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About the Mathematics Institute


Introduction

The Mathematics Institute was founded in 1965 by Professor Sir Christopher Zeeman, and since that time has gone from strength to strength. The results of the 2014 REF (Research Excellence Framework) exercise have now been published, and Warwick Statistics and the Warwick Mathematics Institute together have been ranked 3rd in the UK with more than 90% of our research activity assessed as either internationally excellent or world leading. Our research environment at Warwick is rated by REF 2014 as the very best in the UK for mathematical sciences (achieving the maximum possible score of 100% at 4*). The undergraduate mathematical courses at Warwick have one of the largest intakes in the UK and are noted for their breadth, their innovative approach, the high quality of the students and high standards. In many independent rankings of research, undergraduate or postgraduate teaching the Institute does exceptionally well; for example, our Masters and PhD programmes belong to the "excellence group" of the Europe-wide CHE Excellence 2010 rankings which go on to comment that the Mathematics Department at the University of Warwick is especially strong in research and internationally oriented in comparison to the rest of Europe.

Gibbet Hill
Gibbet Hill - 1971

The Department has recently enjoyed continued growth, which has included an expansion in the number of academic posts, and an increased investment in support staff and facilities. The University is committed to continuing support and improvement. In December 2003 the Department moved from the Gibbet Hill east site to the new £15M Zeeman Building on main campus (shared with Statistics). The rate of expansion is such that a £3M extension was opened in 2008 and further expansion is planned for the coming years.

Research 
Building extension
Extension - 1997

Initially the Department concentrated on analysis, algebra and topology. Strong groups were developed across what was seen as the mainstream of pure mathematics. In the mid/late-80s it was decided to also build up applied mathematics by broadening out from the established group in dynamical systems. Today pure mathematics continues to flourish and has added new areas of strength (including Number Theory and Discrete Mathematics) and the applied mathematics component is one of the strongest and most vibrant in the UK; the Department now covers a very broad range of the mathematical sciences. The Department enhances the research environment by investing a very significant proportion of its earned income into research activities.

The absence of barriers between pure and applied mathematics and the strong encouragement of links between them is a distinctive and crucial feature of our research culture. We believe that the cross fertilisation this enables produces a more creative and productive environment and opens up each area to the ideas and approaches of the other. The Department's vigorous research culture is manifested by the high level of activity including, over the past five years, more than 1,300 research seminars, five successful year-long symposia, and more than 120 workshops and meetings.


New Building
Zeeman Building - 2003

Mathematics Research Centre (MRC)

The MRC (current director Professor Keith Ball) plans and organises the visitors' programme. Run since 1965, the year-long research symposia attract mathematicians of international stature. Recent symposia include: Challenges in Scientific Computing (08/09, organiser A Stuart); Mathematics of Complexity Science and Systems Biology (09/10, organisers R MacKay and D Wild); Ergodic Theory and Dynamical Systems (10/11, organisers M Pollicott and S van Strien); Probability (11/12, organisers Neil O'Connell, Martin Hairer, Ben Hambly and Jon Warren); Number Theory (12/13; organisers Samir Siksek and john Cremona); and Statistical Mechanics and the Mathematics of Phase Transitions (13/14; organisers Roman Kotecky, Stefan Adams, Alan Sokal and Daniel Ueltschi).

Building

Zeeman Building 2012

 

Academic staff

Currently the total number of permanent academic staff is just over 68. A high proportion have senior appointments including more than 30 professors; the majority of the remainder are on the Associate Professor grade which combines Reader and Senior Lecturer. All staff benefit from the broad range of staff development activities provided by the University and the Department. There is a generous sabbatical scheme for paid research leave (1 term in 7) which is actively used to promote research. Staff are encouraged to apply for research fellowships and to take opportunities for unpaid leave. A research and development officer highlights grant opportunities and facilitates applications and management of grants.

