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20-12-2018 | © Magdalen College Oxford Old Library © Marsilio Editori in Venezia © Marina Goldring 4 mins read

On the trail of the first printed books, the beginning of the knowledge economy

Until the middle of the 15th century, books were copied by hand. After the printing of the Gutenberg Bible, in Mainz, printed books started to circulate in Europe marking the start of a new era. But what do we know about the first modern books? What were they about? Who wrote them, bought them, read them? Prof. Cristina Dondi is chasing these answers, following the breadcrumbs left by these incredible volumes.

03-10-2018 | © picture 2 mins read

Small, but cooperative: the future of spacecraft systems

Will spacecraft follow a similar evolution to computers? While information processing in the last century was performed by large mainframe computers, today, networked smart phones dominate the market. In spacecraft engineering a similar paradigm shift is apparent: from traditional single, large, and multifunctional satellites towards groups of very small satellites that cooperate together. Professor Klaus Schilling, in his ERC project “NetSat”, addresses crucial challenges to enable small satellite formations to self-organise. This offers innovative application perspectives in areas like Earth observation, science exploration or telecommunications.

08-08-2018 | © istockphotos 2 mins read

Classifying von Neumann algebras

Group theory, functional analysis and ergodic theory – three distinct areas of mathematics that meet within the theory of von Neumann algebras. The RIGIDITY project, funded by the ERC, aims to classify families of von Neumann algebras.

06-08-2018 | © picture 2 mins read

New tools to understand the large-scale behaviour of complex systems

Understanding complex structures means separating irrelevant information to get to something simpler and easier to understand. When you look at something from a distance – although you don’t see all the details, you can still describe what you see. ERC grantee Balázs Szegedy has developed several mathematical tools for providing a compressed yet useful view of complex structures.

03-08-2018 | © picture 2 mins read

Statistical inference for random functions and measures

How does one infer the dynamics of a DNA minicircle in solution? How does one align the neuronal firing patterns of several neurons across individuals? These questions are intrinsically statistical, but nevertheless escape the traditional tools of statistics. The ComplexData project investigated such questions from a mathematical and an applied context.

03-08-2018 | Rayleigh Taylor Instability ©DYCON 2 mins read

New approaches to controlling dynamics

Once limited to modelling physical problems in engineering, today Partial Differential Equations (PDEs) are used by a diverse array of fields, from natural resources to meteorology, aeronautics, oil and gas and biomedicine – to name only a few. But key mathematical issues remain unsolved, particularly when addressing their control, a must in technological transfer. The ERC-funded DYCON project aims to find answers.

02-08-2018 | ©HITS (Heidelberg Institut für Theoretische Studien) 2 mins read

Understanding the deformation spaces of geometric structures

Funded by the ERC, Prof. Anna Wienhard studies several new geometric forms that have been discovered over the past 20 years. These structures are closely related to the generalisation of Teichmüller space, which describes how the surface of a pretzel can be endowed with the geometry of an Escher painting.

01-08-2018 | © picture 2 mins read

Unravelling the mysteries of homogeneous dynamics

How do you study arithmetic objects like integer points using the theory of dynamical systems? The answer is homogenous dynamics, and this connection goes both ways. The GMODGAMMADYNAMICS project, funded by an ERC grant, took a broad approach towards studying this rich interplay.

30-07-2018 | © picture 2 mins read

Getting to grips with (slow) chaos

Chaotic systems are everywhere: the weather, molecules in a gas, the stock market. Small variations in initial conditions can lead to a drastically different time evolution, a phenomenon known as the butterfly effect. Systems can be classified according to how fast different, nearby initial conditions diverge in time. Supported by the ERC, Prof. Corinna Ulcigrai is investigating systems for which nearby initial conditions diverge slowly in time, to uncover mechanisms which explain their complex behaviour.

11-07-2018 | ©istockphotos 2 mins read

Mimicking nature to create new super materials

Nature is a major source of inspiration for scientists. ERC grantee Giulia Lanzara is one of them. The unique sensing and shaping abilities of birds, dolphins and other living creatures inspired her to engineer novel multifunctional materials which could make a difference in a wide variety of industrial fields.