Scientific Committee Meeting Minutes for 1998

Minutes of the Scientific Committee Meeting held in Hulme Hall, University of Manchester, at 8:15 pm Tuesday 7th April 1998.


Prof M J Dunwoody (Southampton), Chairman of the 51st Colloquium
Dr I J Leary (Southampton), Secretary of the 51st Colloquium
Prof R J Archbold (Aberdeen), Edinburgh Mathematical Society
Dr C Hobbs (Oxford Brookes), elected at AGM
Prof J Howie (Heriot-Watt), Edinburgh Mathematical Society
Dr H D Macpherson (Leeds), Secretary of the 52nd Colloquium, standing in for Prof H G Dales, a London Mathematical Society representative
Prof P Rowlinson (Stirling), Edinburgh Mathematical Society
Prof M J Taylor (UMIST), London Mathematical Society
Dr G Walker (Manchester), Secretary of the 50th Colloquium


Prof R W Carter (Warwick), London Mathematical Society
Prof H G Dales (Leeds), Chairman of the 52nd Colloquium and London Mathematical Society representative.
  1. Minutes of the 1997 Scientific Committee Meeting at Royal Holloway

    These were approved.
  2. Matters arising

    There were none.
  3. Report on the 50th BMC at Manchester

    Dr Walker reported that the number of participants at the 50th BMC was approximately 200, slightly more than the 190 participants for the 49th BMC. Of these, approximately 50 were classed as postgraduates. £3,000 of the budget had been earmarked for postgraduates, who were offered a 50% discount on meals and accommodation and free registration. Most of the earmarked money had been spent. For the first time, some support was given to morning speakers. £500 had been earmarked for this purpose, with the same discounts given to morning speakers as to postgraduates. In fact, slightly more than £500 was spent on this purpose. LMS grants of £1,000 for each of the special sessions had been slightly overspent. Dr Walker expressed disappointment at the number of participants, and drew attention to the fact that some large departments such as Cambridge, Oxford and Warwick had sent very few people. There had been no 'satellite conferences' connected to the special sessions this year, in contrast to some previous years.

    Prof Taylor pointed out that attendance was up on last years' BMC, in spite of the less central location. Prof Dunwoody pointed out that recent attendance was higher than five years ago, and that there seemed to be an upward trend. In response to questions from Prof Taylor, Dr Walker said that in general the level of LMS funding had been satisfactory, although he would have preferred to allocate slightly more money to the special sessions. There was some discussion of possible ways to encourage more graduate students to attend. It was felt that more publicity would have a greater effect than a larger subsidy.

    Prof Howie complimented the local organising committee on the excellent programme for the BMC at Manchester, and this was echoed by the meeting.
  4. Progress report on 51st BMC at Southampton

    Prof Dunwoody reported that the 51st BMC is to be held from 29th March to 1st April, 1999, at the University of Southampton. Lecture theatres, and accommodation for up to 250 have been booked for these dates, the main lecture theatres being booked from the Monday evening until Thursday lunchtime. Two main speakers have accepted invitations:

    Prof D Vogan (MIT), representation theory;
    Prof A Shalev (Jerusalem), group theory.

    Prof V Arnol'd, Prof J Birman, and Prof B Mazur have refused invitations to be main speakers. (Prof Arnol'd refused immediately, Prof Mazur did not reply for some time but then refused, Prof Birman refused reluctantly.)

    It was agreed that a further two main speakers should be invited. It was suggested that Prof Vaughan F R Jones (U C Berkeley) and Prof Ken Ribet (U C Berkeley) should be contacted, with Prof Richard E Borcherds (Cambridge), Prof Dusa McDuff (SUNY at Stony Brook) and Prof F Buekenhout (Brussels) as alternatives.
  5. Speakers and special session topics for future BMCs

    Special Sessions for the 51st BMC
    It was agreed that the Special Sessions at the 51st BMC would be on Geometric Group Theory and Stochastic Analysis, as proposed at last year's SCM. Prof Dunwoody reported that he had already asked Prof D B A Epstein (Warwick) to chair the Geometric Group Theory session. It was agreed that Prof Dunwoody would ask Prof T Lyons (Imperial) to chair the Stochastic Analysis special session.