Departmental policy stresses the provision of extra support for young staff. New recruits are integrated into the research environment of the department by allocation of a mentor, the University's appraisal system, a reduction of in the teaching load of probationary staff, and involvement in the running of the department's research activities (e.g. seminar series or co-organising a workshop, co-supervising MSc and PhD students). The Department minimises the administrative load and provides funds for start-up, travel and conferences. Our outstanding record for rapid promotion of young staff testifies to the quality of our support.

The Department has a steadily increasing number of postdoctoral fellows: PDRAs (those on research grants or attached to programmes such as the EU's Marie Curie programme) and PDRFs (those who have won longer term prestigious competitive awards which they hold in their own right)). There are currently nearly 50 such staff. PDRAs have a research supervisor and both PDRAs and PDRFs have a designated senior member of staff as a mentor. They significantly enhance our research productivity by following up research ideas and generating new ones. Career prospects are good; a significant majority of both PDRAs and PDRFs go on to similar or permanent jobs elsewhere.

Postgraduate


The postgraduate community (over 150, about 60% non-UK) includes over 90 Mathematics PhD students, many funded by the Department's EPSRC DTA grant or on research grants. We have a Centre for Doctoral Training, MASDOC, funded by the EPSRC (jointly with the Department of Statistics) which funds 10 PhD students per year in Applied Mathematics and Statistics. An increasing number of PhD students are attached to one of the other Warwick Doctoral Training Centres (Mathematics for Real-World Systems, Molecular Analytical Science Centre) which are co-supervised in another Department. Since September 2007, Warwick participates with 4 other universities (Bath, Bristol, Imperial, Oxford) in an EPSRC funded Mathematics Training Course Centre delivering 20 PhD-level Maths courses to students in all 5 universities and beyond. In addition, each year there are approximately 50 Financial Mathematics MSc students and approximately 10 Mathematics and MIR@W MSc students. Supporting our postgraduate students is considered to be a vital element in our research strategy.

Undergraduate

The Department currently has more than 900 undergraduate students on three and four year courses. The undergraduate curriculum is distinguished by the combination of flexibility (students can take a very broad range of options from across the University) with a mathematical curriculum that is both broad and deep. There are both three year (BSc) and four year (MMath) courses: the four year MMath course is designed to enable more able students to study mathematics to a higher level. The Department runs joint degrees with Philosophy, Economics and Business Studies and is a key contributor to the Discrete Mathematics degree (based in Computer Science), Mathematics and Physics degree (based in Physics) and the (M)MORSE degrees (based in Statistics).

All undergraduate programmes feature a set of core modules in each of the first two years, with the composition of the core being well-designed to provide coverage of essential basic material appropriate to the particular programme. In the final year of the BSc and the final two years of the MMath, students are able to choose from impressive lists of options in mathematics and mathematical subjects. Most of the undergraduate programmes are available in extended form, with an intercalated year taken immediately prior to the normal final year of study, which includes either an industrial placement or studies at a university abroad.

Performance at upper second class level is required for entry into the third year of the MMath. It is an extremely successful degree: on average 60-70 students stay on for the fourth year. There is strong connection to research activity through research-led courses and projects, and an attempt to match tutors to the students' potential research. The MMath is the main gateway into PhD studies for Warwick students.

The last QAA subject review (in 2000) of Mathematics and Statistics at Warwick praised the breadth of the curriculum, the innovative courses and teaching methods, the Departments investment to ease the transition from school to university, the teaching of transferable skills, the very low dropout rates, the high level of mathematical competence of our students, the excellent employment statistics, the quality of student support and guidance, the excellent departmental web resources, the influence of research on the undergraduate curriculum, the quality of the supervision system, and the provision of excellent learning resources, in particular in library and computing facilities. [QAA subject reviews have now ceased: Warwick University (as a whole) has since undergone two successful QAA Institutional Audits.]

