I have a BSc in mathematics (with lots of physics material mixed in) and an MSc in mathematical physics. I’ve never studied fluid mechanics or dynamics, at least not as a topic unto themselves. I vaguely recall I once read about the Reynold’s number of a fluid, and I’m aware that the Navier-Stokes equations are a thing. I’m aware that they are generally resistant to analytical solutions, and that fluid problems are generally only solvable numerically. Having studied some stellar astrophysics I’m also aware of a principles like that of hydrostatic equilibrium, which may have relevance.

Last week at work…

What is LaTeX?

LaTeX (or TeX), for my purposes here, is a language for typing pretty, well-formatted mathematics. It eases the process of producing good looking equations in typed text. This cannot generally be achieved using normal text editors because the symbol set required is simply not available, or is extremely fiddly to access and modify. For example, anyone who has ever had to chase down a particular symbol in Windows’ charmap knows how much of a pain it is. …


I spent a little time this week getting to grips with quaternions in order to better understand some orientation filters I was using at work. I had worked with quaternions before but never had the time to fully digest them and understand them deeply. That’s not a position I like to be in as someone who thinks of themselves as a mathematician; using a mathematical tool without understanding it is iffy at the best of times, and I’m a big believer in learning for it’s own sake anyway.

Sure enough, my limited understanding led to a few simple tasks taking…

A genetic algorithm for line fitting


In this article we will solve a simple problem as an illustration of the main features of genetic algorithms.

The problem we will solve is the fitting of a straight line to a set of data. This problem can be solved in much simpler ways — you might even know some of them — but by keeping it simple we can make sure our focus lies on the genetic algorithm, and not the intricacies of the chosen problem, which will always vary.

I’m going to use Python because it’s quick, easy, and readable even if you don’t know the language…


This is not an unusual story by any means, but I think there are a lot of people out there who would be interested in software development or other technical fields but see it as an unattainable goal. I’m here to tell you that it’s not unattainable.

But I’m not here to tell you that I know how to do it. I got there by a circuitous trajectory, featuring a non-negligible quantity of luck. I’m going to tell a little of my story and hopefully you can take some inspiration or insight from it.

I’m going to give you a…

Colin Broderick

Systems engineer with no idea what he's doing

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