An OU academic has received just over £300,000 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to better understand how graphs behave in pure mathematics.
Dr Katherine Staden, Lecturer in Pure Maths in the OU’s Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, is starting this three-year project in July 2022.
She will explore the area of graph decomposition – a sort of mathematical jigsaw puzzle where the pieces and big picture are provided and the question is whether the pieces can fit together to form the picture.
According to Dr Staden, this type of problem is one of the oldest in Combinatorics (an area of maths primarily concerned with counting), and it is important because graphs are used to model and describe many different systems in biology, communications and computer science.
Dr Staden said:
“The aim of the project is to develop tools for the exciting problem of graph decomposition and to attack some intriguing open problems along the way. It's not hard to understand the statement of these problems, which is unusual in modern pure mathematics, but solving them will require new ideas and techniques.”