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Stephen B.G. O'BRIEN B.Sc., M.Sc., D.Phil. (Oxon)

Stephen O'Brien

Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry (MACSI)

MACSI was set up as a Science Foundation Ireland (Mathematics Initiative) funded project (of which I was the Principal Investigator) to establish a network of industrial applied mathematicians in Ireland, with the group at the University of Limerick at the hub. The grant awarded was the largest ever to mathematics in Ireland (Eur 5m) under SFI's mathematics initiative. The grant extended from 2006-2013. The MACSI group solves problems posed by collaborators from science, engineering and industry. In 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 we held study groups with industry (problem solving for industry workshops). There will another at UL from June 28-July 3 2015. In January 2013, I was lead applicant of a team grant of Eur 2.1m (+600k in overheads) awarded under the SFI Investigator Programme. This will be used to fund a range of activities in applied and industrial mathematical modelling. See also and Mathematical modelling article; answers to questions

European Consortium for Mathematics in Industry (ECMI)

The European Consortium for Mathematics in Industry (ECMI) is a consortium of academic institutions and industrial companies that acts co-operatively to promote and support the use of mathematical models in any activity of social or economic importance, to educate Industrial Mathematicians to meet the growing demand for such experts, to operate on a European scale. I was vice president from 2012-2013 and am currently serving as president (2014-1015). Dietmar Hoemberg is the current vice president and will become president in 2016. The ECMI BLOG is at

Applied mathematical modelling (MACSI)

The terms "industrial mathematics", "applied mathematics" and "mathematical modelling" are often used as near synonyms to make the distinction with pure mathematics whose central tenet is formal proof and which is not generally concerned with real problems arising outside of mathematics. An applied mathematician is a kind of lapsed pure mathematician in the sense that he/she would like to prove every result formally but is sometimes unable to do so and must make intuitive leaps in the search for understanding. Otherwise, for example, the flow of air over airplane wings would not be understood. In fact applied mathematical modelling does not specify a novel kind of mathematics, but rather a philosophy of asking how things work. Emphasis is placed on the application of mathematics in non-mathematical disciplines, e.g., in finance, economics, biology, physics, chemistry or industry (which can be considered a complex world in itself often embracing all of the above disciplines). A process or phenomenon occurs outside mathematics and mathematics is used to explain, to understand or to improve it. The emphasis then is not on the mathematics itself, but on the use of mathematics to understand a phenomenon in a non-mathematical world. Mathematical modellers perceive themselves as being scientists as well as mathematicians and are interested in other disciplines apart from mathematics. Without this philosophy, most modern technology would not exist: airplanes would not fly, man would not have reached the moon, there would be no radar imaging nor scientific weather forecasts. Modern mathematical models help to quantitatively explain how ultrasound works, how diseases spread, how bubbles move in a pint of stout, how quickly spilt fuel on an airport runway percolates through the underlying soil, how wet paint drips from a ceiling, how the prices of options change. There are even mathematical models for the dynamics of marriage!