All posts by Jonathan Mattingly

About Jonathan Mattingly

I am applied mathematician and probabilist living in downtown Durham and working in the Duke Mathematics Department. I returned to my home state of North Carolina in 2003 after 15 years away. I am a graduate of Durham's NCSSM, Yale and Princeton.

Design of Space for Mathematical Sceinces

While there are some good features in the current mathematics building, there are many improvements needed to give the mathematics department, and the mathematical sciences in general, a  first class interaction space which would be part of the investment needed succeed in the quality of hires we envision and to maintain the strong group already built.

Among the primary desirable features are:

  1.     More interaction space : both more formal and informal.

  2.     informal encounter space with blackboards

  3.     More private collaborative space for small working groups and undergraduate help sessions.

  4.     Better seminar space of variable size both large and medium size.

  5.     A common room with an outdoor section (with outdoor blackboard). This small feature will have an effect on recruiting.

  1.     Graduate student offices around a shared interaction space.

  2.     Two undergraduate interaction areas: One for quiet study and one for more social group work.

  3.     Good lighting and open flow

  4.     Multi level sliding blackboards made of real slate, roughened glass, or ceramic on Steel.

Campus Location of Mathematics@Duke

There are a number of considerations which should inform the ideal placement and design of a space of  the Duke mathematics department and the mathematical sciences in general.

The Duke mathematics department is very engaged in collaborations across campus. The primary nexuses of collaboration are now and in the future:

  1. Structure of Data and Information: Computer Science, Statistics  and Electrical Engineering.

  2. Mathematical Biology, Genomics and Physiology: Biology, Bio-Medical engineering, Med-school, basic science.

  3.  String theory/Mathematical physics: Physics

  4. Nonlinear Science and Condensed Matter: Physics and Mechanical Engineering.

In many ways, the Duke mathematics department currently finds itself itself in a nearly ideal location.

  1.     Collocated with Physics. Near Biology, engineering and the basic science of the Medical School.

  2. Located centrally in the undergraduate campus. With its heavy undergraduate teaching, especially in the first and second year, it desirable to be close to its undergraduate teaching space to give a more integrated undergraduate experience.

  3. No further from the library’s collection in mathematical sciences which is currently houses in Bostock Library. The library has been incrementally moved further and further from the department.  A decade ago it was in the mathematics/physics building. The collection is still used heavily and increasing the distance would have an adverse effect

The principle deficiency in mathematics current location is principally its distance from computer science and statistics. We see these departments, along with electrical engineering, as central to one of the principle future directions of mathematics department.

Cambridge Centre of mathematical Sciences

Cambridge Centre of mathematical Sciences (also see) houses the departments of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Statistics, The Mathematical Sciences Library, and The Newton Institute. Many of the interaction spaces are successful, though the separate buildings still are a bit isolating. There is a large shared commons with a cafe, lounge and large lecture halls. Each building also has many smaller interaction spaces and smaller departmental lounges and lecture rooms.


Zeeman building : Warwick

The Zeeman building is the home of the Mathematics Department, the Statistics department, and the Center for Nonlinear Studies. The Zeeman building is the replacement for the original mathematics research centre at Warwick University which itself was a study in the form a mathematical sciences building should take. The building has many feature which should be emulated. One problem is the lack of good sound insolation between offices.

This is the main entryway building has a sunny airy region of undergraduate students to mix and interact.

The building also has a large coming room with many blackboards in the main space and large windows. The common room has the departmental mail boxes which encourages interaction. The common room also has a second story space which is used for more private spontaneous discussions.

Sprinkled through out the building are informal interaction spaces, usually with blackboards. Many of these are used for undergraduate recitation and help sessions.

The seminar room has large glass blackboards which slide with projector screens which only cover some of the  blackboards. The main seminar room also has a side gallery so people can sample a a talked and leave early with our being disruptive.

The Floor plans for the building which shows the large auditoriums and the many courtyards and casual workspaces can be found here : Floor Plans PDF

MSRI : Berkeley

The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) is and NSF and UC Berkeley funded research center above the Berkeley Campus .

The building is distinguished by a lot of natural light and spaces for casual interaction.

The main lecture hall at MSRI with the large sliding blackboards and state of the art AV equipment.

In addition to the large lecture hall there are smaller lecture rooms. In general there are many informal interaction spaces. A large tea area and many blackboards sprinkled throughout the building. It has a blackboard outside.