On 7th December Yavneh College welcomed Dr James Grime to give a presentation and workshops to 150 pupils identified as being gifted at mathematics and/or computing. James is a mathematician with a personal passion for maths communication and the promotion of mathematics in schools and to the general public. He can be mostly found doing exactly that, either touring the world giving public talks, or on YouTube.
James has a PhD in mathematics and his academic interests include group theory (the mathematics of symmetry) and combinatorics (the mathematics of networks and solving problems with diagrams and pictures). James also has a keen interest in cryptography (the mathematics of codes and secret messages), probability (games, gambling and predicting the future) and number theory (the properties of numbers).
The presentation was fascinating giving a both history of codes and code breaking and a mathematical perspective. it was especially interesting to learn that there were break throughs in both writing and breaking codes as early as 900 AD. The presentation ended with a demonstration of how an enigma machine worked and how the team led by Alan Turing was able to break the code. This was made all the more special as James brought with him an authentic enigma machine.
During the rest of the day the pupils attended workshops in groups of 30, during the work shops they were able to have a go at code breaking and also ask James about his work as a mathematician, giving a very different perspective to just learning mathematics in the classroom.