Scientific Committee Meeting: January 2004

Note that this is the meeting which would normally have taken place in September 2003 (and so its minutes are under 2003)
Meeting of the Scientific Committee of the BMC at 11.00am, 22 January 2004, De Morgan House, London.

  1. Welcome; membership; secretary
  2. Minutes of the meeting of the Committee at the BMC in Birmingham; matters arising
  3. Modification of the constitution of the BMC
  4. Status of the Scientific Committee and the BMC
  5. Relations with the BAMC
  6. Future meetings of the BMC
  7. Meeting in Belfast 2004
  8. Joint meeting in Liverpool 2005
  9. Meeting in Newcastle 2006
  10. Archives of the BMC
  11. Date of next meeting

  1. Membership 22 January 2004

    Chairman :
    H G Dales (Leeds) - until the end of AGM of the BMC in 2005

    Elected at the Birmingham BMC:
    W Crawley-Boevey (Leeds) - until the end of the AGM of the BMC in 2004

    Nominees of the London Mathematical Society:
    J Greenlees (Sheffield) - until 31 May 2004
    H Robinson (Coventry) - until 31 May 2005
    C Series (Warwick) - until 31 May 2006

    Nominees of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society:
    G Jameson (Lancaster) - until 31 May 2004
    E Robertson (St. Andrews) - until 31 May 2006

    Representative of Birmingham 2003:
    R T Curtis - until the end of this meeting

    Representatives of Belfast 2004:
    D Armitage - until 31 May 2004
    M Mathieu ~ until 31 May 2004

    Representatives of Liverpool 2005:
    P J Giblin - until 31 May 2005
    H Morton - until 31 May 2005

    Representatives of Newcastle 2006:
    Z A Lykova - until 31 May 2006
    N J Young ~ until 31 May 2006

    In attendance:
    P Cooper (LMS)
  2. Minutes and matters arising

    Minutes of Birmingham - attached

    Re Item 4
    (i) Election from the floor?
    (ii) The accounts of Warwick have not reached me - what do we do, if anything? Is this a matter between LMS and hosts? Accounts of Birmingham?
    (iii) Fees for postgraduates?

    Re item 5 - see later

    Re item 7 - no possible venues were sent to me; see later
  3. Constitution of the BMC

    This is available at THIS LINK
    It should be circulated in the 'welcome package' to all members at the Belfast meeting (together with a list of members of the Scientific Committee).
  4. The BMC and the LMS

    I shall present a document prepared by Peter Cooper after discussions with myself and Nick Woodhouse, as treasurer of the LMS. I hope that you will accept this as the best way forward. Recall that we did have a draft of a 'Memorandum of Agreement' between the LMS and our Committee. This requires some modification in the light of the previously mentioned document; if you do accept that document, we shall prepare a revised version of the memorandum, and present this at the next meeting of the Scientific Committee. (If anyone would like to see the unrevised version of the memorandum, and perhaps comment thereon, please ask for a copy.)
  1. Future meetings

    For the pattern of announcements of meetings, see a later sheet. Are any changes in this pattern appropriate for the 2007 meeting? (They are necessarily somewhat different for joint meetings.)

    Re future meetings: cost is a factor; the following declined to bid for a joint meeting in 2008: Oxford, King's College London, Imperial College London. However Oxford, through Nick Woodhouse, say that they would be "seriously interested" in hosting the BMC in 2009 or 2010.

    Possibility of satellite meetings.
  1. Archives

    I have a copy of the programme for 17 of the years in the period 1975-1999 (thanks to Graham Jameson). Do you wish to see these? Should I seek to fill the gaps? I could acquire from Graham the lists of attendees in these 17 years - should these be in the archives?

    I attach for reference the following lists. WARNING: the lists are incomplete and probably inaccurate. Please send me corrections. Should we make a serious attempt to correct these lists, for example by writing to former organizers?

    (i) Locations of previous BMCs.

    (ii) Morning speakers from 1985 to 2003.

    (iii) Principal speakers from 1949.

