Women In Mathematics At Cambridge

Posted on: 11/04/2019

Last week, myself and a number of other female and non-binary students visited the University of Cambridge for three days to be enriched by the city, the university and mathematics. The residential kicked off with a tour by students of one of Cambridge’s more tranquil colleges, Christ’s. We marvelled at the history of the college’s chapel and medieval Hall, where we rounded off the day with a three-course meal.

Day 2 started with an introduction to the mathematics course given by Dr David Skinner where we learned some mathematical facts; e.g. if you shuffle a pack of cards the same way 80,658,175,170,943,878,571,660, 636, 856, 403, 766, 975, 289, 505, 440, 883, 277, 824, 000, 000, 000, 000 times, it will always return back to its original order! This was followed by a tour of the famous Trinity College, attended by geniuses such as Newton, Darwin and Ramanujan. Again, we saw this college’s medieval hall and chapel, as well as Newton’s old room and the corridor in which it was said he calculated the speed of sound by timing how long it took for the echo of a clap to reach him.

After this we learnt about remarkable maths beyond the scope of our school curriculum, including braid groups and hamming code. We were then given a chance to explore the city of Cambridge, wherein my friends and I discovered the stunning King’s College and its breathtaking chapel.

On our final day, Dr Paul Fannon gave us, in my opinion, the most inspiring lecture on information theory, a method to measure information. He claimed philosophy and linguistics were both branches of mathematics, an idea that was engaging to all of us in the room.

Inspired, and more confident now about going into mathematics, we left Cambridge returning to places all over the country such as Somerset, Birmingham, Manchester, Hull and London.

By Samira Azimi (Year 12)