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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: News, conferences and technical reports From: Kybernetes, Volume 38, Issue 9
Cyberneties Society UK
The Cybernetics Society Annual Conference was arranged for September 2009 in London, UK. A full programme of presentations was arranged by the Society's President Professor Martin Smith (UK). A full report of the event will be included in Volume 39 of this journal.
WOSC 14th Congress 2008
Readers should be aware that a conference report was published in issue nos 1/2, 2009 of this journal. A special double issue of Kybernetes was devoted to the congress presentations and Guest Edited by Professor Jerzy Józefczyk of Wroclaw Technical University, Poland who was a Co-President of the congress. These issues were published as Nos 7/8, 2009 of Volume 38 and enquiries about obtaining copies of Kybernetes should be made to Emerald Group Publishing Ltd, Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley, BD16 1WA, UK (see also web sites at the inside cover of Kybernetes).
This annual event was held in April 2009 at the Institute of Actuaries, Staple Inn Hall Holborn, London. Organised by the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). Its aim was to bring together people with an interest in mathematics and its applications to consider the current issues in these fields. Cyberneticians, systemists and management scientists would all benefit from attendance at a time when mathematics is being recognised as essential for all who work in these areas. Kybernetes was represented by its editor and by other journal contributors. The conference topics covered mathematics education at all levels; research applications; and industrial, business and other applications of mathematics.
This was not a conference that became bogged down with too much detail. There were no black- or white-boards full of mathematical symbolism, rather it addressed the impact of the work presented and not the technical detail.
The presentations were well-received by a congregation of participants who attended the conference with the serious intention of getting up-to-date in the wide ranging aspects of mathematics and of most importance to many of its current state and its fascinating study and application.
It was opened by the President of the IMA, Professor David Abraham of Manchester University, UK. Not only did he welcome participants and outline the aims of the event but he also introduced the Keynote Speaker, the distinguished mathematicion and physicist Sir Roger Penrose. He delivered an address which inspired the audience which with its varying backgrounds in the subject was glad to have his explanations. The question, how would you explain your work to a school child?, brought out from Sir Roger explanations that we could all appreciate.
The presentations involving applications were the most valuable of the conference. They included: Maths in Transport (Ben Heycecker); Public Understanding of Risk (David Spiegelhalter); Mathematical Biology (Helen Piper); Modern Cryptography (Fred Piper). Other presentations included an excellent presentation by Professor John McWirter from Cardiff University on research work that he had been involved with. Whilst Makhan Dingh of Birmingham University, UK looked at ways to encourage “More Maths Grad”, a subject of much concern in the UK and one which sparked much discussion.
The President (Professor Abrahams) outlined many of the activities of the IMA which would indeed contribute to and encourage mathematics development not only in the UK but also globally. Participants at this conference were well aware of the opportunities it offered for them to engage in informal discussion about the very many areas in mathematics that need to be addressed at the present time.
Royal Statistical Society 175th Anniversary
The 175th anniversary events to mark the foundation of the Royal Statistical Society (1834-2009) were held in London, UK. As part of the celebration a day of activities and events were held in March 2009. During the day (18 March 2009) at Errol Street in London, the Society hosted a number of talks on its history and also an exhibition of items from the society's archives and historical book collection.
Later in the evening, a reception was held at London's Barbican Centre to which all Fellows were invited to attend.
At the gathering at Errol Street six presentations were made covering the society's past, present and future.
In the opening address Peter Armitage who was President at the time of the 150th anniversary, took up the theme of why the RSS should choose a period of 25 years between occasions to look closely at itself. He argued that:
[…] it was a long enough period to allow a new generation of statisticians to make their mark, yet not so long that continuity was lost. Peter could recall the 125th celebrations in 1958 when the then prime minister, Harold Macmillan, interrupted his cold-war diplomacy to be the Society's guest of honour.
For the 125th celebtations the group of fellows, he revealed, were arranged “psuedo-randomly” at the reception so that the royal visitors would be able to meet those engaged in deliberately selected cross-section of the society's activities. He said that:
[…] it was the last 25 years where most of our progress had been made […] such as the enormous importance of the merger with the Institute of Statisticians, and advances in outreach, well illustrated by the institution of Significance, our improved relations with the press and our influence on the formation of the UK Statistics Authority.
David Hand looked back at the history of the society, from its foundation in 1834 to the present. He outlined:
[…] the extraordinary range of activities which it is now engaged in, through the 150 meetings a year, the annual conference, outreach activities, its professional development role, its Centre for Statistical Education, its named lectures, medals and prizes and, of course, the growing recognition that it is a body which can provide impartial commentary on statistical matters of all kinds. The increased awareness of the Society by others demonstrates that it is successfully fulfilling its aims, as expressed in its mission statement; namely that its activities should be “for the benefit of all society”.
Tim Holt, the previous President spoke about the connections between the society, government and parliament over the past 175 years. John Copas's theme was “The RSS and Research”. He showed how the ideas explored in RSS papers and discussions had a lasting impact on research and illustrated the society's “jealously guarded tradition of openness, robust discussion and rational argument”.
Sheila Bird followed with a presentation about external relations of the society. Choosing sample years she revealed how closely RSS founders had worked with parliamentarians and other professions – medical, legal and journalistic and presidential addresses that had themes such as the growth of population, economic statistics, natural law in the social sciences and the public understanding of statistics.
To end the event it was fitting that the society, after having looked at the past, should now look at the future. To do that Jenny Lannon, the Chair of the RSS's newest creation: the Young Statisicians Section stood up to provide a “non-statistical forecast of life as a statistician in 2034”, the year when the society would reach its 200th Anniversary. Jenny, it transpired, had been born in the year of the RSS's 150th. Those of us who are RSS fellows and indeed all readers of this journal would wish to congratulate the RSS on its achievements over the past 175 years and would wish them well in the future. The society's celebration was a memorable occasion that highlighted its 175 years of progess.