    Special Sessions for the 52nd BMC
    It was proposed that the Special Sessions for the Leeds BMC in 2000 should be 'Operator Algebras' and 'Harmonic Maps and Minimal Submanifolds'. There was some debate as to the degree of specialisation required of a special session.

    Main Speakers for the 52nd BMC
    The following names were proposed as main speakers for the 52nd BMC at Leeds:
    Prof H Bass (Columbia), Prof R W Carter (Warwick), Prof I Daubechies (Princeton), Prof E Hrushovski (Jerusalem), Prof R P Langlands (IAS Princeton), Prof Y Manin (MPI, Bonn), Prof R Schoen (Stanford).

    [Hrushovski added to these minutes on 6/5/98 in response to query of Dugald Macpherson --- EH was mentioned and supported in the meeting, slightly later than the rest.]

    Morning speakers for the 51st BMC
    The following names were suggested, from which about three were to be selected in each subject category by the local organisers. Within each category, the names were graded as either 'to be approached immediately', or 'reserves'. The lists below reflect this grading.
    Algebra (No ordering)
    Dr A V Borovik (UMIST), Dr P J Flavell (Birmingham), Dr G A Jones (Southampton), Dr M Nazarov (York), Dr D Testerman (Warwick, refused 49th and 50th, different reasons), Prof J S Wilson (Birmingham).

    Dr M C White (Newcastle: refused 50th, but was keen), Prof A G O'Farrell (Maynooth, Ireland), Dr A Grigoryan (Imperial), Dr S Bullett (QMW), Dr C J K Batty (Oxford), Dr F A Rogers (Kings), Dr A V Sobolev (Sussex), Dr M Levitin (Heriot-Watt), Prof W T Gowers (Cambridge, proposed earlier in the meeting by MJT). It was noted that Drs Levitin, Sobolev and Grigor'yan should not all speak at the same BMC to avoid narrowing the scope of Analysis.

    Dr D Singerman (Southampton), Prof J W Bruce (Liverpool), Dr D Joyce (Oxford, refused 50th), Dr W J Harvey (Kings), Dr A D King (Bath), Dr J C Wood (Leeds), Dr R M W Wood (Manchester), Dr N Strickland (Cambridge), Dr Bailey (which one?), Dr B H Bowditch (refused 50th, good reason. not for Soton, but later).

    Number theory
    Prof R E Borcherds (Cambridge, refused 50th), Dr J Nekovar (Cambridge, refused 50th with good reason), Dr D Solomon (Kings), Dr B ni Fhlathuin (formerly Bath, now in Ireland?), Dr D Burns (Kings). Note that R E Borcherds is also possibly a main speaker.

    Prof N Biggs (LSE, Comb.), Dr N S Manton (Cambridge, Math/Physics), Dr I B Leader (Kings, Comb.), Dr G Brightwell (LSE, Comb.), Dr J J Gray (Open, History), Dr J Chapman (Oxford, Phys.), Dr R J Wilson (Open, History), Dr R Hill (Salford, Comb.).
  6. Host institutions for future BMCs

    Summary of the programme already decided:

    1999: 51st BMC at Southampton University (29/3--1/4)
    2000: 52nd BMC at Leeds University (17/4--20/4)
    2001: 53rd BMC at Glasgow University (9/4--12/4)

    The Committee welcomed the invitation to hold the 54th BMC at Warwick in 2002 and agreed to recommend it to the AGM at Southampton. Warwick had expressed some interest in amalgamating this event with the BAMC --- see also the discussion in the minutes of the AGM of the 50th BMC. For the 2003 venue, it was agreed that Birmingham should be approached by the Chairman of the 51st BMC, with Sussex as a reserve.
  7. Other business

    There being no other business, Prof Dunwoody closed the meeting at 10:15pm.