Page 1




2015/16 Inside...

Hamilton Mathematics Institute - Pg 2 Corvil supports the School of Mathematics - Pg 3 New positions in the School - Pg 4


One-to-One with Mark Caslin - Pg 7


Welcome to the 2015-16 School of Mathematics newsletter. It is a pleasure to bring the latest news and developments in Mathematics at Trinity to our alumni and friends. Professor Sinéad Ryan Head of School

It has been another interesting and eventful year for the School which included a book launch for “Mathematics and the Making of Modern Ireland: Trinity College Dublin from Cromwell to the Celtic Tiger”, a meeting of the Irish Mathematical Society marking its 40th anniversary and a significant grant awarded to the Hamilton Mathematics Institute to support and grow its research and outreach activity. We are also delighted to welcome new staff and students to the School. Professor Andreea Nicoara took up the Accenture Associate Professorship, coming to Trinity from the University of Pennsylvania. In addition the School has been awarded two new lecturerships in the College’s flagship Ussher Assistant Professorship scheme. We will welcome mathematicians with expertise in Number Theory and Numerical Analysis in the coming year. As our staff numbers grow it is more important than ever to support their excellent research and build the

School’s international reputation. The success of our Hamilton Scholars programme is crucial and I’m delighted that our alumni and friends recognise and support this important initiative. In the next academic year we will welcome a new Hamilton Scholar and Fellow to the School. The School’s commitment to excellence in teaching continues to be recognised nationally and our Mathematics and Theoretical Physics degrees are in very high demand. Our taught Master’s degree in High-Performance Computing goes from strength to strength attracting students from around the world. This year’s outreach and public engagement programmes included a very popular masterclass in particle physics, the Walton Club for post primary students, as well as a number of public lectures. I hope that as Ireland’s recovery continues, government research policy will recognise the lasting economic and social benefit of fundamental research and its contribution to Ireland’s international reputation. I hope that you enjoy reading about our news and achievements from the past year as well as our future plans. My term as Head of School ends this year and Professor John Stalker will be taking over so I wish him all the best. As always, we are delighted to hear from our alumni and friends so do keep in touch. You can find recent news and events on our website

Newsletter 2015 2014 – 2016 2015

Hamilton Mathematics Institute The Hamilton Mathematics Institute (HMI) at Trinity College Dublin is delighted to announce that the Simons Foundation, based in the United States, has awarded the institute a grant to develop a Simons Distinguished Visiting Professor, Simons Visiting Scholar and a Simons Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme. The Simons Foundation’s mission is to advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences. The foundation exists to support discovery-driven scientific research, undertaken in pursuit of understanding the phenomena of our world. The HMI and the Trinity School of Mathematics are closely aligned and the institute is co-located within the School building. The HMI Director, Professor Samson Shatashvili holds the University Chair in Natural Philosophy (1847). The grant was awarded through the Simons Foundation’s programme of ‘Targeted Grants to Institutes’ to support centres of excellence in mathematics and physical sciences

by providing funding to establish scientific culture and strengthen contacts within the international scientific community. The Simons Foundation funds two to three institutions annually and the HMI joins an elite group of mathematical institutes that are supported in this way. Professor Samson Shatashvili, the HMI Director said: “This support from the Simons Foundation to the HMI will provide significant energy to the institute and allow us to extend

our national and international role by building on the many strengths that already exist and by stimulating and nurturing mathematics research with renewed vigour. This is the first time an Irish University has received institutional support from the Simons Foundation and it will enable the HMI to bring about a step-change in mathematical activity by giving mathematics a central role in Ireland’s scientific community; attract leading international mathematicians and theoretical physicists to Ireland; and create the conditions for greater collaboration and the exchange of ideas and expertise through our workshops, seminars and conferences.”

