Mathematical Sciences at Oxford Stephen Drape
Who am I? Dr Stephen Drape Access and Schools Liaison Officer for Computer Science (Also a Departmental Lecturer) 8 years at Oxford (3 years Maths degree, 4 years Computer Science graduate, 1 year lecturer) 5 years as Secondary School Teacher Email: email@example.com
Four myths about Oxford There’s little chance of getting in It’s very expensive in Oxford College choice is very important You have to be very bright
Myth 1: Little chance of getting in • False! • Statistically: you have a 20–40% chance Admissions data for 2007 entry:
Myth 2: It’s very expensive • False! • Most colleges provide cheap accommodation for three years. • College libraries and dining halls also help you save money. • Increasingly, bursaries help students from poorer backgrounds. • Most colleges and departments are very close to the city centre – low transport costs!
Myth 3: College Choice Matters • False! • If the college you choose is unable to offer you a place because of space constraints, they will pass your application on to a second, computer-allocated college. • Application loads are intelligently redistributed in this way. • Lectures are given centrally by the department as are many classes for courses in later years.
Myth 3: College Choice Matters • However… • Choose a college that you like as you have to live and work there for 3 or 4 years • Look at accommodation & facilities offered. • Choose a college that has a tutor in your subject.
Myth 4: You have to be bright • True! • We find it takes special qualities to benefit from the kind of teaching we provide. • So we are looking for the very best in ability and motivation. • A typical offer is 3 A grades at A-Level
The University The University consists of: • Colleges • Departments/Faculties • Administration • Student Accommodation • Facilities such as libraries, sports grounds The University is distributed throughout the whole city
Departments vs Colleges • Departments are responsible for managing each courses by providing lectures, giving classes and setting exams • College can provide accommodation, food, facilities (e.g. libraries, sports grounds) but also gives tutorials and admits students
Teaching Teaching consists of a variety of activities: • Lectures: usually given by a department • Tutorials: usually given in a college (often 1 tutor with 2 students) • Classes: for more specialised subjects • Practicals: for many Science courses • Projects/Dissertations: for some courses
Colleges There are around 30 colleges in Oxford – some things to consider: • Check what courses each college offers • Accommodation • Location • Facilities You can submit an open application
Applications Process • Choose a course • Choose a college that offers that course • Your application goes to a college rather than the University as a whole since college admissions tutors decide who to admit. • You can choose a first choice college – second and third choices get allocated to you.
Interviews • Interviews take place over 2 or 3 days. • Candidates stay within college • Mostly candidates will have interviews at the first and second choice colleges • For some subjects, samples of written work or interview tests are needed
What do interviewers assess? • Motivation • Future potential • Problem solving skills • Independent thinking • Commitment to the subject
Common Interview Questions • Why choose Oxford? • Candidates often say “Reputation” or “It’s the best!” • Why do you want to study this subject? • Frequent response: “I enjoy it” • It’s important to say why the course is right for you – look at the information in the prospectus.
What tutors will consider • Academic record (previous and predicated grades) • School reference • UCAS statement (be careful what you say!) • Written work or entrance test (as appropriate) • Interview performance
Mathematical Science Subjects • Mathematics • Mathematics and Statistics • Computer Science • Mathematics and Computer Science All courses can be 3 or 4 years
Maths in other subjects For admissions, A-Level Maths is mentioned as a preparation for a number of courses: • Essential: Computer Science, Engineering Science, Engineering, Economics & Management (EEM), Materials, Economics & Management (MEM), Materials, Maths, Medicine, Physics • Desirable/Helpful: Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Economics & Management, Experimental Psychology, History and Economics, Law, Philosophy , Politics & Economics (PPE), Physiological Sciences, Psychology, Philosophy & Physiology (PPP)
Entrance Requirements • Essential: A-Level Mathematics • Recommended: Further Maths or a Science • Note it is not a requirement to have Further Maths for entry to Oxford • For Computer Science, Further Maths is perhaps more suitable than Computing or IT • Usual offer is AAA
First Year Maths Course • Algebra (Group Theory) • Linear Algebra (Vectors, Matrices) • Calculus • Analysis (Behaviour of functions) • Applied Maths (Dynamics, Probability) • Geometry
Subsequent Years • The first year consists of compulsory courses which act as a foundation to build on • The second year starts off with more compulsory courses • The reminder of the course consists of a variety of options which become more specialised • In the fourth year, students have to study 6 courses from a choice of 40
Mathematics and Statistics • The first year is the same as for the Mathematics course • In the second year, there are some compulsory units on probability and statistics • Options can be chosen from a wide range of Mathematics courses as well as specialised Statistics options • Requirement that around half the courses must be from Statistics options
Computer Science • Computer Science • Computer Science firmly based on Mathematics • Mathematics and Computer Science • Closer to a half/half split between CS and Maths • Computer Science is part of the Mathematical Science faculty because it has a strong emphasis on theory
Some of the first year CS courses Functional Programming Design and Analysis of Algorithms Imperative Programming Digital Hardware Calculus Linear Algebra Logic and Proof Discrete Maths
Subsequent Years • The second year is a combination of compulsory courses and options • Many courses have a practical component • Later years have a greater choice of courses • Third and Fourth year students have to complete a project
Compilers Programming Languages Computer Graphics Computer Architecture Intelligent Systems Machine Learning Lambda Calculus Computer Security Category Theory Computer Animation Linguistics Domain Theory Program Analysis Information Retrieval Bioinformatics Formal Verification Some Computer Science Options
Useful Sources of Information • Admissions: • http://www.admissions.ox.ac.uk/ • Mathematical Institute • http://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/ • Computing Laboratory: • http://www.comlab.ox.ac.uk/ • Colleges
What is Computer Science? It’s not just about learning new programming languages. It is about understanding why programs work, and how to design them. If you know how programs work then you can use a variety of languages. It is the study of the Mathematics behind lots of different computing concepts.
