Report on the 2011 Leicester BMC

The 2011 BMC was held 18 to 21 April 2011 at the University of Leicester.
Details of the programme may be viewed via the website

We were very happy with the way the meeting went, and believe it to have been a success.

The principal academic activities consisted of
  • 7 Plenary sessions (invited speakers Gowers, Lindenstrauss, Pedit, Rouquier and Vogtmann, invited public speaker Penrose, and a plenary session on mathematical developments at the EPSRC led by Harman). Lindenstrauss' lecture was nominated also as an LMS meeting.
  • 11 "morning speakers" and a session on the Mentoring African Research in Mathematics programme (MARM).
  • 6 afternoon research workshops (on algebraic topology, algebraic geometry and number theory, dynamical systems, representation theory, differential geometry and harmonic analysis).
  • Other sessions including afternoon splinter groups on the history of maths and on maths education (led by the MSOR network) and (before the main part of the BMC began) a session of contributed talks by "early career" delegates and meetings of the LMS funded 'scheme 3' groups BLOC (algebra) and TTT (topology).
The meeting attracted 227 registered participants, though we suspect there were also a number of unregistered participants who appeared for individual sessions. Roger Penrose's public lecture attracted an audience of approximately 450. The number of registered PhD students (41) was unexpectedly small, and the close (temporal) proximity of the BMC with this year's YRM may have been a factor in this as not everyone could necessarily easily fit two meetings back to back into their schedule. The BMC was chosen to run from the Monday to the Thursday of the week running up to Easter as we had assumed this would coincide with most universities' vacations; unfortunately this was not true for the Scottish universities and attendance from north of the border was consequently very low – less than 10 delegates.

The afternoon research workshops each ran for 2 afternoons; the organisers had been given £500 per workshop to spend in whatever way they thought would make the most success of their event. The workshops had been introduced in order to build an image of the BMC as being more research-relevant than it may currently be seen in some quarters – and in particular to try to boost numbers attending by linking up with established research communities. Results were mixed, with some workshops realising attendance in the 40's or 50's each day, but others were disappointing, with some speakers attending only for little more than their own talk and no real communal workshop atmosphere being achieved. It may be worth noting that the most successful workshops were those connected to specific "Scheme 3" groups, two of which took the chance to meet also in Leicester on the morning before the BMC began, hence defraying some travel expenses for some of their members. It is clear from the successful examples that the workshop idea works, but it may be wise for future BMC organisers to connect their workshops to existing, healthy research communities that would enter into the spirit of the exercise. We are encouraging the LMS to view positively the idea that a "Scheme 3" group should be able to use their funding for the organisation of a BMC satellite meeting at the host BMC institution, even if this is not one of their usual "nodes".

Other activities included a PhD student poster competition, with two prizes given by OUP. There were a variety of social events, both general and for the early career members, and we were pleased to host also the traditionally popular CUP-Springer wine reception.