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Aiming high with maths

Press release issued: 1 November 2006

A new building costing more than £34 million is to be developed for the University of Bristol's Mathematics Department.

A new building costing more than £34 million is to be developed for the University of Bristol's Mathematics Department. Situated on the site of the Old Children’s Hospital, the building is due to be completed in 2010.

Professor Steve Wiggins, Head of the Maths Department, said: “Mathematics is playing a constantly increasing role in science, engineering, medicine, the arts, social sciences, business, and society in general. Completely new areas of study and new disciplines are being created that crucially rely on mathematics for their success. This is bringing a wealth of new opportunities for mathematics and a demand for mathematicians.”

He added: “It is a fantastic and unique time in history to study mathematics and to be a mathematician, and it’s even better to be doing these things at Bristol!”

Due to its success in attracting world-class staff and record student numbers over the past four years, the Mathematics Department has expanded beyond its ability to cope in its current building. Over the same period, the value of research contracts has increased from £3 million to £11 million. In addition, for the first time this year, the department attracted applications from more than 2,000 undergraduate students.

One of the reasons behind the recent success of maths is the way we can gather huge amounts of data which was undreamt of only 10 or 15 years ago. In the business world, for example, the massive amounts of data gathered by internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo can be used to predict human behaviour, which in turn informs businesses about our purchasing preferences and potential.

The world is moving into a new age of numbers. Partnerships between mathematicians and computer scientists are building a whole new domain of business. The mathematical modelling of humanity promises to be one of the great undertakings of the 21st century. It will grow in scope to include much of the physical world as mathematicians get their hands on new flows of data, from atmospheric sensors, to the feeds from millions of security cameras.

The objective of the new building will be to bring together all the mathematics staff and students that are currently accommodated in seven separate buildings. This will increase the potential for further improvement in the quality and quantity of research. One of the features of the building will be its public space for intellectual and social exchange, both within the department and with collaborators from other departments.

Located at the heart of the University, the new School of Mathematics will play a central role in the University’s ability to achieve its research goals in the coming years. Moreover, an internationally leading mathematics department will be at the centre of the University’s growing world wide influence, since maths is impacting on people’s day-to-day lives at an ever-increasing rate.

Further information

Please contact Cherry Lewis for further information.
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