Professor Samson Shatashvili, Director of the Hamilton Mathematics Institute

Hamilton Scholars and Fellows The School of Mathematics is pleased to announce the creation of two positions, a Hamilton Postdoctoral Fellowship and Hamilton Scholarship in Pure Mathematics. The Hamilton Fellowship has been awarded to Dr Victoria Lebed following an international competition. This is a three year post combining research and teaching, commencing in September 2016. Dr Lebed is currently working as a postdoc at Jean Leray Mathematics Institute in Nantes, France. This

Dr Victoria Lebed


postdoctoral position has been created with generous support from an anonymous donor. The School is also in the process of awarding a Hamilton Scholarship in Pure Mathematics, to commence in 2016. The scholarship has been created with generous support from a Londonbased alumnus, Kieran Higgins (Class of 1995) and Corvil – a data analytics company founded by Trinity Mathematics alumni. The successful candidate will focus on several complex variables and algebraic geometry and will work directly with Professor Andreea Nicoara, the Accenture Associate Professor in Mathematics. The two new Hamilton appointments will further strengthen the research and teaching capacity of the School. The Hamilton Scholars and Fellows Programme is a philanthropic initiative that aims to attract and support the best Irish and international students to carry out research; strengthen the School’s capacity in teaching; and work at the frontier of mathematics and theoretical physics. Scholarships are

awarded to Ph.D. students and Postdoctoral fellows of outstanding talent from Ireland and internationally. The first Hamilton Ph.D. Scholarship was awarded to Argia Rubeo in 2014, with seed funding from Trinity’s Faculty of Engineering, Mathematics and Science, and the generous support of Trinity’s US alumni. If you are interested in finding out more about the Hamilton Fellows and Scholars programme or if you would like information on how to get involved as a supporter, please visit our website or Hamilton_Scholars.php or contact: Professor Sinéad Ryan, School of Mathematics, Trinity College Dublin 01-8961267 / Sinéad Pentony, Associate Director, Trinity Development and Alumni, Trinity College Dublin 01-8964564 /



Corvil supports the School of Mathematics Trinity College Dublin and Corvil, the network data analytics company for business in the Now™, developed a Summer Studentship Initiative in 2015 to provide undergraduates with first-hand mathematical experience. Corvil is also providing support for Trinity’s Hamilton Scholars programme. “We anticipate that advanced mathematical techniques will continue to grow in importance in the field of Network Data Analytics, and we are delighted to have this opportunity to support and collaborate with the Trinity School of Mathematics,” said Dr Fergal Toomey, Chief Scientist and co-founder of Corvil and Trinity graduate. Corvil was founded by Professor John Lewis and three Trinity alumni Dr Fergal Toomey, Ian Dowse and Dr Raymond Russell, who were students of Professor Lewis’ in Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and later in the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS) as post-graduate researchers and assistants.

Donal Byrne, CEO, Corvil; Dr Fergal Toomey, Chief Scientist and Co-Founder of Corvil; Ian Dowse co-Founder of Corvil; Professor Richard Timoney, TCD; Professor Sinéad Ryan, TCD

New Book outlines how Trinity Mathematicians Shaped Modern Ireland Trinity is famous for its association with Sir William Rowan Hamilton. His work in mechanics provided the foundations for quantum mechanics and his quaternions algebra now underpins modern space flight and allows computer graphics designers to create seamless, beautiful environments. However, many other mathematicians working and studying at Trinity through the centuries also made huge contributions that shifted the horizons within the field, including John Lighton Synge, who is credited with anticipating the discovery of a ‘black hole’. Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Dr Patrick Prendergast, Dr David Attis and Professor Sinéad Ryan (Head of School of Mathematics)

Trinity College Dublin welcomed Dr David Attis, Senior Director of academic research with the Education Advisory Board (EAB), to launch his new book Mathematics and the Making of Modern Ireland: Trinity College Dublin from

Cromwell to the Celtic Tiger. To mark Maths Week Ireland 2015, Dr Attis also gave a fascinating talk on ‘Ireland’s mathematical achievements and the central role played by Trinity College Dublin.’

The Head of School of Trinity’s School of Mathematics, Professor Sinéad Ryan, said: “Dr Attis’ book highlights the role that mathematics has played in developing modern Ireland. The curiosity-driven research of Hamilton and others now underpins modern technology and drives innovation.”


Newsletter 2015 2014 – 2016 2015

New positions in the School Two Ussher Assistant Accenture Associate Professorships Professor of Awarded Mathematics In late 2015 Trinity launched an international recruitment campaign for 40 new academic posts which includes two Ussher Assistant Professorships in Numerical Analysis and Number Theory and Cryptography for The School of Mathematics. The creation of these posts is part of Trinity’s strategy to recruit excellent academics in areas where Trinity has proven strengths. The positions are to be filled before the end of 2016 to support the delivery of the University’s Strategic Plan 2014-19. The Ussher Professorships are named after Archbishop James Ussher, who is often referred to as Trinity’s first scholar and who was pioneering and meticulous in his research. They are intended to honour his rigour as a scholar.

