University of Leicester eBulletin

Applying Mathematics to Industry

October 2002
No 235

A recently established centre at the University of Leicester is gearing up to meet the needs of business and industry through a new outreach programme.

The University of Leicester Centre for Mathematical Modelling places mathematical modelling at the heart of modern technology and industrial processes, by developing simulation techniques and modelling principles that can be used in a wide range of applications.

This year the Leicester Centre for Mathematical Modelling (MMC) plans a concerted effort to meet the needs of industry and develop direct links between academic and industrial research.

Many mathematical modelling developments are already taken for granted in the modern office, such as the bezier spline techniques used in CAD software, or the optimisation software used for cost control and scheduling.  Modern 'digital cameras' use advanced computing methods for tasks from autofocus adjustment to image processing.

It also has its place in areas such as the investigation of volcanoes and road traffic management, as well as in medical research, where techniques, drugs and resources can be developed and trialled at a fraction of the cost of laboratory trials.

·         Biomedical teams use molecular simulations in the design of prostheses

·         Biochemists are learning how drug molecules work, from aspirin to more complicated compounds like HIV-inhibitors, using a 'virtual' test tube and simulating the behaviour of the chemical compound.

·         Medical scanners used to detect cancers rely on sophisticated mathematics to produce a 3D picture of tumours and other abnormalities in the body.

·         NASA’s 'smart probe' for breast cancer diagnosis makes use of neural networks and intelligent software with advanced physiologic sensors, as do projects run by MMC scientists helping to screen patients for kidney surgery and predicting the onset of epileptic seizures.

Professor Ben Leimkuhler, Director of the University of Leicester Centre for Mathematical Modelling, commented: “Finding good mathematical models, analysing their properties, and implementing them on a computer is what MMC research is all about. The MMC provides a knowledge-forum where chemists, biochemists and mathematicians from academia and industry can come together to fill in different pieces of the puzzle.

“Through its advanced computing capabilities – a sophisticated shared-memory Silicon Graphics supercomputer – the MMC has the resource to handle some very extensive numerical computations.”

NOTE TO EDITORS:   Further information is available from Professor Ben Leimkuhler, University of Leicester Centre for Mathematical Modelling, telephone +44 (0)116 252 3884, email BL12@mcs.le.ac.uk,  or from Dr Ruslan Davidchack, the Centre for Mathematical Modelling’s Industry Liaison Officer, telephone +44 (0)116 252 3884, email rld8@mcs.le.ac.uk

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