anything about programming or computer science to understand the talk.

Nira Chamberlain Real world problems and the art of mathematical modelling

In my humble opinion, mathematical modelling is the most creative side of applied mathematics. To me, mathematical modelling is about looking into the real world; translating it into mathematics, solving that mathematics and then applying that solution back into the real world. However, a secret of the trade is that every mathematical model will have its assumptions and limitations. A good mathematical model will have the right amount of transparent and challengeable assumptions, which coupled with an good mathematical approach provides the framework for potential insight into real world problems. In this talk we will discuss and show examples of the art of mathematical modelling in solving real world problems.

David King Mathematics in the Investment Management Industry

This talk aims to provide an introduction to some of the areas of mathematics used within the investment management industry. We will cover an overview of the industry and introduce some of the key concepts that underpin much of the work performed in analysing investment portfolios. Topics covered include risk analysis as well as portfolio management and optimisation. The use of multi-factor models for analysing risk and expected return will also be introduced. We will also provide some ideas about the kinds of skills and background that students considering a career in this area might find useful.


Titles and Abstracts Autumn 2016

Julian West Evolving encryption

Whenever communications data are sent across a network, there is a risk that they may be intercepted or tampered with. Rather than trying to protect the network, a more practical option is to protect the data by encrypting it. We will look at the evolution of communications methods through history and see how encryption technologies have grown up alongside communications technologies.

Charles Tallack Data, systems and lives

The NHS is one of the UK's proudest creations. It improves our health and well-being, and supports us to keep mentally and physically well and to get better when we are ill. In a typical week in England there are five million GP consultations, around 30,000 attendances at A&E, and 13,000 births.

The NHS is under enormous pressure as demand rises, patient needs change and funding is constrained. Charles's team is contributing to the transformation of the NHS by evaluating the impact of new models of care being piloted. They are modelling how the changes are supposed to work, and testing these models using advanced analytical techniques. Charles will talk abut the work of his team and other NHS England analysts to improve the NHS.

For people with an interest in applying analytical methods, the NHS provides a wealth of opportunities. There are complex systems to understand, model and improve, and data to analyse and draw insight from. Many NHS bodies employ mathematicians, including hospitals, science and research networks, and national bodies such as NHS England.

Graham Searle Positron Emission Tomography

Medical imaging has come a long way in the last 30 years. Plain X-rays remain useful, but computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance (MR) and positron emission tomography (PET) scanners have transformed our ability to see inside the living human body. Whilst CT scanners show the body's structure, PET (and certain types of MR) scans allow us to look at molecular biology and function. These capabilities are used in a limited way in hospitals, but the real power of quantitative PET imaging is in research and development. Research PET imaginguses sophisticated physics, engineering, chemistry and mathematics to acquire 3D movies that show the distribution and kinetics of radioactive molecules injected into patients or volunteers. Once the images are acquired and the subjects have 'cooled down', we move rapidly from pretty pictures to hard numbers. Efficient optimisation techniques align 3D images and automatically identify neuroanatomical structures. Mathematical models can then extract parameters of biological significance from the data, and answer questions such as "Do people with schizophrenia have more D2 receptors in their striata?" or "Does my new drug reduce the rate of beta-amyloid in patients with Alzheimer's Disease?" This talk will give a flavour of the breadth of applications for mathematics within medical imaging, especially PET, and will include some pretty pictures of brains.

Rob Bozeat Financial Derivatives

Financial derivatives are sophisticated risk management tools created by financial institutions to allow corporate clients, institutional investors and wealthy individuals to manage their exposure to a variety of financial risks. The largest markets for financial derivatives are in Foreign Exchange and Interest Rates, but more unusual asset classes, such as Commodities and even Weather, are also traded. Derivatives transfer the risk faced by the client to the bank. This raises two interesting questions. First, how do the banks price the risk they are taking, and second, how do they manage the risk to avoid financial disaster. These questions are not easy to answer. Changes in bank regulations also mean that banks face new charges when running derivatives businesses, and hence are constantly developing and refining models to correctly price the cost of risk management. This talks provides an introduction to the mathematics of finance. I will explain how banks view risk and how they develop models to price it.

Andrea Schiavi Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

Machine learning and artificial intelligence have been an integral part of computer science for many years, but recently their impact upon society has increased substantially. Sectors such as banking and law, historically some of the most resistant towards change and technological innovation, are now rushing to take advantage of the opportunities that automation and machine learning can bring. As machine learning approaches commercial and widespread use, the modern era of “big data” challenges existing techniques. Simply put, two linked problems, data sparsity and an ever increasing number of dimensions, put established approaches like linear regressions and nearest-neighbour methods to the test. Mathematics increasingly shines as the key enabling element in the quest for an efficient “thinking machine” and in overcoming a challenge that is commonly referred to as “the curse of dimensionality”. This talk will explore the fundamentals of machine learning. It will stress the role played by mathematical tools and concepts, and present examples of how Eigen Technologies is using them in commercial products. As a major player in the field of artificial intelligence, we are well aware of the role that our technology could play in changing society. The discussion will explore some of the key issues that we all face as a result of these changes.