The School of Mathematics is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Andreea Nicoara as the Accenture Associate Professor of Mathematics, who recently joined the faculty. Professor Nicoara’s research interests include several complex variables, real and complex algebraic geometry and model theory. Professor Nicoara holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University and she joins the School of Mathematics from the Department of Mathematics in the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr Andreea Nicoara, Accenture Associate Professor of Mathematics

Female Trinity Researchers Honoured for Contribution to Science Eight of Trinity’s female researchers were honoured at a celebration of ‘Women in Science’, hosted by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins and Mrs Sabina Higgins, in Áras an Uachtaráin. The event celebrated the leading role that women play in scientific research and industry.

(l-r): Professors Arlene O’Neill, Cliona O’Farrelly, Sinéad Ryan (Head of School of Mathematics), Eileen Drew, Jane Stout, Siobhán Clarke and Anna Davies.


Speaking at the event, President Higgins said: “The contribution of women in science is all the more valuable as we work to locate science within a paradigm of sustainability. That is emphasised in the challenges set to us by issues such as climate change, global hunger and environmental degradation.”



Mathematics Fellow and Scholars Announced Congratulations to Dr Vladimir Dotsenko, who was elected to Fellowship in 2016, and to the Senior Freshman Mathematics student Samuel McKeown, who was elected to Scholarship. Dr Dotsenko is an Assistant Professor in the School of Mathematics. Previously, he was a research fellow at the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies and at the University of Luxembourg, and shorter visiting positions as professor at University Lyon 1, research fellow at the Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences (Cambridge) and at the Max-Planck Institute for Mathematics (Bonn).

Dr Vladimir Dotsenko

Secondary School Students Become Particle Physicists for a Day

Dr Dotsenko’s main research area is homotopical algebra. He introduced the concept of Gröbner bases for operads, which he, together with Griffin and Khoroshkin, utilised to prove results in operad theory, algebraic topology, and combinatorics. A definitive exposition of that work is presented in the book Algebraic Operads: An Algorithmic Companion which he completed jointly with Bremner and which has just been published. Trinity’s School of Mathematics recently opened its doors to secondary school students, offering them the opportunity to become particle physicists for a day. Particle physics is the study of the fundamental constituents of matter, combining theoretical calculations and experimental searches and discoveries to understand the nature of the universe from its earliest moments. The masterclass was part of a global initiative running in 42 countries, where students got to analyse real data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the European organisation for nuclear research in Geneva. The students at TCD’s masterclass analysed data from the ATLAS experiment related to decays of the Higgs boson into pairs of W bosons. In addition, a CERN-led video conference allowed them to combine data and discuss their findings with similar groups in Lund, Bratislava and Geneva performing the same exercise.

11th Annual William Rowan Hamilton Geometry and Topology Workshop The 11th annual William Rowan Hamilton Geometry and Topology Workshop was held in the Hamilton Mathematics Institute in August 2015. This is an annual directed workshop held at the Hamilton Mathematics Institute (HMI), Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. The workshop consists of a two-day mini-course followed by a three-day lecture series. The two-day mini-course aimed at junior researchers was presented by Martin Scharlemann (Santa Barbara) and David Gay (Georgia) on Bridging Classical Three and Four Manifold Theory to discuss recent advances in the field and propose future directions of study. The workshop is sponsored by Boston College, the Hamilton Mathematics Institute, the US National Science Foundation and the Science Foundation of Ireland as part of their commitment to fostering ties between the US scientific community and the European scientific community. 5

Newsletter 2015 2014 – 2016 2015

Trinity Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity The Maths and Physics societies at Trinity recently welcomed Fellow Emeritus, Professor Petros Florides, to give a fascinating talk on the centenary of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, which has been lauded as “probably the greatest discovery ever made.” The lecture was conducted on the 100th anniversary of the amazing work. Sinéad Ryan, Professor in Pure & Applied Mathematics at Trinity’s School of Mathematics said: “Einstein’s general theory of relativity is a triumph of modern physics and a powerful example of the importance and impact that basic research can have. Today, general relativity is a key component in GPS systems, without which they would quickly fail. Petros is internationally recognised for his work in the field and his lecture was a fascinating explanation of the theory and the physicist behind it.”

