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Students Enjoy a Mathematics Masterclass

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Sixth Form AS and A level Mathematics students from the Girls’ Division and Boys’ Division enjoyed a lunchtime presentation on ‘Mathematics in the Digital Age’. The talk was given by Dr Terence Etchells, from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences at the Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). 

Dr Etchells opened with a fascinating review of the history of mathematical tools, touching briefly on early abacuses, Napier’s bones and slide rules before talking about calculators and today’s devices including smart phones and tablets. However, he also stressed that the most important mathematical tool of all is still the brain. 

A former Mathematics teacher and University Senior Lecturer, Dr Etchells now spends much of his time undertaking statistical analysis of supermarket data for Unilever, who are the parent company of many household brands. Much of Dr Etchells’ work is done using Excel spreadsheets and he explained how mathematics is used in unravelling patterns and shopping behaviour from vast amounts of data. Students were given further insights into how mathematics and statistics are practically applied in the workplace as Dr Etchells talked about his work in computer forensics and the interrogating of data found on the mobile phones of arrested criminals. He also explained about the LJMU’s Football Exchange, which provides intelligent football solutions to a variety of agencies through research, high quality education and applied enterprise solutions.

Miss Catherine Pealing, Enrichment Coordinator in the Girls’ Division, said: “It was a fascinating speech and the students really gained an understanding of how studying maths and statistics can open up some interesting career paths. It is always instructive to see the practical uses that an academic subject can be put to.”              

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Dr Etchells presented to A and AS level Mathematics students

Dr Etchells presented to A and AS level Mathematics students