Simple Design Methodology • Try a simple version first • Produce some test cases • Prove it correct • Consider efficiency (time taken and space needed) • Make improvements (called refinements)
Fibonacci Numbers The first 10 Fibonacci numbers (from 1) are: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55 The Fibonacci numbers occurs in nature, for example: plant structures, population numbers. Named after Leonardo of Pisa who was nicked named “Fibonacci”
The rule for Fibonacci The next number in the sequence is worked out by adding the previous two terms. 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55 The next numbers are therefore 34 + 55 = 89 55 + 89 = 144
Using algebra To work out the nth Fibonacci number, which we’ll call fib(n), we have the rule: fib(n) = We also need base cases: fib(0) = 0 fib(1) = 1 This sequence is defined using previous terms of the sequence – it is an example of a recursive definition. fib(n – 1) + fib(n – 2)
Properties The sequence has a relationship with the Golden Ratio Fibonacci numbers have a variety of properties such as • fib(5n) is always a multiple of 5 • in fact, fib(a£b) is always a multiple of fib(a) and fib(b)
Writing a computer program Using a language called Haskell, we can write the following function: > fib(0) = 0 > fib(1) = 1 > fib(n) = fib(n-1) + fib(n-2) which looks very similar to our algebraic definition
Working out an example Suppose we want to find fib(5)
What’s happening? The program blindly follows the definition of fib, not remembering any of the other values. So, for (fib(3) + fib(2)) + fib(3) the calculation for fib(3) is worked out twice. The number of steps needed to work out fib(n) is proportional to n – it takes exponential time.
Refinements Why this program is so inefficient is because at each step we have two occurrences of fib (termed recursive calls). When working out the Fibonacci sequence, we should keep track of previous values of fib and make sure that we only have one occurrence of the function at each stage.
Writing the new definition We define > fibtwo(0) = (0,1) > fibtwo(n) = (b,a+b) > where (a,b) = fibtwo(n-1) > newfib(n) = fst(fibtwo(n)) The function fst means take the first number
Explanation The function fibtwo actually works out: fibtwo(n) = (fib(n), fib(n +1)) We have used a technique called tupling – which allows us to keep extra results at each stage of a calculation. This version is much more efficient that the previous one (it is linear time).
Algorithm Design When designing algorithms, we have to consider a number of things: Our algorithm should be efficient – that is, where possible, it should not take too long or use too much memory. We should look at ways of improving existing algorithms. We may have to try a number of different approaches and techniques. We should make sure that our algorithms are correct.
Finding the Highest Common Factor Example: Find the HCF of 308 and 1001. 1) Find the factors of both numbers: 308 – [1,2,4,7,11,14,22,28,44,77,154,308] 1001 – [1,7,11,13,77,91,143,1001] 2) Find those in common [1,7,11,77] 3) Find the highest Answer = 77
Creating an algorithm For our example, we had three steps: Find the factors Find those factors in common Find the highest factor in common These steps allow us to construct an algorithm.
Creating a program We are going to use a programming language called Haskell. Haskell is used throughout the course at Oxford. It is very powerful as it allows you write programs that look very similar to mathematical equations. You can easily prove properties about Haskell programs.
Step 1 We need produce a list of factors for a number n – call this list factor(n). A simple way is to check whether each number d between 1 and n is a factor of n. We do this by checking what the remainder is when we divide n by d. If the remainder is 0 then d is a factor of n. We are done when d=n. We create factor lists for both numbers.
Step 2 Now that we have our factor lists, which we will call f1 and f2, we create a list of common factors. We do this by looking at all the numbers in f1 to see if they are in f2. We there are no more numbers in f1 then we are done. Call this function: common(f1,f2).