    (iv) Special sessions from 1994.
Announcement of future meetings

The pattern is exemplified by Newcastle 2006:
  1. Before the meeting in Birmingham 2003 - informal discussions between the Chairman of the Scientific Committee and Newcastle.
  2. At the meeting of the Scientific Committee in Birmingham - a letter of invitation for the 2006 BMC was received from Newcastle, and was accepted by the Committee. After this Newcastle will approach the LMS for financial support. Any response from the LMS is conditional on Newcastle being accepted at the AGM in 2004.
  3. At the meeting of the Scientific Committee in January 2004, the general structure of the meeting in Newcastle is discussed, and the two special sessions are agreed.
  4. At the AGM in Belfast 2004, the Chairman of the Newcastle Committee will formally invite the BMC to Newcastle in 2006, give the exact dates and the special sessions, and make what comments he chooses. The invitation will be accepted 'by acclaim'. This makes the Newcastle venue 'legal'.
  5. At the Scientific Committee in Belfast 2004, the choice of plenary speakers and organizers for special sessions will be discussed. It is helpful if Newcastle circulate a list of possible speakers in advance, other Committee members are invited to make suggestions; formal invitations are made by Newcastle 'on behalf of the Scientific Committee of the BMC'. It is difficult to persuade very famous foreign speakers to speak at a BMC, and so the list of possibilities should be at least twice the length of the number of slots; the best chance of securing an acceptance is to use as an intermediary a UK colleague who knows the person personally.
  6. Newcastle will report on progress at the meeting of the Scientific Committee in October 2004, probably suggesting some special areas of concentration in the pattern of lectures.
  7. At the Scientific Committee in Liverpool 2005, the choice of UK-based speakers will be discussed. It is helpful if Newcastle circulate a list of possible speakers in advance; other Committee members are invited to make suggestions; formal invitations are made by Newcastle 'on behalf of the Scientific Committee of the BMC'. These invitations are usually accepted, and so the list of people to be invited should be just a little longer than the number of slots. It may be that Newcastle will hear quite late that a particularly suitable person is in the UK at the relevant time, and will choose to make an invitation.
Notes for HGD

(I) Welcome - especially Caroline Series (LMS) and Edmund Robertson (EMS); Nicholas Young and Zina Lykova (Newcastle)

Secretary: David Armitage (Belfast)

(II) Next meeting within BMC at Belfast. Thanks to Rob Curtis (Birmingham), who is leaving the Committee.

Meeting of the Scientific Committee Meeting at De Morgan House, London at 11 am on 22 January 2004.

H. Garth Dales (Chairman), Rob Curtis (Birmingham), David Armitage and Martin Mathieu (Belfast), Peter Giblin and Hugh Morton (Liverpool), Zinaida Lykova and Nicholas Young (Newcastle), John Greenlees, Helen Robinson and Caroline Series (LMS), Graham Jameson and Edmund Robertson (EdMS), William Crawley-Boevey (elected at AGM)

In attendance: Peter Cooper (LMS executive officer)
  1. The Chairman welcomed new committee members. A membership list was tabled. It was noted that one member from the host institution of a BMC should remain on the Scientific Committee until the following year.
    M. Mathieu volunteered to remain as Belfast's representative until 2005.
  2. The minutes of the meeting in Birmingham on 8 April 2003 were agreed.

    Accounts and auditing:
    Until 2001, the treasurer of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society audited the BMC accounts; however this came to an end in 2001 at the request of the EdMs, and the residual money was given to the LMS (see below). It was agreed that, since each BMC is free-standing, formal auditing is unnecessary: accounts need only meet the requirements of the host institution and show that all conditions specified by the donors of grants received have been satisfied. Financial information will pass through the Scientific Committee.

    Accounts for the Warwick B(A)MC have not yet been received. The accounts for the Birmingham BMC are expected to show a surplus of
    c. £2000. A summary of these accounts will be distributed at the Belfast BMC and presented, for information, to the Scientific Committee meeting and the BMC AGM at Belfast.

    Fees for postgraduates: Typically an LMS grant to a BMC includes a sum allocated to support the attendance of postgraduate students. There was concern that if this sum were used to waive students' fees indiscriminately, then it might not be of real benefit to most students but indirectly subsidise EPSRC, which also supports students' attendance at conferences. The Scientific Committee would prefer postgraduate support to be distributed according to the merits of individual cases and will encourage the charging of some, perhaps reduced, fees for students.

    Elected members: It was agreed that the Scientific Committee should continue to include just one member elected annually at the AGM of the BMC.
  3. Modification of the constitution of the BMC

    A revised constitution, incorporating changes agreed at the AGM of the Birmingham BMC, was tabled. No further changes are proposed.

