## Research Seminars in the School of Mathematical Sciences

The School of Mathematical Sciences host regular research seminars delivered by internal and external researchers on topics across mathematical sciences. Seminars take place on the Kevin Street campus and are open to all.

## Seminar 8/12/17: Trends in undergraduate students' basic mathematical skills on entry to third level education over the past two decades

Trends in undergraduate students' basic mathematical skills on entry to third level education over the past two decades

Fiona Faulkner

Dublin Institute of Technology

Friday 8 December 2017

1pm, KE3-008, 3rd floor, Main Building, DIT Kevin Street

Abstract:

In 1997 diagnostic testing was first implemented in the University of Limerick due to service mathematics lecturers' anxiety regarding Science and Technology students' mathematical competency levels. The test is a tool to identify those who are struggling with the basic mathematical concepts needed for third level education. An examination of over 8,000 students involved in the diagnostic testing in UL between 1998 and 2008 highlighted a steady decline in students' basic mathematical competency levels on entry to third level education. This data was also used to explore the role of prior mathematics achievement in predicting performance in third level mathematics (Faulkner et al 2010). Later examinations of the diagnostic test data, between 2003 and 2013, found that the proportion of students tested that are predicted to be at risk of failing their service mathematics end-of-semester examinations had continued to increased. Furthermore, when students' performance in secondary level mathematics was controlled, it was determined that the performance of beginning undergraduates in 2013 was statistically significantly below that of the performance of the beginning undergraduates recorded 10 years previously (Treacy and Faulkner 2015). This research also examines the declining standard in basic mathematics skills in light of curriculum changes in second level education (Treacy, Faulkner and Prendergast 2016).

## Seminar 27/10/17: Theoreticholesterol

Theoreticholesterol

Steven Watterson

University of Ulster

Friday 27 October 2017

1pm, Blue Room, 4th floor, Main Building, DIT Kevin Street

Abstract:

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally. The majority of cardiovascular disease can be attributed to atherosclerosis, a chronic condition akin to swelling in the artery wall that impedes blood flow either directly or by thrombosis after rupture. Atherosclerosis develops as a result of the interplay between blood flow dynamics, innate immune responses and cholesterol metabolism and many of the pharmaceutical industries blockbuster drugs of the last twenty years have targeted cholesterol metabolism, making this a field of significant commercial as well as clinical interest. Despite this, relatively little quantitative work has been done modelling cholesterol metabolism, atherosclerosis and their physiological regulation. I will describe work undertaken recently at the Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine modelling cholesterol metabolism and atherosclerosis. I will describe how we can learn from nature to better improve preventative treatments for cardiovascular disease and how we should be able to use computational approaches to create treatments that are tailored to an individual's genetics in the future.

## Seminar 31/03/17: Geometric aspects of fluid models with vorticity

Geometric aspects of fluid models with vorticity

Tony Lyons

Waterford Institute of Technology

Friday 31 March 2017

4pm, Room KE2-008, 2nd Floor, Main Building, DIT Kevin Street

Abstract:

In this talk we outline a derivation of a two-component system of nonlinear PDE modelling shallow water-waves with vorticity. In line with several other well known shallow water models with quadratic nonlinearities, such as the Camassa-Holm and Hunter-Saxton equations, we show how this may be interpreted as a geodesic flow on an appropriate diffeomorphism group. We then outline how this geometric interpretation may be used to show the well-posedness of the fluid model, and establish criteria for the existence of global solutions for the system.

## Seminar 6/10/17: Formation and Growth of the first Black Holes

Formation and Growth of the first Black Holes

John Regan

Dublin City University

Friday 6 October 2017

1pm, Blue Room, 4th floor, Main Building, DIT Kevin Street

Abstract:

The discovery of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) at high-z (z ≥ 6) is a direct challenge to our understanding of the formation of the structure at small scales in the Universe (first stars, galaxies and black holes). The first stars are expected to form in mini-haloes where a combination of gravity and gas chemistry result in the first runaway collapse. These first stars may be massive with characteristic masses in the region of 50 Msolar. However, the observations of SMBHs with masses of 1 billion solar masses shortly after when we expect the first stars to form is perplexing.

I will discuss possible solutions to this problem. In particular I will discuss forming unusually massive stars in the early Universe which could explain the high-z SMBHs and also importantly the growth requirements subsequently (from either PopIII stars or supermassive stars) – which will likely require periods of super-critical growth.

## Seminar 31/03/17: Breeding new methods for finding first order saddle points

Breeding new methods for finding first order saddle points

Carlos Argáez

University of Iceland

Friday 31 March 2017

3.30pm, Room KE2-008, 2nd Floor, Main Building, DIT Kevin Street

Abstract:

The minimum mode following method for finding first order saddle points on an energy surface is used, for example, in simulations of long time scale evolution of materials and surfaces of solids. Such simulations are increasingly being carried out in combination with computationally demanding electronic structure calculations of atomic interactions, so it is essential to reduce as much as possible the number of chemical-function evaluations needed to find the relevant saddle points. Several improvements to the method are discussed here. Among the new advantages of this method, minimization method is used here: the minimum mode is estimated using the Davidson method with a new coupling on the Hessian approximation. Significant savings in the number of function evaluations can be obtained by assuming the minimum mode is unchanged until the atomic displacement exceeds a threshold value. In total, with this new breed the number of function evaluations is reduced to less than a third with the improved method as compared with the best previously reported results.