# Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw Lecture by Professor Colva Roney-Dougal

Dates: | 19 October 2023 |
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Times: | 17:00 - 20:30 |

What is it: | Lecture |

Organiser: | Department of Mathematics |

How much: | Free |

Who is it for: | University staff, External researchers, Adults, Alumni, Current University students, General public |

Speaker: | Professor Colva Roney-Dougal |

Professor Colva Roney-Dougal is a mathematician specializing in group theory and computational algebra. She is a Professor of Pure Mathematics and the Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Computational Algebra at the University of St Andrews.

She completed her PhD at the University of London in 2001 under supervision of Peter Cameron and has co-authored a monograph on maximal subgroups of the low-dimensional finite classical groups (with John Bray and Derek Holt) in 2013. Professor Roney-Dougal is also known for her popularization of mathematics on BBC radio shows.

Abstract for the upcoming lecture: The million-dollar shuffle: symmetry and complexity.

In 1936, before actual computers even existed, future code-breaker (and University of Manchester academic) Alan Turing invented a theoretical machine which describes everything that a real computer can do. He then used his model machine to prove the startling result that not all mathematical problems have an algorithmic solution. Since then, mathematicians and computer scientists have managed to formalise what we mean when we say that a problem is easy or hard: we are measuring its complexity.

In 2000, a prize of a million dollars was announced for an answer to the famous question "Is P = NP?". We can think of this as asking: if the correct solution to a problem can easily be checked by computer, is there in fact a quick way for a computer to find the answer? We'll discuss what it might take to solve this problem and claim the prize.

Intriguingly, many difficult problems become easier if they have symmetries: finding the shortest route to deliver many parcels would be easy if all the houses were neatly arranged in a circle. We will end the lecture by exploring this connection.

Price: Free

### Speaker

Professor Colva Roney-Dougal

Role: Professor of Pure Mathematics

Organisation: University of St Andrews