International Centre For Mathematical Sciences 2018

Lead Research Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Department Name: S of Mathematical and Computer Sciences


Researchers in the mathematical sciences need conversations, information and encouragement or competition from others to be most effective. International research is undertaken in an international context, and it is vital to be aware of the latest ideas and techniques. For the past 25 years the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (ICMS) in Edinburgh has run focussed research workshops to meet this need. The topics for the workshops come from the research community itself, and proposals are assessed by peer review and an international Programme Committee. The main objective of this grant proposal is to fund each year for six years eighteen research workshops, associated knowledge exchange and public engagement activities and the administrative support necessary for successful meetings at ICMS. This provides researchers from all over the UK with the opportunity to meet together with a small group of international experts to make real progress in understanding a problem.
This funding will have two immediate impacts. First, it ensures a level of excellent activity at ICMS which makes it a prestigious venue for other research meetings. Thus the total activity at ICMS is significantly more than that funded by this grant. Indeed, over the last two years only 35% of participant days were funded by the current EPSRC grant. Thus the grant provides a critical contribution to the infrastructure of mathematical science research in the UK, providing an internationally recognised venue for high level research and ensuring that UK science is able to engage with its international counterparts. Second, the directly funded workshops themselves have impact. They showcase UK research and allow international researchers to develop new themes. Proposals are encouraged to have specific outcomes - ambitious goals for what might come out of the conversations and exchange of knowledge that arise during their programmes.
Six of the eighteen workshops each year will be 'strategic'. They will address new areas of the mathematical sciences, or new cross-disciplinary applications. Industrially focussed workshops also come under this heading, as do scoping meetings and workshops addressing UK science priorities signalled by the Research Councils. This provides a mechanism for the mathematical sciences research community to engage with these areas at an early stage. ICMS has a Knowledge Exchange Officer who ensures that all the workshops have opportunities to identify potential interest outside academia. Where such possibilities are identified ICMS arranges for special industrial sessions within the workshops and there is an extensive list of industrial contacts to help focus ideas.
The ICMS activity includes training for early career researchers, and we champion diversity at our meetings. Some of the dedicated Knowledge Exchange and Public Engagement meetings funded by the grant are training sessions to give ECRs an insight into how to engage outside academia. There are some 'ECR workshops' designed to give an early opportunity for researchers to develop as leaders in their field. The UK has a very poor record of gender balance in mathematical science researchers and ICMS strongly advises potential organisers on gender balance within their workshops and gives support for parents who need extra childcare because of attendance at ICMS events.
ICMS works with other institutes and organisations, most notably the Isaac Newton Institute in Cambridge, the learned societies of the mathematical sciences and the Research Councils, to ensure that the needs of UK mathematical sciences research are met efficiently and effectively effectively as recommended in a recent EPSRC Review. This proposal enhances the activity at ICMS and ensures the continued vitality of research in the UK.

Planned Impact

ICMS works with companies from the public and private sector to maximise the impact of the research. Recent participants include Toshiba, Siemens, National Grid, Thales, Dstl, Dyson, Public Health England, Mastercard, Rolls Royce, Zurich Insurance, NPL, Schlumberger, Microsoft, and Vodafone. We liaise closely with the Isaac Newton Institute and the Turing Gateway to Mathematics in Cambridge to ensure that activities are not duplicated and to deliver an efficient service to the mathematical science community and to end users of mathematics. ICMS employs a Knowledge Exchange Officer (KEO, 0.6FTE charged to this proposal) to provide advice and contacts for organisers of workshops. From 2018 we will be co-located in a new building with the Scottish Financial Risk Academy and informatics innovation centres such as Data Lab which will facilitate a new set of partnerships.
There are six principal types of benefit these companies can derive from their interactions with ICMS.
Direct engagement with the emerging mathematical science that underpins developments in their industry. Some of our workshops focus on the methodology behind important uses (e.g. New mathematics for a safer world: wave propagation in heterogeneous materials 2017), and participation at these workshops helps users scope future mathematical science influence on their practice.
Direct engagement with problems suggested by the industrial partner occurs at events such as the Modelling Camps. These also train early career researchers through the experience of working on industrial problems.
Community building though workshops with direct industrial focus. These workshops focus on directly relevant problems and include talks on current practice from industrial participants and potential developments from the mathematical scientists. As well as knowledge transfer, such meetings can create lasting connections between academics and users. These are fostered by the KEO after the meeting (e.g. Mathematics of Measurement, 2017).
Research Partnerships with Industry, which provide time and space for small groups of academics and industrial partners to work on a proof of concept or final report. These are designed to facilitate interactions between academics and non-academic partners to strengthen the outputs and maximise the impact of their interaction.
Knowledge transfer, which is embedded in our workshop programme planning. Workshop organisers work with the KEO to identify areas of broader industrial application and speakers with the industrial experience so that participants attend special industrial sessions to learn about application problems in particular areas (e.g. Trapped waves and wave radiation in fluid mechanics 2016).
Scoping sessions to feed in to larger UK initiatives to engage mathematical sciences with industrially relevant problems (e.g. Improving the data analytics process 2015, which was sponsored by the ATI).
Due to the broad scope of the workshops, companies from any industry could become involved with ICMS. This is reflected in the different industries represented by the companies mentioned above. To manage this breadth the services of the KEO are vital, and our practice echoes the Research Councils UK policy document Impact through knowledge exchange ( to ensure that we have maximum impact and maximum flexibility in engagement outside academia. There are two forms of dedicated KE meetings in the proposal (beyond the KE activity through the research programmes). The KE Community meetings ensure that the UK Knowledge Exchange community works together to provide the most effective and efficient mechanisms to engage with end users of the mathematical sciences. The industry/academia meetings will build on ideas in workshops to create further meetings to assess the potential of collaborations and provide avenues to develop ideas directly relevant to end users.


