John Hunton's WebPage

 

Department of Mathematical Sciences
Durham University
Science Laboratories
South Road
Durham, DH1 3LE
United Kingdom

Telephone: ++44 (0) 191 334 3050

Email: john.hunton@durham.ac.uk

A brief history

I joined Durham as a Professor in Pure Mathematics in September 2013, having been Professor at the University of Leicester. I was an undergraduate and PhD student at the University of Cambridge, where I was also a Research Fellow at Trinity College. In between I held Fellowships or other positions at the Universities of Manchester, Edinburgh and St Andrews. I grew up in Liverpool.

Research My main research interests lie at the interface of Algebraic Topology, Dynamical Systems and Noncommutative Geometry, particularly in the way they interact in the study of Aperiodically Ordered Patterns and Tilings.

A powerful tool used to study the geometry of aperiodic patterns is a method of passing from a given pattern to a certain associated moduli space equipped with a dynamical action of one of the Euclidean groups or their subgroups. This setup is then amenable to study from both topological and dynamical perspectives, but in turn can also be used as an important class of examples of dynamical systems.

I also have continuing interests in classical algebraic topology, for example in the modeling of infinite loop spaces and their applications, particularly to representation theory, group cohomology and unstable Adams spectral sequences.  

Teaching Over the last few years with colleagues I have developed and become a keen advocate of a problem based learning component in undergraduate maths degrees. This has included the development of a handcrafted "UK" version of the American Moore Method approach. Not only has this proved highly popular, but it also makes a significant contribution to the development of students' abilities to read, write and think about mathematics in a serious and professional manner. If you're interested to know more, then do get in touch.

 

Outside

I have served as a Member of Council of the London Mathematical Society since 2011, first as a Member-at-Large, and, since 2013, as Publications Secretary, the Society's Officer with oversight of the LMS publications activities. I had previously bee the Editorial Advisor to the LMS on K-theory and Algebraic Topology.

Since 1999 I have served on the EPSRC College and was a member of the EPSRC Strategic Advisory Team for the Mathematical Sciences 2010-2013.

I am a member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the British Mathematical Colloquia, and was chair of the 2011 BMC, held in Leicester.

In the current climate it seems crucial that mathematics, in particular pure maths, is visible and works to explain its importance to society at large. Our exhibition How do shapes fill space? was selected by the Royal Society for its Summer Science Exhibition in 2009, has subsequently toured a number of science festivals and has be made into a sequence of Masterclasses at the Royal Institution. 

Here are some contributions on numbers with interesting geometric or topological properties I have made to Brady Haran's Numberphile series on YouTube: look at Five for some chat on tiling problems and quasicrystals, and see Three for some shots of Borromean Rings.

The process of making mathematics tangible to the non-mathematician has also led me to both train as a silversmith (see the Borromean Rings video for an example) and self-train to work with real tiles, not just pencil and paper ones; here is a part of the aperiodic Ammann-Beenker tiling (a irrational slice of a regular tessellation of euclidean 4-space by cubes) progressing up a kitchen wall in Nottiinghamshire. A number of my students have also become interested in the process of physically creating representations of mathematical objects: see here for Claire Irving's knitting and crochet patterns for projective spaces, which made the front cover of the Math Gazette