Moyal Medallist 2011

Moyal Medallist 2011

Moyal Medal Professor Cheryl Praeger

The 2011 Moyal Medallist is Professor Cheryl Praeger, Winthrop Professor from the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Western Australia.

Title: “Symmetry, group actions, and the meaning of life”


Symmetry pervades all areas of life – nature, art, and science. In Biology, as Crick and Watson realised in 1956, viruses use symmetry to form their capsids from identical protein building blocks. Such “genetic economy” is repeated in many other areas. Huge computer searches utilise every bit of available symmetry to gain computational efficiency. In scientific experiments symmetry of the experimental design allows use of fewer experimental units. Moreover, practically all the laws of nature are based on some kind of symmetry.

Mathematically groups have a central role for measuring symmetry and for describing the structure of large complex systems. Their symmetry groups may be correspondingly complex, but their use can change impossibly difficult problems into manageable ones. The finite simple group classification has had a profound effect on Group Theory itself as well as lending its power to win stunning progress in many other areas of mathematics.

The talk is followed by a complimentary light supper in the tearoom on level 4 of E7A. All are welcome.

For more information, please contact Maths Dept Administrator, Christine Hale (

John Corbett
Chair of the Moyal Medal Committee

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