Mathematics Colloquium

The Mathematics Colloquium is usually held in weeks 5 and 9 of term time at 4pm in Watson Lecture Room A. Information on forthcoming colloquia is given below.

Wednesday 19th March 2014, 4pm, LRA Reidun Twarock (York)

Viruses and geometry – a new perspective on virus assembly and anti-viral therapy


A large number of human, animal and plant viruses have protein containers that provide protection for their genomes. In many cases, these containers, called capsids, exhibit symmetry, and they can therefore be modelled using techniques from group, graph and tiling theory. It has previously been assumed that their formation from the constituent protein building blocks can be fully understood as a self-assembly process in which viral genomes are only passive passengers. Our mathematical approach, in concert with techniques from bioinformatics, biophysics and experiment, provides a new perspective: It shows that, by contrast, interactions between viral genome and capsid play vital cooperative roles in this process in the case of RNA viruses, enhancing assembly efficiency and fidelity. We use the graph theoretical concept of Hamiltonian path to quantify the resulting complexity reduction in the number of assembly pathways, and discuss implications of these insights for a novel form of anti-viral therapy. 

Previous Colloquia

Wednesday 12th February 2014 Leslie Ann Goldberg (Oxford) Spin Systems, Phase Transitions, Sampling and Approximation Algorithms
Wednesday 27th November 2013 Iain Gordon (Edinburgh) Wronskians, Galois Theory and Schubert Calculus
Wednesday 30th October 2013 Mike Gunn (Birmingham) Rotating ultra cold gases - fluid dynamics in the space of analytic functions
Wednesday 8th May 2013 Iain Styles (Birmingham) Inverse Problems in Optical Imaging: Sparsity, Compressed Sensing and Random Matrices
Wednesday 6th February 2013 Tomasz Luczak (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan) Critical phenomena in random discrete structures: a guided tour
Wednesday 21st November 2012 Peter Cameron (QMUL) Synchronisation
Wednesday 24th October 2012 Sanju Velani (York) Diophantine approximation: the Lebesgue and Hausdorff theories
Friday 8th June 2012 Benny Sudakov (UCLA) Induced matchings, arithmetic progressions and communication
Wednesday 7th March 2012 Rob Curtis (Birmingham) Groups and graphs
Wednesday 8th February 2012 Richard Pinch (Cheltenham) Solution of Diophantine equations
23rd November 2011 Simon Blackburn (Royal Holloway) What is the probability that a pair of elements in a group are conjugate?
20th October 2011 John Conway (Princeton) The quickest introduction to the Monster
23rd February 2011 Graham Brightwell (LSE) Random partial orders and models of space-time
19th January 2011 Terence Tao (UCLA) The Erdos distance problem and the ham sandwich theorem
1st December 2010 Ben Green (Cambridge) Approximate groups
3rd November 2010 Roger Heath-Brown (Oxford) Counting Solutions of Diophantine Equations 
18th March 2010 Simon Goodwin (Birmingham) Representation theory of semisimple Lie algebras and finite W-algebras
10th February 2010 Caroline Series (Warwick) From Basic Hyperbolic Geometry to Spaces of Kleinian Groups
25th November 2009 Tom Körner (Cambridge) Surnames, Pollen and Shares
28th October 2009 Anne Thomas (Oxford) Lattices for trees and polygonal complexes
11th March 2009 Imre Leader (Cambridge) Pursuit and Evasion
11th February 2009 Deryk Osthus (Birmingham) Hamilton cycles in graphs
26th November 2008 Alan Beardon (Cambridge) Groups, geometry and continued fractions
29th October 2008 Frances Kirwan (Oxford) Moduli spaces and quotients of algebraic varieties by group actions