The 35th Coulter McDowell Lecture was delivered by Dr Kitty Meeks from the Computer Science department of the University of Glasgow.
The Coulter McDowell Lecture is an annual event for which we invite a renown speaker to Royal Holloway to deliver a public lecture. These talks are enjoyed not only by our staff, students and alumni, but also by local school students and other members of the community. It is given in honour of the late Professor Coulter McDowell (former Head of Mathematics at Royal Holloway) and this event celebrates Professor McDowell’s achievements and contributions not only to Royal Holloway but also to the wider field of Mathematics.
Dr. Kitty Meeks began her talk with the problem of how to schedule meetings in such a way no two mortal-enemies end up in the same meeting. This problem is solved using tools the mathematical area of Graph Theory, and Dr. Meeks described how many problems arising in very different situations such as air pollution, disease propagation, or the health of coral reefs can all be approached using Graph Theory. She explained the limitations of trying to solve such problems using computers alone, and how one needs to be clever with the mathematics to solve them.
The talk was enjoyed by a large audience, and was especially useful for our students in our second-year Graphs and Optimisation course who study similar mathematics in it.