I have always attempted to share my enthusiasm about mathematics with others, and strongly believe that the subject need not be impenetrable to outsiders. I also feel it’s important for mathematicians to remember how to write! As such, I occasionally try my hand at ‘pop maths’ articles or talks to the wider community. In particular, during the 07/08 academic year I participated in the University of Edinburgh Science Communication in Action scheme.


  • Primary School Workshops University of Edinburgh, February 2008 (students from Gilmerton Primary).
    Contributed to two one-hour sessions for P7 (11-12 years old) students offering a range of mathematical activities: probability games, building platonic solids; counting in binary.
  • Talk:Sharing secrets with Cryptography Royal High Secondary School, Edinburgh, February 2008.
    A brief (15 min) overview of the need for public key cryptography; a secret-sharing algorithm by mixing paints; and a potential one way function. Audience was a group of S5 students, as part of a session on pursuing mathematics at advanced higher level and beyond.
  • Talk and puzzle session: as part of Why Mathematics? at Meet the Mathematicians 2010, Royal Society of Edinburgh, April 2010.
  • Talk, Q&A: The Prisoner’s Dilemma, Cafe Sci @ Gordano School, Portishead, March 2011.
    A twenty minute introduction to game theory through the prisoner’s dilemma; followed (after tea and cakes) by about thirty minutes of questions from pupils on both the talk and life as a mathematician.
  • Joint Mathematics Meetings Exhibition of Mathematical Art Boston, US 4-7 January 2012.
  • Talk, Q&A: The Prisoner’s Dilemma Stem Cafe at Worle Community School, 2 May 2012.
    A reprise of the Gordano event.


  • Article:The Mathematics of Being Nice
    In iSquared magazine: Issue 1, Autumn 2007.
  • Article: The Limits of Computation (Cover story)
    In iSquared magazine: Issue 6, Winter 2008/9.
  • Mathematical Tourism
    I contributed to the short-lived SoSauce ‘Travel Geeks’ blog as ‘The Mathematical Tourist’, attempting to seek out connections with mathematics during my travels. Since SoSauce is now offline, I’m mirroring the posts here on Straylight; it’s my intention to continue this project as opportunities arise.

  • Various posts here on Modulo Error are deliberately pitched at a wider audience; these can be identified by the Popular Mathematics tag.

Mathematical Art

  • The Smoothness Spiral: Interactive web-applet (currently unavailable) exploring visualisation of smooth numbers. Rendering 101-smooth numbers included for exhibition at the Joint Mathematics Meetings 2012 in Boston, USA.
  • X < — > t: an ongoing series of experiments with `scanner’ photography and videography. Still frames included for exhibition at the Joint Mathematics Meetings 2014 in Baltimore, USA.
  • The Giant 4D Buckyball: I was involved with building the sculpture, produced two time-lapse videos of its (de)construction, ran an interactive session at the ASCUS art and science salon at TEDxUniversityofEdinburgh, and have written a series of blog posts discussing some of the mathematics involved.

For much, much more, I recommend the homepage of one of my Edinburgh flatmates, Haggis: surely Britain’s finest maths-blogging sheep!

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