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Even physicists use group theory!

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Part of the TMS Symposium

An ex-IMO mathmo once explained to me that mathematical knowledge is divided into the good (pure), the bad (methods) and the ugly (physics). Obviously it was thought that cute ideas like group theory are purely recreational and have no place in the ugly business of modelling the real world. The reality is rather different. Theoretical physics is a quest for beauty, and symmetry is its guiding principle. In this talk, I’ll show you how group theory is used to solve mechanics problems where symmetry plays a role. This talk should be accessible to first years – I’ll assume that you vaguely recognise the words “group” and “vector space” but I’ll introduce representation theory from scratch in an intuitive way.

This talk is part of the Trinity Mathematical Society series.

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