‘A girlfriend once said to me, “So, you spend the whole day thinking up exercises, and then you solve them yourself?” But that's not what mathematicians do with their lives. We are studying a reality. A mathematical reality, populated by numbers, spaces and symmetries.’
Mathematics is regarded by many as abstract, incomprehensible and difficult, a judgment that KdVI mathematician Jan Brandts is working hard to dispel.
Why is it so difficult to predict the weather? This is partly due to the limited precision of the measurements but also because, when modelling weather phenomena, use is made of complicated equations which cannot be solved exactly. The branch of science involved in trying to calculate such equations is called numerical mathematics. Since September 2007, Rob Stevenson has been head of the UvA research group that concentrates on this particular form of mathematics.
A computer network, a clogged motorway or a warehouse awaiting new stock, operational research expert Michel Mandjes doesn't see the difference: all three are queues, and at the KdVI Mandjes investigates how they might flow most efficiently. No more queues at the checkout?
In September 2018 Michel Mandjes gave a lecture for children in NEMO on the subject: 'How can I win a million?'
In March 2019 Han Peters gave a lecture for children in NEMO on the subject: 'Why are snail houses not square?'
Connection between graph theory and algebra deepened
PhD student Guus Regts from CWI Amsterdam investigated mathematical connections between graph theory and algebra. On 22 November 2013 he defended his PhD thesis Graph parameters and invariants of the orthogonal group at the University of Amsterdam. Promotor was prof. Lex Schrijver (CWI and KdVI, UvA). His research is closely related to the young field of graph limits, a research area in which researchers try to understand extremely large networks in a fundamental way.
On 27 September 2013, Paul Gruntjes (1981) was awarded his doctorate at the UvA. His doctoral research at the Korteweg-de Vries Institute for Mathematics (KdVI) involved developing new methods for quickly and accurately calculating the price of a financial option.
On 29 May 2015, Petr Dunin-Barkovskiy (1988) was awarded his doctorate at the University of Amsterdam. During his doctoral research at the Korteweg-de Vries Institute for Mathematics (KdvI) he conducted fundamental research on theoretical models of string theory.
Petr Dunin-Barkovskiy proved that there is an equivalence between topological recursion theory on the one hand, and Gromov-Witten theory on the other.
On 22 November 2016, Jacob de Zoete received his PhD from the University of Amsterdam. With his thesis ‘Combining Forensic Evidence’ de Zoete shows that mathematics and statistics don't need to be boring but can open doors to more sexy subject areas by showing the importance of mathematics in forensic research.