Posted: 22nd November 2013

Clongowes physics students are once again involved in research projects with the University of Limerick and the science department was delighted to welcome Professor James Gleeson to launch this year’s Mathematical Modelling project on Friday 8th November…

The department has linked up with the Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry to develop mathematical models for three problems this year. Professor Gleeson, Chair of Industrial and Applied Maths visited the school to launch the first phase of the project and met for two hours with the students from Syntax and Poetry to outline this year’s problems and begin the data collection phase of the work. The students in groups of 4/5 were asked to select one of three problems to work on:

  1. Model airline overbooking systems to develop an optimum solution.
  2. Develop a model to establish predictability of popularity.
  3. Develop a model to optimise aircraft boarding and de-boarding.

These are real world problems that don’t appear to automatically lend themselves to mathematical analysis, and yet this is what the boys must engage with. The first phase of the project is where students decide what variables to analyse and then gather the appropriate data.

Professor Gleeson gave a wonderful presentation on mathematical modelling using the example of a model his own group developed for the South Western Health Board involving maximising the use of blood type O-Negative to explain the general methodology. He has promised to return in January to launch the second phase of the project which will involve the development of the actual mathematical models describing these systems. The third and final phase will be the testing of these models with possible re-evaluation and re-testing and then the students will complete a report and make a final presentation in the University of Limerick on the model which they develop.

For the duration of the project the boys will work with physics teacher, Mr Stephen O’Hara and Mr Patrick Gorman, Mathematics. This project is unique to Clongowes and is a fantastic opportunity for our students to get involved in real world applications and see how problems in science and industry can be dealt with using physics and mathematics.

The College is deeply grateful to Prof Gleeson for his dedication to this project and for the extraordinary time and effort he invests in it.

Mr Stephen O’Hara

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