*(Patterns and combinations)*

*Ages 13-16*

**Patterns and Predictions**Colin Wright shows how spotting patterns can help in surprising ways, from designing a communication system like Morse Code to inventing new juggling tricks. But beware – patterns aren’t always as predictable as they seem.

**The Music Formula**Rob Eastaway and pianist Richard Harris use the maths of combinations to show why we won’t run out of new tunes any time soon – and the audience helps them invent a brand new tune as the show’s finale.

**Colin Wright - Software Specialist and Juggler**

**Rob Eastaway - Best Selling Maths Author**

**Richard Harris - Composer and Pianist**

**Colin:**

**What did you think of maths when you were at school?**I enjoyed maths at school, although there was never enough. Reading Martin Gardner's books, and others, kept me going.

**Which was your favourite bit of maths at school?**Problems without hand-holding. Here's a problem: solve it. I also enjoyed calculus.

**Is there any maths that you don't like?**Ring theory (at university) I found difficult.

**Has maths ever helped you get out of a difficult situation?**Yes. I was part of a management buyout, and being able to draw decision trees, calculate probabilities, perform stability analysis, and then use that to guide actions, was absolutely invaluable.

**Has maths ever helped you win anything?**A few times I've won spot prizes and quizzes because I could "do the math" - things like "How many sweets in the jar?" type of thing.

**What did you do at university?**Pure maths.

**What's your favourite number?**I don't have one. People often think mathematicians only think about numbers, but the stuff I do is about structures and patterns. If pressed I could mention some interesting numbers, like 1001, or 496, or 561, or 271441, but really I like things like the Peterson Graph, or the Moebius Strip, and things like that.

**What do you like to do APART from maths?**Juggle, unicycle, ballroom dance, read, and sail dinghies (although recently I haven't had much time for sailing.)

**If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?**Here in Cheshire is pretty good.

**If you could give one maths tip to a 15 year old, what would it be?**Play with equations and numbers and see what you can find. Be prepared to just try things, because equations and formulas can become your friends, and they will then help you solve problems.

**What was the most unusual place you ever gave a maths talk?**On the flight-deck of a 747, watching the Sun rise in the West as we caught up with the terminator (that's the line separating night from day, not the robot from the future).

**What's your favourite maths-related song?**"Finite Simple Group (of Order 2)" - very obscure, limited audience.

**Rob:**

**What did you think of maths when you were at school?**I liked it mainly because I was good at it. While at school I discovered mathematical puzzles, and I LOVED those.

**Which was your favourite bit of maths at school?**Probability. In those days we didn’t encounter probability until about Year 9. I immediately saw its connection with games, so to me it was play rather than work.

**Has maths ever helped you get out of a difficult situation?**An energy salesman tried to convince me that 5% off gas and 5% off electricity meant 10% off my energy bill. I gave him a maths lesson and he went away with his tail between his legs.

**Has maths ever helped you win anything?**I was playing ‘Play Your Cards Right’ in a pub with a jackpot of £200. I turned over an ‘Eight’ and for the next card the crowd were baying for me to say LOWER – but I card counted and realised the odds were slightly above 50-50 if I chose HIGHER instead. I was right and won the jackpot. It was 80% luck and 20% maths skill.

**What did you do at university?**Engineering Science, but I specialised in Operational Research, which is like applied puzzle solving.

**What’s your favourite number?**9376. If you square it and look at the last four digits you’ll discover why.

**What do you like APART from maths?**Playing sport (especially cricket, golf and table tennis), playing the piano, and playing games with my kids. And did I mention cricket?

**If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?**I’m half Australian and I love Sydney, but actually if I had to live somewhere full time it would have to be England, either London or Manchester.

**If you could give one maths tip to a 15 year old, what would it be?**Learn a technique called Zequals for doing estimations – if you don’t know what it is, Google it!

**What was the most unusual place you ever gave a maths talk?**Pentonville Prison. I gave a talk about probability to about 30 prisoners. They loved it.

**Richard:**

**What did you think of maths when you were at school?**Loved it. Seemed to turn into physics at A level though, at which point I loved it slightly less.

**Which was your favourite bit of maths at school?**Quadratic equations (really) and multiplying fractions.

**Is there any maths that you don’t like?**Never understood matrices.

**Has maths ever helped you get out of a difficult situation?**Yes, when I was snookered in the deciding game of the university pool championships final. I managed to hit the ball by working out the angles carefully.

**Has maths ever helped you win anything?**Sadly, I still lost the game.

**What did you do at university?**Music.

**What’s your favourite number?**Phi, or the golden ratio. Not strictly a number I suppose.

**What do you like APART from maths?**Films, sport, music, art, food and wine.

**If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?**Honestly love where I am.

**If you could give one maths tip to a 15 year old, what would it be?**The problem might be real, but fear is a choice.

**What was the most unusual place you ever gave a maths talk?**Just because it’s amazing - and personally for me still unusual - The Royal Institution.

**What’s your favourite maths-related song?**The entire ‘Times-table’ CD by John Kane that my four-year-old daughter listens to. It’s just brilliant.