Events 2011-12


Great Moments in College History, by Dr Piers Bursill-Hall

Wednesday, 19th October 2011, 6pm

In celebration of the college’s Quincentenary, we have invited Dr Piers Bursill-Hall to give a talk on “Great moments in college history”, with focus on the Johnian mathematician and magician John Dee.

John Dee (1527 – 1608) not only studied mathematics and many other subjects such as astronomy, alchemy, navigation and philosophy, but assembled the largest library in England, was advisor to Queen Elizabeth I., friend of Tycho Brahe and founding fellow of Trinity. Mysteries, secrets and horror stories surrounding Dee’s life make him one of the most intriguing Johnians in history.

The talk promises to be very entertaining and interesting to undergraduate and graduate students as well as fellows. You are welcome to join us in Hall after the talk.

The Mysterious Link between L-functions and Arithmetic, by Prof John Coates, FRS

Wednesday, 2nd November 2011, 6pm

Sadleirian Professor John Coates, Fellow of the Royal Society and former President of the London Mathematical Society will talk about mysterious connections in Number Theory: between L-functions (generalisations of the Riemann Zeta function) and arithmetic.

Please join us in Hall after the talk.

Are Complex Space and Complex Time any use to Real Fluids?, by Dr Stephen Cowley

Wednesday, 9th November 2011, 6pm

Dr Stephen Cowley will ask whether we really need complex space and complex time to model fluids. Please join us in Hall after the talk.

Good Will Hunting

Thursday, 17th November 2011, 9pm

Together with the St John’s Film Society, we present three-times Academy Award winning movie Good Will Hunting, starring Robin Williams, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

A janitor at MIT, Will Hunting has a gift for math and chemistry that can take him light-years beyond his blue-collar roots, but he doesn’t realize his potential and can’t even imagine leaving his childhood Boston South End neighborhood, his construction job, or his best friend. To complicate matters, several strangers enter the equation: a brilliant math professor who discovers, even envies, Will’s gifts, an empathetic shrink who identifies with Will’s blue-collar roots, and a beautiful, gifted pre-med student who shows him, for the first time in his life, the possibility of love. (IMDb)

Visit IMDb for the trailer and more details.

The Bomber Problem, by Prof Richard Weber

Wednesday, 30th November 2011, 6pm

The final talk before the Christmas Vacation will be given by Churchill Professor Richard Weber on ‘The Bomber Problem’, including some very recent discoveries. The talk should appeal to those who like applied probability, optimization and recreational mathematics.

The ‘Bomber Problem in Markov decision processes has many non-military applications, such as in investment and water reservoir management, but it is traditionally posed it in “plane language”: A bomber plane is flying towards a target where it will drop its bombs. On its way to the target, the bomber randomly encounters enemy fighter planes. It must defend itself by shooting these down, using its supply of air-to-air missiles. The more missiles that it uses for one encounter the more likely it is to survive that encounter, but then it has fewer missiles left for future encounters. The question arises “how should the missiles be used so as to maximize the probability that the bomber reaches its target?”. Surprisingly, there are some “obvious” 50 year old conjectures about the solution to this problem that have never been resolved.

You are welcome to join the Committee and our Speaker in Festive Hall after the talk.


Incidences, Intersections and Covers, by Prof Béla Bollobás, FRS

Tuesday, 31st January 2012, 7pm

Prof. Béla Bollobás will present some classical gems regarding incidences of points and lines, and intersections and covers of sets, with an emphasis will be on algebraic methods and including several recent results.

Béla Bollobás was born in Hungary and received two doctorates, under the supervisions of Paul Erdős and Frank Adams. His work covers many areas of mathematics, including functional analysis, combinatorics and graph theory. Prof. Bollobás is Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, Fellow of the Royal Society, holds the Jabie Hardin Chair at the University of Memphis and was awarded the Senior Whitehead Prize by the London Mathematical Society.

Problems for the Clairvoyant Demon, by Prof Geoffrey Grimmet

Wednesday, 22nd February 2012, 6pm

The clairvoyant demon can see into the infinite future. Does this help ‘it’ to perform mathematical tasks that are impossible with a finite time-horizon? Three such problems will be described, each involving infinite sequences of coin tosses.

Proofs from God’s Notebook, by Prof John Toland, FRS

Wednesday, 29th February 2012, 6pm

Professor John Toland has joined St John’s College last summer and is director of the Newton Institute. He will talk about a beatutiful and subtle result about polynomials, involving calculus and the Fundamental theorem of Algebra.

Behavioural Finance, by Mr Paul Craven

Tuesday, 8th May 2012, 6pm

Paul Craven is head of the EMEA institutional business at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, and member of The Magic Circle. This highly entertaining talk is a must-see for anybody thinking about a career in finance, or just interested in probability and game theory.

The talk will take place in the New Music Room, First Court, St John’s and refreshments will be served from 5:30pm in the JCR, Second Court.

Paul is an alumnus of St John’s, and will join us in Hall after the talk.


Adams Society Garden Party

Saturday, 16th June 2012, 6:15pm – 9pm

Our annual garden party is one of the highlights each year. Come to enjoy some nice snacks, Pimm’s and other drinks; Relax in the soothing music and summer sunshine, and have a friendly and intelligent chat with the fellows and fellow mathmos of the college. We will also play some croquet to add to the fun.