Four days of pure maths: British Mathematical Colloquium comes to Leicester

Posted by mjs76 at Apr 14, 2011 12:05 PM |
Matchbox manifolds, Monge-Ampére equations and Miller-Morita-Mumford characteristics.
Four days of pure maths: British Mathematical Colloquium comes to Leicester

Real mathematicians don't use calculators...

The largest and most important pure mathematics conference comes to the University of Leicester next week when our Department of Mathematics plays host to the 63rd British Mathematical Colloquium.

The BMC has been held every year since 1949 but the only previous occasion when it visited Leicester was the 1964 Colloquium, when the BMC Committee resolved to maintain subscription at ten shillings (five shillings for research students).

This year’s event features a free public lecture on Monday 18 April by the distinguished mathematician Professor Sir Roger Penrose, Other big names in the maths world enjoying Leicester hospitality at the Colloquium next week include:

  • Raphaël Rouquier, Waynflete Professor of Pure Mathematics at the University of Oxford and winner of the 2009 Adams Prize.
  • Elon Lindenstrauss from Princeton University and Hebrew University, winner of the 2009 Fermat Prize and the 2010 Fields Medal.
  • Timothy Gowers, Royal Society 2010 Anniversary Research Professor at the University of Cambridge: creator of the Polymath Project, author of Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction and winner of the 1998 Fields medal.
  • Simon Donaldson, Royal Society research professor in Pure Mathematics and President of the Institute for Mathematical Science at Imperial College London, winner of the 1986 Fields Medal.
Obverse of the Field Medal. The Latin inscription says: 'The mathematicians having congregated from the whole world awarded (this medal) because of outstanding writings.'

Awarded by the International Mathematical union (IMU) to recognise "outstanding mathematical achievement for existing work and for the promise of future achievement", the Fields Medal is the most prestigious award in the field of pure mathematics, the equivalent of a Nobel Prize or an Oscar.

It is awarded every four years, since 1936, at the IMU Congress to no more than four individuals which means that there have only been 52 recipients (our former Chancellor Michael Attiyah received the medal in 1966 when he was working at Oxford). So to have three Fields Medal winners at one event is impressive indeed.

What distinguishes a pure mathematics meeting like this from any of the other conferences we have hosted is that, for those of us outside of the intended audience, not only is it impossible to understand the abstracts of the presentations, it’s not even possible to work out what the titles mean.

However, though the titles of the papers may be incomprehensible to the average reader, every one of them resonates with the beauty of mathematical language. Here are some of our favourites:

  • Entropy and quantum unique ergodicity
  • Group automorphisms from a dynamical point of view
  • On mirror symmetry for Grassmannians
  • The geometry of the Miller-Morita-Mumford characteristic classes of surface bundles
  • Monoidality of Exotic Models for Localised Spectra
  • Symmetric operations in Algebraic Cobordism
  • Universal flat connections and stable rational curves
  • On the integrability of symplectic Monge-Ampére equations
  • Metric Spaces Isometric to Hilbert Spaces, Metric Measure Spaces, and the Transition Densities of Levy Processes
  • Invitation to Matchbox Manifolds
This is what a Monge-Ampére equation looks like.

The British Mathematical Colloquium takes place from Monday 18 to Thursday 21 April and features workshops, splinter groups, a poster competition and of course a conference dinner.

BMC2011 are pleased to acknowledge sponsorship by the London Mathematical Society, the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Springer.

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