Professor Petros Florides, Fellow Emeritus, School of Mathematics

40th Anniversary of the Irish Mathematical Society This year the Irish Mathematical Society (IMS) celebrated the 40th anniversary of their annual meeting which first took place on 14 April 1976. To mark the occasion a celebratory conference was organised by Dr Vladamir Dotsenko and Dr Richard Timoney. Each year IMS runs its annual conference in September, both devoted to mathematical topics from current research to educational issues. The 2016 programme included a series of nine talks by Irish and international academics who included Dr David Conlon (Oxford), Professor Graham Ellis (NUIG), Professor Stephen Gardiner (UCD), Dr Derek Kitson (Lancaster), Dr Anca Mustata (UCC), Professor Andreea Nicoara (TCD), Dr Ann O’Shea (NUIM), Dr Rachel Quinlan (NUIG), and Professor Stuart White (Glasgow).

Secondary Students Showcase their Love for STEM at Trinity Walton Club Seventy-one Irish secondary school students (aged 13-15) showcased their prototype solutions to societal problems at a special exhibition and graduation ceremony in May 2016. The event marked of their Trinity Walton Club 100-week STEM education journey. The Club is part of a broad programme of activities supported by Bank of Ireland. Commenting on the Trinity Walton Club, Liam McLoughlin, Chief Executive Retail Ireland, Bank of Ireland, said: “Bank of Ireland and Trinity College have a long legacy of working together and we are delighted to support the Trinity Walton Club, an initiative which succeeds through STEM projects graduation ceremony the talent and enthusiasm of students and staff. Ireland’s continued achievement across science and technology can only be assured through support for programmes such as this and I commend everybody involved for their commitment and effort.” Named after the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Ernest Walton, the Trinity Walton Club provides a unique platform for students to connect with like-minded individuals and develop their passion for STEM. The overarching goal is to complement secondary level science and mathematics education, while supporting students to confidently take ownership of their learning and take it in new directions. Marian Woods, daughter of Ernest Walton, was also present on the day.




One-to-One with Mark Caslin shortest possible time. On exam day 9 of the 10 questions were repeats, so I answered those nine and left after 20 minutes. The 10th question still makes no sense to me today, it was about flies chasing each other in a square! What are your strongest memories of Trinity?

Mark Caslin (Class of 1984) Managing Director, Alder Capital

What are you doing with yourself these days? I am the majority shareholder and Managing Director of Alder Capital, a fund manager specialising in proven strategies in currency fund trading and in targeted risk equity strategies. Everything we do is thoroughly tested and I use the skills I acquired during my time in Trinity for the benefit of our institutional investors. What was your childhood or earliest ambition? On the news every day they would say the stock market was up or down and even as a young lad I thought that has to be inefficient; I’d love to apply some maths to it. When I was in 2nd year in secondary school my brother came home from Trinity talking about the entrance exhibitions exam which one could do in Mathematics. So he got me the last 10 years of past papers. For Dr Timoney’s subject we could not find anyone who could answer the questions, so I set myself the task of answering each one over the next three years. In time and after many late nights, I successfully answered them all, and then I started practicing writing them down in the

The friends I made, largely a group of lads from the High School. They roped me into the climbing club even though I was a hopeless rock climber and hated hill walking. They did convert me as I went on to be the Captain (but I’m still a hopeless rock climber) and later after Trinity to be the Chairman of the Irish Mountain Racing Association, and last but not least to fulfil an ambition started while at Trinity to set the Irish Munroes Record, which I set at 10 hours and 41 minutes in 1995. Getting the Schol was a bit of a shock as there were a lot of very hard-working students in the class who I assumed would perform a lot better than someone who did two weeks solid cramming. Which Trinity lecturer had the greatest impact on you?

Inter Cert examiners had spotted that solution. The next day he came into the class, handed me the chalk and sat down. Being a cheeky sod I went up and proved 1=0 using the divide by zero trick hidden in some variables, the bell went without the error being found. How do you like to spend your free time? Gardening is my favourite pastime, the older I get the more I realise how important it is for my mental health. Mountain racing used to be a big sport for me and I still run a lot, but haven’t done a mountain race for a long time. These days I devote a lot of time to my local soccer club and manage my son’s U12 team. I am a student of coaching methods and to put it mildly there is huge room for improvement here, current methods border on bullying, my conviction is that the motivation must come from the player and the coach’s job is to activate and support that. Are you still in touch with fellow alumni? Do you come back to visit Trinity often?

