ICIAM 2003: "An Unparalleled Snapshot of Our Profession"

November 7, 2002


Noel Barton, Congress Director for ICIAM 03 (Sydney, Australia, July 7-11).

Noel Barton

In this update, I write as a proud parent. I recently welcomed home my older son, now 27, who had been studying at the International Space University in Strasbourg, France. Not having seen him for a year, I'm amazed at his maturity, capabilities, usefulness, international connections, and success. On reflection, I realize that he had a lot of good things in his favour---such as his genetic make-up and the fact that he is the recipient of all the love, wisdom, and support his parents could give. He has now finished his studies and is a thoroughly international citizen who is valuable in many ways-technical and social, to name just two.

But what does this have to do with ICIAM 2003?

It occurs to me that the generation-long development I see in my son has parallels to the generation-long development of the worldwide movement in industrial and applied mathematics. Yes, I know that my arithmetic isn't all that accurate: Industrial and applied mathematics is far more than 27 years old. GAMM, for example, celebrates its 80th birthday this year, and SIAM its 50th, and the famous Oxford Study Groups date back to the 1960s. But I think it can be argued that many current international initiatives took their first steps in the mid-1970s-at about the same time as my son.

Like my son, the industrial and applied mathematics movement came from good stock (what could be better than mathematics, both a supreme creation of the human spirit and a key enabling technology for economic development?) and received all the love and support its founders could give. Industrial and applied mathematics has also arrived at a fully mature state. It is international. It is useful, and promises to become even more so in the future. It, too, is still changing as it seeks to express its capabilities for the next generation of development. I think there is enough of a parallel for me. So let me expand on the qualities that ICIAM 2003---a major manifestation of the industrial and applied mathematics movement---shares with my son.

Will the Congress be useful? Absolutely! Our 27 invited speakers have been chosen very carefully to give an unparalleled snapshot of our profession. We have also declared Tuesday, July 8, "Industry Day." One feature of the day will be a series of special technological workshops on the application of mathematics in key sectors of industry. In addition, several embedded meetings (see below) all target the application of mathematics to issues of great economic importance. Above all, ICIAM 2003 will give you a comprehensive picture of our discipline as it is practised around the world.

Will the Congress engage the surrounding community? Absolutely! We have declared Wednesday, July 9, "Education Day" and Thursday, July 10, "Community Day." Education Day is designed specifically to meet the interests of high school mathematics teachers; the program for the day includes sessions on mathematical education and a Jobs Fair in the evening. Community Day will demonstrate the contributions of mathematics to our society; we are planning a variety of exhibitions and presentations, on themes that include "mathematics and technological development," "mathematics and art," and "mathematics and sport" (after all, Australians are sports crazy!).

Will the Congress be thoroughly international? Absolutely! We expect only 25% of our 2000 delegates to be from Australia.

Will the Congress be something delegates will enjoy? Well, we are doing our best! The venue is really very good, the arrangements are proceeding in a well-structured fashion, and there will be many opportunities to mingle with your mathematical siblings from around the world.

And, with no parallel to the case of my son, ICIAM will have a place for the fundamental mathematics that underpins the industrial and applied mathematics movement. One of our embedded meetings is the 6th Australian-New Zealand Mathematics Convention (actually the union of two meetings). This meeting will feature a number of minisymposia in diverse parts of pure mathematics, which will complement minisymposia organised under the ICIAM banner. Some of the minisymposia will be in areas with strong linkages to applied mathematics, but more traditional areas, such as algebra, analysis, and geometry, will also be well represented.

Our other embedded meetings (that is, meetings taking place within ICIAM 2003) are:

I hope I have transmitted some of my enthusiasm to you. By the time you receive this issue of SIAM News, it will be 35 weeks, or less, to the opening of the Congress; now is the time to make your plans. As carefully explained on the Web site, abstracts for minisymposia and contributed or poster presentations have deadlines of either October 31, 2002, or January 31, 2003. The all-important deadline for Early Bird registration is November 29.

As a proud part-parent of the industrial and applied mathematics movement, I warmly invite you to attend the 5th International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics, ICIAM 2003. For full details, check www.iciam.org.


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