Mathematicians get £millions to solve wireless comms conundrum

Two of the UK’s leading mathematicians have been awarded a £1.6 million grant to solve some longstanding number theory conundrums – with real world repercussions for wireless communications.

Professor Sanju Velani, Head of Pure Mathematics at the University of York and Professor Victor Beresnevich will be attempting to tackle three theories.

The theories were previously thought to be unrelated, but have recently been found to have “substantial links”.   

Over six years of study the professors will centre around the theory of Diophantine approximation – a branch of number theory that dates back to ancient Greeks and Chinese using the number pi to follow the position of the stars.

The theory of Diopantine approximation will be related to Littlewood’s Conjecture, the Duffin-Schaeffer Conjecture and the generalised Baker-Schmidt problem.  

The idea goes that the with the interlinking between the various mathematical problems, progress in one should mean progress in the other.

While to those who are less maths-inclined this may sound like some rather arcane boffinry, there are real world applications in the realm of electronic communications.

Apparently the theory already plays a strong role in wireless electronics, such as antenna design and signal processing.

Dipohantine approximation for example has been used to investigate the potential of multiple input and multiple output (MIMO) technologies – attracting attention in wireless communications for their high efficiency and reliability and used for ‘smart antenna’ applications.

The pair will get funding from the The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and will be hoping to attract top research to keep the UK at the forefront of the field of study.