Scientific Committee meeting: September 2004

Minutes of the Scientific Committee of the BMC held in De Morgan House, London at 11 a.m. on Thursday 30 September 2004.

Garth Dales (Chair); Norman Biggs, Helen Robinson and Caroline Series (LMS); Edmund Robertson and Rob Archbold (EdMS); Hugh Morton and Peter Giblin (Liverpool), joint secretaries for the meeting; Martin Mathieu (Belfast); Zinaida Lykova and Nicholas Young (Newcastle); Sandra Pott (elected at 2004 AGM); Francis Clarke and Niels Jacob (Swansea, by invitation from Item 3).

In attendance
Peter Cooper (LMS).
  1. The Chairman welcomed the members to the meeting, including Rob Archbold as a new nominee of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society (to 31 May 2007) and Norman Biggs (LMS). He confirmed that for this meeting Hugh Morton and Peter Giblin would act as joint secretaries.
  2. The minutes of the meeting in Belfast on 6 April 2004 were confirmed subject to correction of a typing error. There were no matters arising not covered elsewhere in the agenda.
  3. BMC 2007
    The meeting unanimously welcomed the proposal from Swansea to host the BMC in 2007, and invited the two Swansea representatives to join the meeting.

    Advice was given on a number of topics, for example
    1. Special Sessions, which have a rough budget of £1000.
    2. International speakers: sometimes the cost can be shared with universities which the speaker visits during a longer stay.
    3. An application to the LMS should be made soon, even though the details will be incomplete.
    4. EPSRC was unlikely to fund a 'pure mathematics' conference, but application could be made to the Edinburgh Mathematical Society and possibly to specifically Welsh sources.
  4. [Item inserted by the Chairman] Full Economic Costing (FEC)
    Peter Cooper reminded the meeting that FEC would be implemented for EPSRC research grants within the next 12 months. The question at issue was whether such matters would affect grants from charities, such as the LMS, towards the expense of running conferences. Several people pointed out that, if implemented strictly, FEC would make registration fees for conferences such as the BMC very much higher, probably in line with Computer Science conferences whose participants are more commonly in receipt of research grants to cover conference attendance. The Newcastle representatives stated that secretarial help for the BMC in 2006 would cost in the region of £9000 if fully costed.

    It was suggested that some universities might 'affiliate' themselves to the BMC even if they did not run one themselves, and thereby contribute to the running costs.

    The meeting agreed that the BMC should continue as now and that FEC should be resisted if at all possible for events of this kind.

    Peter Giblin pointed out that the HoDoMS webpage would soon have a link to the slides from a presentation on FEC as it applied to research grants, given on 24 September at a HoDoMS Committee meeting by John Wand of EPSRC. Also Rama Thirunamachandran from HEFCE had been present at the meeting, and notes on the slides and on the discussion (by Peter Giblin as Secretary of HoDoMS) would be on the website too.
  5. Chair of the Scientific Committee
    The Constitution requires that there must be at least one nomination for this position at least two weeks before the AGM. At the previous meeting, Professors R Curtis (Birmingham) and J Greenlees (Sheffield) were ask to take informal soundings on the name that our Committee should put forward to the AGM at Liverpool as the next Chairman. Professor Curtis had written to HGD saying that, as a consequence of their soundings, they wished to propose the name of Professor E Robertson of St Andrews, and that Professor Robertson had agreed. At this point Professor Robertson withdrew, and, after a brief discussion, the Chairman formally proposed this nomination, and this was accepted as a nomination by the Committee. Professor Robertson was then invited to re-join the meeting.

    It was agreed to announce this nomination via the 2005 website, on the registration form and in the registration pack on the AGM agenda. Action: Liverpool representatives. Other nominations can be invited (until two weeks before the AGM) and should be sent to the Chair of the 2005 conference (Peter Giblin).

    It was agreed that, subject to approval of the AGM, the existing Chair would continue in office until 31 May following the AGM. It was also agreed that, subject to approval of the AGM, the Committee should have the power to co-opt a maximum of one person.

    Proposals to this effect will be made to the AGM in Liverpool.
  6. Conclusions of meeting with colleagues from the BAMC, 29 Sept 2004

    See THIS LINK.

    It was agreed that, at the Liverpool AGM, there would be a report on the progress of discussions on a future joint BMC + BAMC meeting. Also that, following any discussion on the subject at the AGM, considered views would be invited, which could be sent by 31 May 2005 either via a website similar to the 2005 'abstracts' website or via a private email to the new Chair of the BMC
    Scientific Committee. It was then agreed that, subject to the AGM's approval, the BMC Scientific Committee would be empowered (after due consultation with BAMC colleagues) to make a decision at the September 2005 meeting, about a joint meeting in 2009 or 2010.

    In the absence, as yet, of a BAMC Scientific Committee, it was not so clear how formal approval of a further joint meeting would be forthcoming from the BAMC community.