Schedule of Seminars, Autumn 2015

October 22nd David Basterfield npowerLink opens in a new window Forecasting Energy Demand

November 5th Richard Pinch GCHQ Link opens in a new windowPost-modern Cryptography

November 12th Peter Laflin Bloom AgencyLink opens in a new window How marketing is changing Graph Theory

November 19th Warwick Alumni Evening

November 26th Ben Cox TessellaLink opens in a new window Numerical solutions of non-linear PDEs for the oil and gas industry

December 3rd Sarah Davis GE PowerLink opens in a new window Applications of Mathematics in Power Plant Design

December 10th Owen McCarthy and Amy Guyomard Frontier DevelopmentsLink opens in a new window Scream Ride

Titles and Abstracts, Autumn 2015

David Basterfield Forecasting Energy Demand

The energy industry is constantly evolving as we collectively seek to manage the energy trilemma: balancing the affordability, sustainability and security of energy supplies now and for future generations. The session will open by covering briefly the range of applications of mathematics in an energy supply business, from customer analytics to smart metering and energy trading amongst others. The main topic of discussion will be the application of mathematics to forecasting energy demand from consumers, domestic through to large business, and wind/solar generation. Forecasting demand is critical to ensure we understand the profitability of the business going forwards and to ensure we purchase the right amount of energy to meet customer needs. The financial consequences of getting it wrong are significant, hence we invest heavily in analytical capability, both people and IT systems. The session will close by introducing the npower Forecasting Challenge where small teams of students have the opportunity to try their hand at forecasting using real data for the chance to win a summer internship and £1000.

Richard Pinch Post-modern Cryptography

Traditional symmetric or secret key cryptography has historically been the province of government, diplomatic and military users with a requirement for confidentiality. More recently asymmetric or public key cryptography has been developed and taken up to meet the requirements of life in cyberspace. Businesses and private individuals are now using it, often unknowingly, to achieve authentication as well as confidentiality. New threats and opportunities are emerging with the advent of quantum technology. I will describe how cryptography is being used today and some of the challenges for the future.

Peter Laflin How Marketing is Changing Graph Theory

Graph Theory is put to good use in lots of very unexpected ways. For example, you would not be able to perform an Internet search without Graph Theory being used to understand which webpages are more important than others. Graph Theory is also used to help suggest the products you might buy whilst shopping online and it is now being used to help brands make their marketing campaigns be more successful.

In this seminar, Peter Laflin, Chief Data Scientist at Bloom Agency, will give a brief introduction to Graph Theory. As the world of marketing is changing, in the face of more data and a greater need to accurately measure the impact of marketing activities, the world of graph theory faces a challenge. Since the 1700’s, when Euler first posed a graph theoretic question, the node and edge set have remained fixed in the problems being studied. We now need to solve problems where the nodes and edge sets come and go over time which means we need to think differently about the maths we use to solve our problems. Peter will explain how the world of marketing is challenging the world of mathematics to change, to provide the tools needed to solve the commercial questions posed of businesses in the 21st century.

Bloom are successfully using this new mathematics for clients like SKY and ITV. Peter’s talk will feature case studies which will show how innovation in mathematics is delivering successful campaigns.


Ben Cox Numerical solutions of non-linear PDEs for the oil and gas industry

This talk takes a look at the huge role that mathematics plays within an international analytics, software and consulting services company. At Tessella, we often need to design innovative solutions to some very challenging problems in the science and engineering domains. This means that graduates with the right mix of mathematical rigour and insight are vital to our continued success and growth. This seminar will address why mathematicians are so important to Tessella, drawing upon a couple of case studies from our work for a major client within the energy sector. The examples highlight the use of Newton's method of numerical solution to solve a system of partial differential equations modelling fluid flow in oil and gas reservoirs. In this case, an understanding of this method - not to mention some key mathematical traits - was crucial in improving the performance of a benchmark reservoir simulator that is used to model a variety of oil recovery mechanisms.

Sarah Davis Applications of Mathematics In Power Plant Design

Market competition, long term increasing fuel costs and growing concerns about emissions are driving the requirement for more efficient and environmentally friendly power plants. The world is experiencing a “data explosion” due to the rapid advances in computer technology enabling the sensing, acquisition, storage and analysis of massive data-sets. This data can arise directly from physical sensors or from increasingly sophisticated computer models capturing the variations of complex phenomena. More data, in turn, requires the use of increasingly elaborate mathematical techniques for data analysis. This talk discusses a number of such techniques and how they are used today in power plant design.

Owen McCarthy and Amy Guyomard Scream Ride

Since the beginning of the computer games industry, mathematical techniques have been used to bring complex games to life. In everything from drawing a line on a pixel display to simulating physics in complex rigid-body collisions, game developers employ knowledge from many fields of mathematics: linear algebra, physics simulation, and numerical analysis to name a few. However, unlike in many other applications, we have to solve problems robustly in less than 1/30 of a second.
This talk covers an overview of the broad applications of mathematical techniques in modern computer games and how Frontier Developments used mathematics to bring the fully destructible world of ScreamRide to life.