A Laboratory for Computational Mathematics in Coimbra

The University of Coimbra (UC) was founded in 1290 and constitutes a reference in higher education and scientific research in Portugal, with excellent academic reputation recognized worldwide. It includes 8 faculties and 32 research centres, providing teaching and conducting research in almost all study fields, as well as several structures devoted to promote science and technology, culture and sports. UC stands out also on technology transfer being involved in the promotion of several initiatives, like IPN Incubator and Biocant, and in the creation of diverse technological spin-offs, as Active Space Technologies, Artscan, Crioestaminal, Critical Software, Feedzai, InfoGene, Inogate, iNovmapping, ISA Intellicare, Luzitin, Move Mile, Sensebloom, SPI and Take The Wind, amongst others. On 22 June 2013, UNESCO added the university to its World Heritage List.

 

The offer in technological research makes UC an undeniable reference in R&D in Portugal, which highlights the excellence of work developed by the R&D units of UC. In particular, Centre for Mathematics of the University of Coimbra (CMUC), a research centre that comprises most of the research-active members of the Department of Mathematics of the University of Coimbra (DMUC), that was ranked as “Exceptional” in the latest evaluation by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology.

Laboratory for Computational Mathematics

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In 2005 CMUC created the Laboratory for Computational Mathematics (LCM) to boost new trends in mathematical research in close connection with real industrial problems. During its ten years of existence, LCM has been promoting research in computational mathematics and scientific computing as techniques for the solution of challenging problems arising in biological sciences, engineering, finance, and management. The activity of LCM includes interdisciplinary research, high performance computing and the development of numerical software, in collaboration with industry, and also promotes PhD and Master’s graduate education.

The relationship with industry

As an interface with the University and industry, one of LCM’s major tasks is to identify relevant social and industrial problems that should be tackled. To identify such problems, contacts outside the mathematics community are important. To pursue this goal, LCM organized several workshops an2d is strongly committed with the organization of the ECMI European Study Group with Industry in Portugal, an event hosted by different institutions in the country since 2007.

Although it was created without specific funding and no dedicated full time staff, the project portfolio of the LMC includes 18 application-oriented projects, some having industrial partners, namely hospitals, banks and bank holding companies, data and software companies, and industrial firms. As an example, we highlight the project “Simulation of a Moving Bed Reactor used in the Pulp and Paper Industry”, in collaboration with Department of Chemical Engineering of UC and the leading paper production company Portucel Soporcel, located near Coimbra, which is one of the world’s biggest producers of bleached eucalyptus Kraft pulp for the packaging industry and one of Europe’s top five producers of uncoated wood- free paper.

In December 2013 an important milestone was achieved with a partnership with Critical Health, a private company. The objective is to create a technology able to automatically identify retinal lesions in diabetic patients, by processing eye images.  Mathematical outcomes of all these projects have been published in several peer reviewed scientific journals.

 

The educational programs

The topics covered by LCM have a prominent place in the educational programs at DMUC, especially at the Master level. The applied Master programs of DMUC are divided into several areas: Applied Analysis and Computing and Statistics, Optimization, and Mathematics in 5Finance. In these Master specialties the students are in contact with real problems. Some companies, like Reuters, Critical Software and Mercer, support these Masters. Students have the possibility to develop their MSc thesis in these companies, being supervised by a member of the mathematical faculty and a member of the company staff. Quantitative Methods and Financial Mathematics is another applied Master program, shared by DMUC and the Faculty of Economics of the University of Coimbra, and involves companies like Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs and the Portuguese banks Millennium BCP and Montepio Geral.

The MSc in Mathematics, specialization in Applied Analysis and Computing, is now recognized as an industrial mathematics programme conforming to the ECMI model and, since last year DMUC holds the title of ECMI Teaching Centre.

One of the goals of the LCM is to incorporate students in its projects. As consequence, the number of MSc and PhD thesis made under LCM projects has increased. LCM also promotes events in collaboration with student’s organizations. An example is the first Iberian Modelling Week, organized by LCM and the Master students of DMUC.

Contacts

Laboratory for Computational Mathematics
Centre for Mathematics of University of Coimbra
Apartado 3008, EC Santa Cruz,
3001-501 Coimbra, Portugal

Tel: +351 239 791 150
Fax: +351 239 793 069

Email: lcm@mat.uc.pt

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