In AMSI scholarship recipient
AMSI grant recipient profile: William Pincombe

William Pincombe

University of Adelaide

I’m a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) student at the University of Adelaide. In undergrad I studied a double degree in Mathematics and Economics, with an extra Major in History. I was pleased to be able to combine most of these disciplines into a master’s project on the application of statistical methods to historical research.

Can you give me a quick rundown about the type of mathematics you are studying and its potential impacts for the broader community?

The topic of my master’s research is the application of sentiment analysis to historical research. Sentiment analysis is the process of using statistical methods to assess the sentiment of a piece of text. Historians often need to read and assess the sentiment expressed in large numbers of written sources, and sentiment analysis can potentially provide tools to assist with this.

How did you get into mathematics? Was there someone or something that inspired you into this field?

I got into mathematics through economics, which was actually where I started at university. I found that mathematics was really the foundation of economics, and I became interested in learning more about the mathematical methods we were applying in economics. Mathematics is the language of science and can be applied to a vast array of other disciplines.

You received a Travel Grant to attend AMSI Summer School 2023. How important was this in terms of your ability to attend, fully participate in the program and meet others studying in similar fields?

I think it was definitely good to have the two weeks in-person. Staying at the college with students from around Australia and New Zealand was an intellectually stimulating experience, as well as tremendously fun. The in-person part of the program was also, for me at least, incredibly useful for understanding the core concepts in the course I was studying.

What was the most valuable part of the program for you?

I think that the social experience was the most valuable part of the program – meeting great people from other places I otherwise would never have met. But the course content was valuable too and introduced me to an interesting new area that I could not study at my home university.

In the long-term, what do you think are the benefits of having attended Summer School?

The summer school was the first time I had met mathematicians from other cities, and I think that this experience will benefit me in the long-term. It has also grown my confidence and given me a much broader knowledge of the many research areas and applications of mathematics.

Summer School included a special Careers Day program which aims to help give students an idea of the kinds of career paths available to maths graduates in industry and private sector research areas. Were you previously aware of the types of industry opportunities available to mathematical science graduates?

I think the Careers Day program did open my mind to the range of career options available to mathematics graduates. I feel more informed on where to look for work in the future.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering applying for Summer School in 2024? Should they apply and why?

If you can go, you definitely should! You will meet interesting people and learn a lot.

Where do you want the mathematical sciences to take you? Where do you see yourself in five, ten years time?

I would really like to work in research after my Masters, either in mathematics or in its application to another discipline.