President’s Report 2012

Suppose that a computer program (‘daemon’) receives two random infinite strings of 0s and 1s. It tries to remove collisions (1s in the same place in both strings) by deleting 0s from one of the sequences. This is clearly impossible if the daemon can only see a finite time into the future – but what if the daemon knows the entire infinite sequences (a ‘clairvoyant daemon’)? This is one of the interesting – and unsolved – problems which Prof. Geoffrey Grimmett presented in one of our recent talks to the Adams Society.

Unfortunately the year started with a tragedy, when we lost the traditional cricket match against the Trinity Mathematical Society. Our garden party in the same week made up for the misfortune: the weather was beautiful and Pimms and strawberries plentiful.

In Michaelmas 2011, we had talks on a wide range of topics: Dr Piers Bursill-Hall talked about John Dee, an influential Johnian mathematician, and Prof. John Coates, FRS, about mysterious links between L-functions and arithmetic. Dr Stephen Cowley asked whether complex numbers are really necessary when modelling ‘real’ fluids and Prof. Richard Weber described one of his favourite puzzles in probability: the ‘bomber problem’. We hosted our annual Freshers’ squash as well as the traditional desserts party with guest speaker Prof. Peter Wadhams.

In Lent term, Prof. Béla Bollobás, FRS, gave a talk on interesting problems in combinatorics, and hosted a wonderful wine-and-cheese party afterwards. Guest speaker at our annual dinner in the candlelit senior combination room was the Johnian Sir John Ball, FRS. We also hosted talks by Prof. Geoffrey Grimmett, on the clairvoyant daemon, and Prof. John Toland, FRS, on some beautiful proofs regarding polynomials.

Philipp Legner, President 2011-2012

You can view other Presidents’ reports here.

About Us

The Adams Society is the mathematics society of St John’s college, Cambridge. We host numerous events each year including mathematical talks and socials.

More about events.


Free admission to all talks. Refreshments are served in the foyer before each talk.

Our talks usually take place in the Fisher Building, St John’s College.

Direction and map.


Get in touch through our committee members or email

Our committee members.

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