Mathematical Interdisciplinary Research at Warwick (MIR@W)

MIR@W was created to stimulate mathematical research into scientific problems throughout the University and to provide postgraduate training across subject boundaries. It replaced, expanded and integrated the activities of the Nonlinear Systems Laboratory (NSL) and the Interdisciplinary Mathematics Research Programme. It involves 11 departments: Biological Sciences, Business School, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Education, Engineering, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology and Statistics. MIR@W activities have seeded many of the Departments now substantial interdisciplinary activities listed below, particularly in Mathematical Biology, Complexity Science and Computing. This role remains important. Starting in May 1997 MIR@W launched a series of half-day or whole-day interdisciplinary meetings called MIR@W days on themes in both traditional and new areas of application of mathematics. The MIR@W MSc and PhD students are jointly supervised by Mathematics and another of the participating departments. MIR@W also promotes industrial collaboration.

Discrete Mathematics and its Applications (DIMAP)

The Department, together with the Department of Computer Science and the Operations Research group in Warwick Business School, obtained substantial EPSRC Science and Innovation funding to establish a Centre for Discrete Mathematics and its Applications.

Systems Biology and other Math/Biology activities

Building on initiatives within Mathematics, the University has invested significantly to establish a Warwick Systems Biology centre. This is led by David Rand, seconded from Mathematics, and involves several other Department staff. The School of Life Sceinces and the Warwick Medical School (WMS) are the other main partners. The Centre has obtained significant funding from the EPSRC Life Sciences programme to run a Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) supporting approximately 50 PhD students over 5 years. In addition, broader Mathematical Biology activity continues within the Department, including joint appointments in Mathematical Epidemiology with the School of Life Sceinces.

Complexity Science

The Department has established a centre in the Zeeman Building for the study of Complexity Science in collaboration with the Department of Physics and others. An EPSRC funded DTC started taking PhD students in 2007.

Centre for Scientific Computing (CSC)

Following an initiative from Mathematics, the University invested over £2 million (with matching commitments from Departments) to create this multidisciplinary centre as a focal point for computation in science and engineering. In addition to providing HPC facilities it co-ordinates an interdisciplinary PhD programme.

Further Mathematics Centre (FMC)

For over 8 years the Department has been involved in providing Further Mathematics teaching in local schools, and now hosts the leading centre in a national network of government funded FMCs.

The Public Face of Science

The Department has a particularly distinguished record in the promotion and communication of mathematics to the general public. Both Christopher Zeeman and Ian Stewart have made extensive and outstandingly distinguished contributions and many other staff have been involved in substantial projects involving lectures, television programmes, films and books.

Management

The Head of Department is responsible for the management of the Department. He or she is assisted by a full-time Deputy, a Director of Undergraduate Studies and an administrator. The HoD is advised by a small Management Committee. The Staff Meeting meets termly to discuss a broad range of issues. A Promotions and Staff Development Committee advises the Chair on academic staff support, progress and promotions. Teaching strategy is handled by the Department Teaching Committee which also monitors implementation and regularly reviews the structure, content and quality of degree courses and the quality of all individual modules. There are also undergraduate and graduate staff-student liaison committees. Not only do these provide an important communication route but they also manage the monitoring of individual modules using student questionnaires.

Management of research groups is informal: each group contains one or more professors and other senior staff who provide leadership by example, in their mentoring role and in regular working seminars. However, the calibre of our staff is such that the Department encourages and expects all staff to play an active role in the advancement of research, and we regard this as a crucial aspect of staff development.

Library and Computing

The Mathematics has its own research library for staff and visitors which supplements the well-stocked University Library. All staff have networked computers on their desks, wired or wireless hotspot options for laptop connection, and access to facilities in the Centre for Scientific Computing and elsewhere.

Colin Sparrow
Last updated February 2016

Postal Address:
Mathematics Institute
Zeeman Building
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL – UK

Fax Line:
44 (0)24 7652 4182

Enquiries:
44 (0)24 7652 4661

Mathematics Research Centre

Poem for the BAMC/BMC 2002

The Sculpture

The new building

Histories of Mathematics & Statistics at Warwick (written for the opening of the new building, 2004)
Full version ((PDF Document) pdf 8.5 Mb)
No graphics ((PDF Document) pdf 0.5 Mb)

CHE Excellence Rankings