    It was reported that Manchester had made a bid to host the 2008 BAMC, the 50th
    in the series which started at Manchester as the British Theoretical Mechanics Colloquium.
  7. Meeting in 2008
    It was agreed that, if possible, a formal invitation from a potential host for the 2008 BMC should be made at the 2005 AGM in Liverpool, in addition to the invitation from Swansea for the 2007 BMC. The Committee accepted the principle of announcing future BMCs three years in advance.

    Various possibilities for the 2008 BMC were discussed (given that it will definitely not be a joint meeting with the BAMC), including Colleges of the University of London and also the University of York. Norman Biggs agreed to make soundings in London and report to the Committee via the Chairman.

    It was agreed that the Chairman would consult with the Committee by email and that a further meeting before the 2005 AGM to discuss any 2008 bids was unnecessary.
  8. Report from Belfast 2004
    Martin Mathieu presented the final accounts for the Belfast meeting, which show a surplus of £28.10, with a cheque for £300 awaited from Oxford UP. There were 232 registered participants of whom 82 were postgraduates. Some points which arose in discussion were:
    1. If a delegate cancels through illness then their own university's insurance may well pay the conference charges, making a refund to the delegate unnecessary.
    2. Subsidy of a postgraduate from the conference funds needs to be treated with care since for instance the LMS requires that the postgraduate's own university matches the subsidy. If there is a reduced registration fee and charge for dinner then the university would normally pay for accommodation. It was suggested that the BMC organisers might ask students to report, eventually, on their department's contribution. Another suggestion was that the first
      nn postgraduates to register would have free registration (for n<25n < 25).
    3. It was suggested that less than half the standard registration fee might be appropriate for students, perhaps one-third.
    4. Attracting postgraduates was a major aim of the BMC. The student conference before the Belfast BMC was much appreciated by the participants.
    5. Following the success of the BMC's first venture overseas, it was agreed that a future meeting might be held in Ireland, perhaps in Dublin as another joint meeting of the Irish Mathematical Society and the BMC. Action: Garth Dales to write to the President of the IMS raising this possibility for the future.
    A vote of thanks and congratulations to Belfast on a successful BMC was passed with acclaim.
  9. Plans for Liverpool
    Peter Giblin and Hugh Morton presented the draft programme. The organisers are: Peter Giblin (Chairman), Hugh Morton (Secretary), Ke Chen (Treasurer), Ozgur Selsil (Webmaster), Sasha Movchan (BAMC). The scientific programme is intended to satisfy the requirements of both the BMC and the BAMC communities. Thus BAMC parallel sessions run alongside BMC splinter groups and Special Sessions, and there will be 'BMC plenary talks', 'BAMC plenary talks' and 'Plenary plenary talks'. The Special Sessions will be Dynamical Systems and Algebraic/Arithmetic Geometry. The list of morning speakers was presented, and some details of timing were amended following discussion. Some points from the discussion were:
    1. It would not be a good idea to have a formal session on the first (Monday) evening. On Tuesday evening there could be an Education session. It was agreed that Celia Hoyles, the recently appointed Government Chief Adviser on Mathematics, should be invited to address this session. Action: Peter Giblin.
    2. It was pointed out by Niels Jacob that in Germany conferences like the BMC sometimes have public lectures for schoolchildren given by world class figures, in parallel with the scientific programme.
    3. It was pointed out that the list of morning speakers for the BMC part of the 2005 programme is unrepresentative of the current state of UK Mathematics departments in the lack of speakers who have been recruited from overseas.
    4. It was agreed that members of the Committee should bring to the April 2005 meeting several suggestions of their own for morning speakers, to be considered alongside those proposed in the normal way by the hosts.
    5. Splinter Groups
      The Liverpool representatives were urged to decide on topics and organisers for splinter groups soon, and some possible names were suggested. It was suggested that some splinter group lectures should be signed up in advance, as part of the registration process, but that it should also be possible to propose a title at the conference itself.
    6. It was agreed that the Scientific Committee should meet on the afternoon following the conference, that is on Thursday 7 April 2005, starting at 1pm and ending by 3:30pm.
    7. There was some discussion of the seating arrangements for the conference dinner. In Belfast there were three tables with assigned seating, where the senior figures from Queen's University were seated with plenary speakers and others closely involved in the running of the conference, and the rest of the tables had unassigned seating.
  10. Plans for Newcastle BMC, 2006
    The delegates from Newcastle presented their plans. The organisers are: N J Young (Chairman), Z A .Lykova (Treasurer), M C White (Secretary), M A Dritschel (Webmaster), O H King (Deputy Chairman February-August 2005).

    The Special Sessions are Analysis and Geometry on Groups (A G Robertson and A J Duncan) and Operator Theory (J R Partington and M A Dritschel).

    A number of possible plenary speakers had been contacted and three had accepted. Other names were discussed by the Committee. It was suggested that Newcastle look for one further plenary speaker and one UK speaker to give a plenary morning talk.
  11. Any Other Business
    The Chairman thanked the Belfast representative, Martin Mathieu, for his excellent contribution to the Committee.
  12. Date of Next Meeting
    Thursday 7 April 2005, 1pm, University of Liverpool.
The meeting closed at 4.15pm.

Minutes signed by Peter Giblin and Hugh Morton, 7 October 2004; revised 2 November 2004.