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Carlson M (2022) A note on abelian arithmetic BF-theory in Bulletin of the London Mathematical Society

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He Y (2022) Learning algebraic structures: Preliminary investigations in International Journal of Data Science in the Mathematical Sciences

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Cheong SW (2022) Linking emergent phenomena and broken symmetries through one-dimensional objects and their dot/cross products. in Reports on progress in physics. Physical Society (Great Britain)

Description ICMS stimulates and promotes the mathematical sciences through diverse international workshops & conferences. Our vibrant events programme attracts leading mathematical scientists from the UK and internationally - connecting mathematical communities across the world. As a response to COVID, we organised and hosted virtual events, alongside in-person ones.

In addition to workshops, ICMS manages a number of other mathematical activities, such as our very popular Research-in-Groups programme; an extensive knowledge exchange programme; public engagement; and by giving administrative support to a number of mathematical groups.

Our Principal Aims are:

To advance the mathematical sciences by fostering collaborations between researchers and disseminating their discoveries
To stimulate the impact of mathematical innovation on the world, promoting interactions with other disciplines, industry and commerce;
To contribute to the future of the mathematical sciences through the training and support for the next generation of mathematicians;
To promote an appreciation of the value, beauty and ubiquity of the mathematical sciences;
To build and connect international research communities, encouraging their diversity and dynamism.

Since the award of this grant, the ICMS has been supremely successful in this objective, hosting numerous workshop in all areas of mathematics, online seminar, knowledge exchange activity, and public engagement events. We are currently tracking the difference we are making in the work of participants and will have more detail to report at the commencement of the next funding cycle.
Exploitation Route The exchange of ideas taking place at the ICMS feed into the research of essentially all participants. A majority of the lectures are also recorded and form a rich repository of knowledge at the cutting edge of all areas of research in the mathematical sciences.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Energy,Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description The workshops hosted by the ICMS span the entire range of the mathematical sciences, which in turn impact all sectors of society having to do with finance, economy and technology. Specifically, there have been numerous knowledge exchange activities including the Virtual Forum for Knowledge Exchange in he Mathematical Sciences, modelling camps, and study groups with industry.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Energy,Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Cultural,Economic

Description Additional Funding for Mathematical Sciences : International Centre for Mathematical Sciences
Amount £5,050,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/V521905/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2020 
End 03/2025
Description Public Lectures and other Engagement activities in the Mathematical Sciences 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact ICMS ran 7 public lectures in 2021, on topics ranging from heat pumps to cosmology. These were mostly delivered purely online, but some were delivered both face-to-face and online. The lectures were followed by lively debates, often lasting longer than the lecture itself. ICMS also hosted a town hall meeting for the UK mathematical community to discuss the creation of a National Academy of Mathematical Sciences, and it hosted a short conference entitled `Black Heroes of Mathematics' to celebrate the inspirational contributions of black role models to the field of Mathematics and Mathematics Education. During Maths Week Scotland 2021, science communicators, Katie Steckles and Ben Sparks virtually joined secondary schools across the country for bespoke workshops run by the ICMS.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
Description Public engagement activities in the mathematical sciences. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of their activity in Edinburgh, many of our 15-20 workshops every year have associated Public Lectures. These are each attended by 80-100 people and make it possible for people in Edinburgh to appreciate achievements of modern mathematics. We also run ad hoc ICMS series, for example to mark our move into the new building. Every year ICMS supports Maths Week Scotland, and we have sponsored events at the Edinburgh International Science Festival. The current grant included an element of PE training, which had been intended to be part of the BAMC/BMC meeting in Glasgow 2020 and had to be postponed. ICMS are talking with Glasgow about an alternative online event. In 2018 and 2019 we partnered with INI/UK Maths Trust/IMA/KTN/OR Society to have a presence at New Scientist Live. For 2020 we had planned a public communication training event (PCTF) at the Bayes Centre, to be delivered by Katie Steckles and Ben Sparks. Participants were to be given the opportunity to practise skills at Maths Week Scotland, New Scientist Live and similar. We held this event online in September 2020.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019,2020