SEMS students' research paper accepted for presentation at undergraduate mathematics conference

23 January 2024

Tomorrow's Mathematicians Today conference logo
Tomorrow's Mathematicians Today conference logo

Two first year SEMS undergraduate students, Mr Barbaros Zeren and Mr Yash Vaghela, supervised by Dr Rehan Shah, have had their research project paper accepted for presentation at the Institute of Mathematics' (IMA) Tomorrow's Mathematicians Today (TMT) undergraduate mathematics conference, being hosted by the University of Greenwich.

Their project, catchily titled 'Sway and Play: The Mathematics of Playground Swinging', involves modelling a playground swing system as an elaborated pendulum to investigate the mechanism of the frequently adopted standing-squatting swing pumping strategy that is used to increase the amplitude of swinging, to help answer the fundamental research question 'How do children swing?'. Rather than using traditional Newtonian approaches to derive the principal equations of motion, they plan to make use of the more elegant Euler-Lagrange formulation to analyse the energy changes in each swinging cycle, in conjunction with utilising their learning of Python to produce numerical solutions and trajectory plots for the system.  Through their findings, they aim to demonstrate that this strategy does indeed produce a boost in the energy of the swing each cycle as a result of the rider’s repeated standing-squatting motion.  

Both students were selected to be part of Dr Shah's project, following a gruelling selection process undertaken by student members of the Queen Mary Centre for Undergraduate Research (QMCUR) overseen by Dr Giuseppe Viola. Both Dr Shah and Dr Viola were extremely proud to learn of the students' success and their motivation and enthusiasm in getting their abstract submitted, on the brink of their first semester exams.

The conference review panel noted that they "received a record number of high quality applications this year" and were "very much looking forward to hearing their presentation at the conference". In fact, theirs was the only project selected from QMUL, amidst high quality selections from a range of other prestigious universities. The students will present their work over the course of the two-day conference in March 2024 and will also be invited to a special reception hosted at the University of Greenwich a day earlier. They also hope to share their work at future conferences, QMCUR events and other platforms in due course.

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