    The Constitution is available at THIS LINK
  4. Status of the Scientific Committee and the BMC

    H.G. Dales, P. Cooper and N. Woodhouse (LMS Treasurer) had met on 13 June 2003 to discuss various aspects of BMC arrangements. Notes of their meeting were tabled and the Chairman described the background of important recommendations arising from the meeting. Surpluses used to be forwarded from one BMC to the next through an account held by the EdMS. For legal reasons the EdMS had wanted this arrangement to cease, and it was agreed at the Glasgow BMC in 2001 that the balance then held, c. £7500, should be given to the LMS in exchange for assurances of continuing LMS support for BMCs. Thus there is now no procedure for transferring funds between BMCs. Following a recommendation from the meeting of 13 June, it was agreed that each BMC is to be free-standing, and that the Scientific Committee is to be advisory only and is to have no responsibility in respect of financial matters. The possibility of transferring balances direct from one BMC to the next was raised, but there would be difficulties: an institution may forbid the gift of a positive balance or the acceptance of a negative one.

    P. Cooper explained the main points of a tabled document The structure of the British Mathematical Colloquium, dated 20 January 2004, the purpose of which is to codify the structure of the BMC and to inform and give legal protection to those responsible for organising and advising on BMCs. The document states that the AGM of a BMC is responsible for the designation of a future BMC, but does not prescribe the interval between the confirmation of a BMC's venue and its taking place: a two-year interval is usual, but three years may be preferable. The LMS can provisionally agree grants before confirmation of venues. It was agreed that the document should be amended as follows: clause 4(c), to start "Possible development …" in clause 5(a) "Departments of Mathematics" to read "mathematics departments"; a new clause to be inserted, "5(d) Advise on the selection of BMC plenary speakers." Further comments on the document should be sent to H.G. Dales and P. Cooper, who will liaise to produce a final version. It was unanimously agreed that, after minor revision, the document should be commended to the AGM of the BMC in Belfast.

    A Memorandum between the Scientific Committee of the British Mathematical Colloquium and the London Mathematical Society, dated 19 March 2003, was tabled. Two amendments were agreed: the opening sentence to read "The LMS and the BMC are mutually independent." and the words "BMC Programme Committee or the specific" to be deleted from paragraph (c). It was unanimously agreed to accept the Memorandum with thanks to the LMS, and to present it at the AGM of the Belfast BMC for information only.

    This Memorandum is available at THIS LINK

    P. Cooper emphasised that the LMS cannot hold BMC funds and would expect only the return of any portion of its grant that was not used for the designated purposes. The difficulty of deciding how to deal with surplus BMC funds remained. It was feared that the possibility of making a loss might deter departments from offering to host BMCs.
  5. Relations with BAMC

    A Recommendation from the ad hoc meeting to discuss BMC and BAMC cooperation, dated 21 January 2004, was tabled.

    These are available at THIS LINK

    This arose from a recent meeting of representatives of the BMC and BAMC. The document favoured the continuance of joint B(A)MC meetings and addressed some difficulties associated with them. The BAMC has no counterpart of the BMC Scientific Committee; a committee consisting of the two past, one current and two future BAMC chairpersons has general oversight of the BAMC. Our hope is that a BAMC committee, similar to the BMC Scientific Committee, with a designated Chairperson, can be formed, to provide continuity and liaison with our Committee. This recommendation will be put to the next BAMC, which will take place in April 2004, but later than the BMC. If a favourable consensus emerges at the BAMC, then a joint committee meeting will be proposed, preferably for the day before the meeting of the BMC Scientific Committee in September 2004.

    It is not clear whether a three-year cycle of joint B(A)MC meetings can be sustained. It will not be possible to bring forward a proposal for such a meeting in 2008 until the Liverpool B(A)MC of 2005, and this may not be soon enough. Manchester had been tentatively proposed as a venue for a B(A)MC in 2008 (the 50th anniversary of the BAMC), although the BMCs of 1996 and 1998 were held at UMIST and Manchester University.

    There had been an informal indication that Oxford might be willing to host a B(A)MC, but the Mathematical Institute there is to be rehoused in 2008; an Oxford B(A)MC in 2009 or 2010 may be feasible. The Chairman had enquired whether King's College London or Imperial College would host a B(A)MC, but both had declined. It was suggested that Manchester University might plan to host the BMC and BAMC in 2008 and later decide whether the meetings should be held jointly.

