The University of Nottingham, Women in Maths videos

See for the new videos from the University of Nottingham on Women in Maths.

Simpson’s Paradox

Here is a table that I used in my sample lecture to illustrate Simpson’s Paradox (in this case, two hospitals arguing about which one is better at curing patients).

(Well, in my original table there are borders between the columns too, but I haven’t worked out how to do that in WordPress yet! Hopefully the columns are clear enough anyway?)

In the following table, percentages have been rounded to the nearest integer


Male patients Female patients All patients
Hospital A 1 patient

1 cured

100% cured

9 patients

5 cured

56% cured

10 patients

6 cured

60% cured

Hospital B 90 patients

89 cured

99% cured

10 patients

3 cured

30% cured

100 patients

92 cured

92% cured


For more on this phenomenon, look up Simpson’s Paradox.

Situations like this really do turn up surprisingly often!

UNoW: workaround for temporary problem

There appears to be a temporary issue with UNoW ( where some of the older links starting with have stopped working. If you are directed to one of these links, the solution is to delete the “test” bit from the beginning. For example, instead of 

you would reference

and for Mathematical Analysis, the Equella link should be

Nottingham Maths Virtual Open Day

We are now beginning to set up a University of Nottingham Maths Virtual Open Day for those who can’t make it to the real thing, or who want another look at some of the talks.
See for Echo360 recordings of two of the big talks, including my Sample Lecture on Pure Mathematics (which is really about half of the first lecture from my Foundations of Pure Mathematics module).

In my sample lecture I ran a number of in-class votes, where the audience used their mobile devices to submit a very simple Google form each time. You can watch some my sample lecture to see this in action.

Sample Lecture on Pure Mathematics

Today and tomorrow are Open Days at the University of Nottingham.

I just gave a Sample Lecture on Pure Mathematics, in which I used my Google forms voting system. This worked fairly well, except for a few teething problems. I did record the session, but I am hoping tomorrow’s session will be smoother, in which case I will release that one.

Here is the unannotated PDF file I used for my talk today:  PDF file of sample lecture


Using Google forms for in-class real-time student response analysis

I am looking for a simple IT replacement for my in-class voting system (which currently uses coloured card). I have been looking for something as simple as Socrative, but without the 50 user limit.

I found that some people have been using Google forms, so I set one of these up to see whether it reallly did work in real-time.

You can see a sample form at

You can easily view the responses to your form in a spreadsheet, or a summary of the responses as a pie chart.(but make sure you have bookmarked the links you want or used or similar to make a link that is easy to tremember!).

Here is a picture of a zoomed-in portion of the summary page, which is what I got from a “multiple choice” (radio button) question. (If you use checkboxes instead, so students can give multiple answers, it looks like you get a bar chart instead.)



You can get to this summary either from editing the form via Responses -> Summary of responses or from the response data spreadsheet via Form -> Show summary of responses

The link may enable you to see results from the current sample form, if I have set it up right!

My idea was to stick to a form with one question and then use it again and again. When I made the question a “required” question I hit a snag though: my own android phone was unable to respond! Or rather, no matter what I tried, the browser told me that I had failed to answer a required question on the form. Maybe this is a known bug or feature, but it looks to be safer not to make the question a “required” question.

The next snag I hit was on how to re-use the same form. I tried deleting the data in the spreadsheet, but this had no effect on the summary of the responses. (With the new Google spreadheets the response data is stored in the form.)

I spent some time searching on Google, and found a number of complicated methods that would take too long to  do during a class (where you might have several questions), I even considered making lots of different spreadsheets, but it seems to me better if you can stick to one easy-to-remember URL.

Finally I found!msg/docs/bpjj6yFdyGk/fsDak6bff68J

from where I quote the simple solution:

open your form and click Responses > Delete all responses

That post also suggests

then click Responses > Change response destination and create a new response sheet

but that isn’t necessary for me, because I don’t really need to keep a record of the responses to the question.

I will try this system out at the forthcoming University of Nottingham Open Days.

Gyration Air Mouse Elite

My departrment (actually the School of Mathematical Sciences) has now bought me a new “toy”: a Gyration Air Mouse Elite.

This will allow me to wander around the room, while still controlling my digital pointer (Cursor Attention at the moment, though the Air Mouse software does also come with its own digital pointer that I could use).

The mouse has programmable buttons (once you install the software). The behaviour of the buttons varies with “context”. By default this means the buttons behave differently if you are using PowerPoint, a web browser, a media player, or none of these. This is very clever, but I may delete (or deactivate) some of these extra contexts in the end, as I don’t want to get any unexpected surprises when I am trying to use the programmed buttons to toggle the digital pointer on and off (etc.).

Controlling the cursor with the mouse in the air does need a little practice, but I am rather impressed with this device. I expect to use this when recording my lectures next year. (Note that laser pointers are not helpful when recording screencasts! And I’m a bit scared of laser pointers anyway ….)