Professor Simms, I loved the subject and the enthusiastic style in which it was taught, it was infectious. Just as well too as it is extremely important in the financial markets to have a clear understanding of these issues. Dr Timothy Murphy’s subject was fascinating also.

I’m not in regular contact with fellow alumni, except that I do have another Trinity Scholar and also a Trinity Gold Medallist working with me at Alder Capital furthering our research. I have stayed in Ireland as I find Dublin an excellent location in terms of finding and retaining high quality graduates. Our IT staff have been sourced from Trinity also.

Where did your love of Mathematics come from?

What is the best advice that you have ever received?

I don’t know, I think it was the 11 times tables and the way the numbers went up in symmetry. Maybe it was an experience in third class in primary. One day the teacher came in and asked what would you get if you added up all the numbers from 1 to 100. I was way too lazy to add them up but I spotted that 1 plus 100 added to 101 as did 2 plus 99, there being 50 of these the answer must be 5050. The teacher ignored my answer at first but after all the silly guesses he came back to me. He said I had the luckiest guess, but I explained it wasn’t and he was a bit shocked.

That advice came from a student a year ahead of me in Trinity, he had just got a second class honour in the Schol exam, or failed in his own words. His advice was to make sure every evening when you went home you understand the concepts involved in that day’s lectures and to forget the details. He said you can cram the details close to the exam. He was right, it worked.

I had a similar experience in secondary school when our teacher gave us a long-winded proof of an Inter Cert question on geometry, I spotted a simpler proof and outlined it to him. He gave us all homework off as he said that none of the

What ambitions do you still have? To create a centre of excellence in Alder Capital, to build better products for institutional investors, there is still huge scope here because the market is driven by demand not quality. To create a better coaching environment for young players. To look after my wife, my daughter and my son.


GradLink Mentoring Programme

Mathematics Alumni in London

The School of Mathematics is starting a GradLink Mentoring Programme in October 2016. GradLink aims to develop current students’ knowledge of the labour market and career paths, through nurturing career learning relationships with alumni mentors working in a range of career areas. The GradLink Programme enables alumni to use their workplace knowledge and experience to help current students. For more information or to express an interest in volunteering please contact Catriona Kennedy

Trinity’s School of Mathematics hosted a table of alumni living in the London area at the TCD Association London and which took place in Drapers’ Hall. The guest speaker was Lord David Puttnam. To stay informed about London alumni activity please update your contact details online, (l-r): Sinéad Pentony TCD, Tim Owens (1988), Albert Fleming (1991), Brian Heffernan (1992), David Challen (1964), Professor Sinéad Ryan, TCD Head of School of Mathematics, Finlay Ross (1973), Emma Jenkins (1992) and David Moroney (1991)

Remember. The power of a legacy to Trinity Oregon Maple Library Square Planted early 1800s

Social Media @tcdalumni tcdalumni tcd alumni tcd alumni

There’s an old saying that the true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade one does not expect to sit. When you leave a legacy to Trinity however big or small, you’re planting a tree which will grow to provide shelter to many. You’re empowering ground-breaking research which will benefit people in Ireland and all over the world. You’re supporting students from all backgrounds to access a Trinity education. You’re helping preserve our unique campus and heritage for new generations.

When you remember Trinity in your will, you join a tradition of giving that stretches back over 400 years – and reaches far into the future. For more information about leaving a Legacy to Trinity, please contact Carmen Leon.

Get Involved

Upcoming Alumni Events

Trinity has a long tradition of outreach and community engagement. To find out about the numerous ways you can get involved with Trinity both at home and abroad, see

TCD Alumni Weekend 26-28 August 2016

T. +353 1 896 1379 E.

Christmas Commons 7 December 2016 Christmas Homecoming 22 December 2016

School of Mathematics Hamilton Building Trinity College Dublin Dublin 2, Ireland Phone Ph +353+353 (0)1 (0)1 8691949 896 1949 Email

School of Mathematics Newsletter 2015-16 Trinity College Dublin  
School of Mathematics Newsletter 2015-16 Trinity College Dublin