Professor Darren Crowdy was the 2011 AMSI/ANZIAM lecturer.

Professor Crowdy is recognised as one of the world’s leading experts in applying the theory of complex numbers to real‑world problems. He is an Advanced Fellow of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and holds a Chair in Applied Mathematics at Imperial College London.

Professor Crowdy’s interests are broad but centre on the application of methods of complex analysis to problems arising in the physical sciences, applied mathematics and mathematical physics. He has special interests in the field of fluid dynamics.

On 16 February 2011 he gave an AMSI public lecture at the University of Melbourne with the ironic title, “A Complex Life”. According to Crowdy, life is made easier by thinking about complex numbers, and solutions to real scientific problems can be obtained more easily by introducing imaginary concepts.

He explained, “Philip Pullman wrote in his novel, The Golden Compass: ‘Think of Adam and Eve like an imaginary number, like the square root of minus one: you can never see any concrete proof that it exists, but if you include it in your equations, you can calculate all manner of things that couldn’t be imagined without it.’ Imaginary numbers have long fascinated not just mathematicians but the public at large; it is bemusing and intriguing that an ‘imagined’ abstraction can have real‑life utility.”

Tour dates: 7 – 17 February


  • Complex analysis in low Reynolds number hydrodynamics
  • Solving problems in multiply connected domains
  • A new calculus for ideal fluid dynamics
  • A complex life
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