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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
IMA Mathematics 2010
Article Type: News, conferences and technical reports From: Kybernetes, Volume 39, Issue 7
The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) organised what has now become an annual event and one which has attracted much attention not only from the mathematics community, but also from those who use mathematics in areas that range from management to nuclear physics.
The event has a modest title, simply “Mathematics 2010” but each year brings contributions which could provide enough interest and material for a series of specialist conferences. Held at a London venue in April 2010 at the historic Saddlers’ Hall, Getter Lane, almost in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral, its programme included speakers from many organisations and institutions.
The event was opened by an introduction by Professor Mike Walker formerly of the Vodaphone Group Services Ltd, and the current President of the IMA. This was followed by a programme of invited contribution’s which included:
Keynote speech: “Resource sharing in networks” (Professor Frank Kelly – Cambridge University, UK, e-mail: F.P.Kelly@statslob.com.ac.uk).
“Refuelling nuclear reactors – multi stage optimisation problem” (Dr Richard Overton – British Energy).
“Cantor’s set: the foundation of the digital economy” (Professor David Broomhead – University of Manchester, UK, e-mail: David.Broomhead@manchester.ac.uk).
“Mathematics and measurement” (Dr Alistair Forbes – National Physical Laboratory, UK, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
A special current concern about publishing mathematics as a subject and also as a career was highlighted by contributions:
“Mathematics careers website” (David Youdan – INA Executive Director, e-mail: email@example.com).
“Public understanding of mathematics” (Professor Chris Christopher Budd – University of Bath, UK, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The importance of mathematics was emphasised in the contribution:
“Financial mathematics” (Professor David Hobson – University of Warwick, UK, e-mail: D.Hobson@warwick.ac.uk).
Both in the introduction to this event and at a later contribution by Professor Nigel Peake of the University of Cambridge, UK on “The work of the IMA” the institution’s activities were highlighted and discussed.
Whilst each presentation could easily have merited a session of its own there were numerous discussions and questions that in themselves opened up new ideas. In particular, the keynote address showed how a mathematical approach to important challenges in networking could be tackled with a robust mathematical strategy. Professor Kelly presented his research around five main headings: processor sharing queues; star networks; multipath routing; chain description and verification; ramp metering; resource pooling. The use of Markov chain description showed the mathematics that was being used in job sharing schemes. David Broomhead clearly set out to describe his researches in Cantor’s set and how it related to the digital economy. Whilst Alistair Fobes described in some detail how NPL formalised its measurements. A brief overview explained the use of computational metrology and the computational tools available. David Hobson’s contribution was much appreciated, particularly by those who wondered why the present economic turmoil had not been predicted. Was mathematics to blame? One questioner seemed to imply, that it was, but only inasmuch as financial mathematics had not provided the necessary tools to effectively forecast the complex interrelations between the financial institutions to a point where caution and warning signs would emerge.
By limiting the number of participants to some 60 the event provided a more intimate atmosphere which encourages good relevant questioning of the presenters and many worthwhile discussions both in the main event hall and socially, particularly at the reception which was held in the historic Saddlers Hall amongst its exhibits that dated back to the seventeenth century.
This was the fifth year of the series that allows mathematicians and those who use mathematics to reflect on their current usage. The programme was similar to previous years and again brought together a wide range of different interests and speakers and participants. For many who attended the opportunity for informal networking was as important as the actual presentations.
There were many cyberneticians and systemists at the event who considered themselves to be mathematicians who applied their expertise in the field to the interdisciplinary studies that are featured in this journal.