Posted: 24th February 2016

Clongowes Wood College SJ

The Poetry physics and applied maths classes welcomed Professor James Gleeson back to Clongowes for his second visit with this year’s mathematical modelling group. The boys have been working since October on the problems which the Professor set for them and he returned with great interest to see what kind of progress had been made on the three problems:

  • Build a useful mathematical model that could assist ‘searchers’ in planning a useful search for a lost plane feared to have crashed in open water such as the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Southern or Arctic Ocean while flying from point A to point B.
  • Lepidoptera is an order of insects that includes gypsy moths and butterflies. Some can cause widespread and costly damage by defoliating trees. Model a lepidoptera population to predict how the population will change over time.
  • In finance the term ‘technical analysis’ is used for methodologies that predict future stock prices based on historical data. However, the efficient market hypothesis states that stock market prices are essentially unpredictable. Which is correct? Any prediction method created must be properly tested and tests for robustness and generality of any models must be developed.

Professor Gleeson spent two hours working with the groups, listening to the boys’ ideas, encouraging fresh thinking, guiding the students in their search for their mathematical models and happily engaging in debate on technicalities of the work already completed. There is no absolutely right way to model any of these systems, so it is very much up to the boys’ own creativity and resourcefulness to develop their version of the best model.

Professor Gleeson’s presence, as always, proved inspirational for the students and he left the group enthused, challenged and buzzing with new and exciting ideas and with the promise that he would return once more before the group presents the models to members of the Applied Maths faculty in the University of Limerick.

We are as always deeply grateful to Professor Gleeson, a world leader in applied mathematics and mathematical modelling, for the time, effort and energy he invests in this project. 

Mr Stephen O’Hara

MORE PICTURES COURTESY OF MR DAVID NELSON

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