March 15, 2021
Okay enough messing around, this week we get into the Matrix. Okay not that matrix. The mathematical matrix. But this one is way more powerful than a dystopian future in which humanity is unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality. That’s piddly. Mathematical matrices are used in everywhere, from making computer games to quantum physics.
That’s Jane Breen ,Assistant Professor in Applied Maths in Ontario University in Canada. She loves modelling the complexity of networks in the real world with some very powerful and sometimes simple tools. Speaking of simple tools, before long, I start throw around lingo like Eigenvalues and Markov Chains like I know what I'm talking about. We find out how Google got so successful, a brief digression into how drugmakers know their drugs will work and before finishing off on how to control the spread of disease. And Ruby and Lily find themselves playing with a real-life application of a Markov Chain, a Game of Snakes and Ladders.
Jane Breen https://sites.google.com/view/breenj
A really good youtube channel for visualising what's going on in Matrices and All Of That. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZHQObOWTQDPD3MizzM2xVFitgF8hE_ab
February 9, 2021
This time on the function room, advertising algorithms start to annoy Ruby so I decided to find out a bit more. And who better to talk to than someone the New York Times described as one of the most valuable observers of Big Data. She is American mathematician, data scientist, and author of Weapons of Math Destruction and budding movie star, Cathy O’Neill.
January 18, 2021
This time on the Function Room. It's the little things. The really little things. As Ruby(5) and Lily(3) theorise about the computers a fairy might use, I talk to UCD's John Sheekey about Quantum Computers. I got thinking about it before Christmas when Chinese scientists announced another quantum computing breakthrough.
Those brand new heavies that may help humanity heal itself and even the planet but also could mean your money isn't as safe as it was online. Listen to me trying to fit enormous concepts inside my tiny brain, find out about Coding Theory and how a man in a Maths and Stats department in Dublin is trying to stay one step ahead of The Quantum Menace (my hyperbole) armed with pens, paper, markers, whiteboard in an office that doesn't have a window.
(news clips from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5MBAJJU9Hk )
December 29, 2020
A special Christmas episode recorded in an actual theatre. With actual people. Just sound technicians as events are still banned due to me being TOO FUNNY. This was a fun episode with fellow comedian and fellow former engineer Eleanor Tiernan.
It was recorded at the Catcast - a special podcast festival held in the Set Theatre Kilkenny (usually the Comedy Festival home) sponsored by a bit of government money to keep the industry - especially the sound and vision people ticking over.
We chatted about the usual topics of sizing an incinerator, the physics of an adult's jokes, the maths of a toddler's joke, Newton's Law of cooling (whether it's better to put the milk in the tea early or late) and how we both navigated lockdown using the Dunning Kruger effect.
November 21, 2020
This week we meet a man who loves maps, elections and naturally Eurovision. We dip our toe in the recent presidential election and find out how you can use maths to see if someone is really trying to steal an election. Not through mysterious bundles of mailed in ballots, but by packing and cracking, drawing funny looking amphibious electoral maps.
We hear why we need to Build That Wall in Ireland. (A beautiful colourful electoral wall. So that CNN's John King can feel at home when he visits his cousins.)
But all of that is mere fluffing before the substantive issue: Why Albania loves the Eurovision. WIth Adrian Kavanagh Lecturer in Geography at National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
November 6, 2020
My guest is Dr Eloise Stevance an astrophysicist working in Auckland, New Zealand. We’re talking at the same time but on different days of the week. Which is pretty cool.
We talk TikTok viral videos, bald headed football linesmen in Scotland being mistaken for a football and how a thing called machine learning is helping people like Eloise find out the answer to life the universe and everything.
And bonus info – what gender are stars?
Not bad for 40 minutes work.
October 23, 2020
You've probably heard it mentioned out of the corner of your ear. Mathematical Modelling. What does it look like, how does it work, where would you even start? And why is a Dublin mathematician modelling the results of electrical currents in human brains? (Donated, don't worry)
With Aine Byrne @ainebyrnemaths, Assistant Professor at the Department of Maths and Statistics in UCD and (briefly at the start) 5 year old Ruby with her own model of how the brain works.
And me, hoping to learn from both.
Comments, suggestions, criticism -take it handy though- to @colmoregan @functionroompod on twitter.
September 10, 2020
You know that feeling. You look and there are only a few. You turn around and then it's a hundred and then a million. It's growing so fast you can't even count. But it's perfectly natural. It's Exponential Growth. And author of the Maths of Life and Death Kit Yates knows all about its awesome power. We chat about viruses, going viral, pyramids schemes and naturally locusts.