    A consensus emerged in the Scientific Committee: to await the development of a new BAMC committee structure and a proposal from Manchester, but not to enter into any commitment at present. It is expected that the Scientific Committee will make an informal decision concerning a joint B(A)MC meeting for 2008. If favourable, this decision would be put to the AGM of the Liverpool BMC. Otherwise the future of joint B(A)MC meetings will be reconsidered after the Liverpool BMC.
  6. Future meetings of the BMC

    It would be desirable to bring a proposed venue for the 2007 BMC to the AGM at Belfast, but it was proving difficult to find a department willing to accept nomination. A venue in the south or midlands would be preferred, and the following universities were suggested: Coventry, Kent, Leicester, Queen Mary College, Swansea, and Sussex. It was remarked that the relatively small departments at Kent and Sussex might benefit from hosting a BMC. However, the Pure Mathematics staff at Coventry are probably too few to act as hosts. If more than one university is willing to host the 2007 BMC, then comparative costs will be investigated.
  7. Meeting in Belfast 2004

    A programme for the Belfast BMC was tabled. M. Mathieu reported on progress. On-line registration should be possible very soon. The draft budget is quite tight. Rather than award prizes for lectures by students, it is proposed to give each student speaker a book token; the sponsor, OUP, approves. Mathematicians based in Ireland are generally enthusiastic, but the BMC falls in the teaching terms of most Irish colleges. The Chairman requested Committee members to urge colleagues to attend the BMC. It was noted that air-fares to Belfast can be quite cheap, especially if booked early.
  8. Joint meeting in Liverpool 2005

    A draft schedule for the Liverpool B(A)MC was tabled. It is planned to have one plenary lecture each day on a topic that will interest both pure and applied mathematicians; the speakers will be Professors Ball, Berry, Friedman and McDuff. Four plenary lectures are planned in Pure Mathematics and three in Applied Mathematics.

    A list of potential speakers was tabled. It was suggested that the names of Eleanor Robson (OU) and Alyson Etheridge (Oxford) should be added. Further suggestions will be welcome at the Belfast meeting. The Chairman remarked that it would be good to concentrate on, say, four main areas of mathematics and that there should be at least 12 morning speakers. A more detailed draft schedule will be brought to the Belfast meeting of the Scientific Committee.
  9. Meeting in Newcastle 2006

    A paper Announcement of future meetings was tabled. Taking the Newcastle meeting as a model, it sets out the stages in which a BMC venue is agreed and confirmed and speakers are selected and approached.

    It is provisionally planned that the BMC should run from 1 pm on Monday 3 April to 1 pm on Thursday 6 April 2006. (Good Friday falls on 14 April.) The hire of lecture rooms will not be expensive. Accommodation will be provided at about £20 per night in Castle Leazes Halls, which are within walking distance of the main site. Special sessions in Geometric Group Theory and Operator Theory/Operator Algebras were suggested, as these represent some of the special interests of Newcastle staff. It was agreed that special sessions should, over a period of years, cover a wide variety of areas of mathematics. The Chairman remarked that special sessions need not reflect the interests of a host department and there may be some advantage in entrusting the organisation of special sessions to colleagues from elsewhere. Ring Theory was mentioned as a topic which has not been treated in special sessions since 1995. N. Young would welcome suggestions for plenary speakers in the very near future. It is hoped that a list of suggested plenary speakers can be produced and the choice of special session topics finalised at the Belfast meeting.

    Z. Lykova remarked that it would be very helpful to local organisers to have papers on the BMC's constitution, structure, past speakers, splinter groups, etc.

    It was noted that the Data Protection Act prevents the forwarding of databases from one BMC to another. It may be possible to circumvent this difficulty by issuing a suitably worded disclaimer.
  10. Archives of the BMC

    H. G. Dales has updated historical information about the BMC, which will be forwarded to the LMS. G. Jameson has provided BMC programmes for some of the last 15 years. It was agreed that, as primary documents, these should be kept in the archive. An appeal for missing BMC programmes will be made at the Belfast BMC and be published in the LMS Newsletter. G. Jameson volunteered to help correct lists of speakers by using available programmes.
  11. Next meetings

    The next meeting will take place at 8.15 pm on Tuesday 6 April 2004 in Belfast, and it is provisionally planned to hold a meeting on Thursday 30 September 2004 in De Morgan House.
The Chairman thanked the retiring members W. Crawley-Boevey and R. Curtis for their service to the Committee.

Minutes signed by David Armitage on 3 February 2004.