Number crunchers: how maths drives Formula One and launches Angry Birds

Posted by ap507 at Jun 19, 2015 10:59 AM |
University of Leicester offers free online course to learn about the importance of calculus in modern life

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 19 June 2015

A video of Professor Jeremy Levesley describing the benefits of the ‘Real World Calculus’ MOOC is available here:

Tapping at mobile phone games, waking up to sunlight on a pleasant morning or watching a Formula One race – such experiences are at the heart of modern life, and mathematics is working behind the scenes on all of them.

The University of Leicester is offering members of the public ‘Real World Calculus: How Maths Drives Formula One and Launches Angry Birds’, a free ‘Massive Open Online Course’ (MOOC), to learn how calculus lays the foundation for many things we take for granted, from making mobile games such as Angry Birds work to enhancing an assortment of disciplines, such as engineering, biology and geography.

The course approaches mathematics in an accessible way by taking real world activities and using them to uncover the basic elements of calculus.

Professor Jeremy Levesley from the Department of Mathematics, who teaches the course, said: “Calculus is one of the greatest inventions of the human mind. It has allowed us to explore the universe, to develop amazing technology, and to understand uncertainty. Like Shakespeare, calculus is part of our heritage and its beauty and cleverness should be appreciated by society as a whole.

“The MOOC gives us an amazing opportunity to reach a much larger audience than was hitherto possible. I am very excited about trying to bring a better understanding of calculus to people, so that by the end of the course, they appreciate what an amazing thing humanity discovered in calculus.”

The course covers:

  • differentiation: how things change
  • integration: how we put these changes together to decide what happens in the future
  • and the fundamental theorem of calculus: how differentiation and integration are related

The course combines articles, activities, and videos of experts in finance, physics and engineering describing why calculus is important in their own particular field.

The course also provides the opportunity to join on-line discussions on a wide range of maths-related topics - from the wear on car tyres to who was responsible for the credit crunch.

The University of Leicester course is also part of FutureLearn Choices, a range of short courses that offer a taste of what a degree course will be like for those who are considering going to university. 

There are no entry requirements and anyone, of any age or experience, anywhere in the world, can sign up.

'Real World Calculus: How Maths Drives Formula One and Launches Angry Birds’ begins on 29 June 2015 and will last for three weeks, with a workload of two hours per week.

Sign up for the ‘Real World Calculus’ course here:

More information about FutureLearn Choices can be found here:

Keep updated on the FutureLearn Choices blog:

The University of Leicester has already developed three MOOCs, including one about Richard III, one about Forensic Science and Criminal Justice, and the first MOOC to be launched in Museum Studies.


Notes to Editors:

For more information please contact Professor Jeremy Levesley at

About FutureLearn

FutureLearn is a social learning platform based in the UK and providing free, online courses from world-class universities. The FutureLearn course experience centres on social interaction, whereby people learn by engaging in conversations around the learning material. A partnership of higher and specialist education institutions from around the world joins three cultural organisations – the British Library, British Council and the British Museum – to offer quality, higher education courses to anyone with an internet connection, anywhere in the world. FutureLearn is wholly owned by The Open University, which has over 40 years’ experience in distance and online learning. For more information, visit

For more information about FutureLearn contact Harriet Otoo, PR Manager at:

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