RSS fellow is 'World's most interesting mathematician' winner

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

Dr Sophie Carr, an RSS member and founder of Bays Consulting, has been awarded the title of 'World's most interesting mathematician' by the organisers of this year's The Big Math-off, a fun online tournament which celebrates everything that is interesting about maths.

Running throughout July 2019, 16 mathematicians from across the world pitched their favourite maths against each other, with the result being determined by a public vote on the website.

In the group stages, Sophie pitched about the areas of maths that always make her smile, from her A levels (Bernoulli’s equation and why shower curtains stick to you) through to undergraduate (the Navier Stokes equations and why they are a Millennium problem ) and then her PhD and career (Bayes theorem, this time in the context of the Monty Hall problem with cakes and sweets).

Never expecting to get out of the group stages, Sophie had to quickly think of an idea for the semi-final and went for Simpson’s paradox using the context of working out which team should get the company bonus of ice lollies! Getting into the final was even more of a shock and with only 36 hours to write the pitch, Sophie went back to basics and talked about probability trees covering Bayes Theorem, false positives and the prosecutor’s fallacy. 

The final very close between Sophie and Sameer Shah, a teacher who works in New York. Two and half hours before the end of the competition, Sophie was 108 votes behind, but with an hour to go only five votes separated the two finalists. It wasn’t until the last 30 minutes that Sophie took the lead.

Sophie said: 'Taking part in the competition was daunting, but it turned out to be a lot of fun – every match taught me something new about maths, and one my favourite parts of the competition was becoming a sticker in a sticker book, which included shiny stickers! After a month of maths and 54 pitches, the competition has created a wonderful collection of maths stories that can be accessed by everyone. That’s a brilliant legacy.'

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