Scientific Committee Meeting: September 2008


Minutes of the Scientific Committee of the BMC held in De Morgan House, London on Wednesday 24th September 2008.

Present: Peter Giblin (Chair), Alex Clark, Peter Cooper, Maurice Dodson, Charles Goldie, Cathy Hobbs, Ted Hurley, Jim Howie, John Hunton, Peter Kropholler, Hugh Morton, Edmund Robertson, James Ward, Chris Wood.
Membership of the committee as detailed on the Agenda was confirmed:
BMC 2009: TH, JW
BMC 2011: AC, JH
Elected at 2008 BMC: HM, Ex officio: PC.

Apologies for absence: Sandra Pott, Michael Singer

Minutes of the meeting of the Scientific Committee in York on 28th March 2008 (and matters arising not otherwise on the agenda:)Three corrections: "God"  to be replaced by "Gow"  and "Howells"  to be replaced by "Howls"  and "successsful"  to be replaced by "successful" .
The minutes were accepted.

BMC Historical Records: Edmund Robertson reported to the committee that lists of all Plenary and Morning Speakers as well as a list of Special Sessions since the 1st BMC were now available via the St Andrews History of Mathematics web site. Minutes of only 3 BMC Annual General Meetings (Bristol (1984), UMIST (1996) and Southampton (1999) are still being sought to load onto the web-site.
Charles Goldie inquired about the paper archive which had been in the LMS. Edmund Robertson informed the committee that it was in St. Andrews at the moment but would be returned to the LMS which is the repository. ER also informed the committee that it is planned to make the archive available on DVD.

Future BMCs: John Hunton informed the committee that a provisional holding of rooms from 18th to 21st April 2011 (the week leading to Easter) has been made. Planning is proceeding for the postgraduate conference. A 24-hour rate of £54.80 (dinner + B&B) has been quoted, in addition to lecture theatre hire etc. John Hunton to consult with Peter Giblin and Edmund Robertson about charges made and funding sources, particularly in relation to conference office charges and any VAT liability.

Peter Giblin informed the meeting about negotiations for 2012 with the University of Kent. Although the department is quite small, they are keen to host the BMC. A delegate day rate of £35 would include hire of meeting rooms, 2 servings of Fair Trade Tea or Coffee, Finger Buffet/Café Lunch and mineral water for speakers. The campus is not in the city centre.
Chris Wood pointed out that in York the day delegate rate of £67.50 was for residents (i.e. overnight stay), and that there was an extra charge for seminar rooms. For day visitors (e.g. from Leeds) there was a £50 registration fee for non resident members. There were approximately 100 to 150 residents/night on campus in York. Also York was in a difficult starting position having been quoted £21,000 for hire of rooms. Maurice Dodson and Chris Wood negotiated a much reduced figure for hire of rooms. Peter Kropholler thought that a lot would depend on Peter Fleischmann's enthusiasm for a BMC in Kent in 2012.

There had not been a BMC in the South-East of England for quite some time, despite heroic efforts on the part of Garth Dales to have a BMC organised in the London area. If it were not possible to have the 2012 meeting in Kent, a suggestion was made of inviting Imperial College to host it. But there are grounds for optimism in Kent for 2012.

Academic and Financial Reports on the York BMC 2008: A detailed report was presented by Maurice Dodson and Chris Woods. There were 230 participants, including 59 postgraduates (44M and 15F), 4 Plenary Lectures, 12 Morning Lectures and 3 Special Sessions (Number Theory, Differential Geometry and Geometric Analysis, Stochastic PDEs and Stochastic Analysis). There was a Public Lecture by Chris Budd and a
History of Mathematics Lecture by Edmund Robertson. There were 4 Special Events:

  1. An Interview with Walter Ledermann (Charles Goldie)

  2. Forum on the future of the LMS and IMA (Brian Davies & David

  3. Isaac Newton Institute Presentation (Sir David Wallace)

  4. MSOR Network Presentation (Michael Grove and Joseph Kyle)

There were 9 Splinter Groups and a total of 68 contributed talks thereto.
There were 2 Satellite Meetings, one on Functional Analysis (March 25th) and one on Semigroups (March 28th). The Postgraduate Conference was organised by James Grime.

A detailed Financial Report was made available by Maurice and Chris, the upshot being that the conference broke even.

The registration fee of £50 was reduced to £30 for postgraduates. An independent company did the conference web-site and participants paid on line. The organisers paid a very favourable rate of £1,000 to the company to do all this administration. Transaction fees were just 2%.
Overall income was £11,600 from registration fees, EPSRC and the Edinburgh Mathematical Society. Expenditure was £18,900, which deficit was met from the LMS grant of £10,000 (including £2,000 for Special Sessions), the surplus being returned to the LMS.

In the ensuing discussion it was felt that £1,200 might be more appropriate per Special Session, and perhaps the Programme Committeee of the LMS might consider this and also slightly more flexible use of the LMS grant, in that hitherto no expenses have been paid to morning speakers so perhaps a small sum (£50 per speaker?) might be allocated for that purpose in future.

As a marketing strategy it was though better to offer a reduced early registration fee rather than a higher late registration fee!

Peter Giblin has figures from Publishers and can advise on what sum might be sought from publishers ( €500?). Maurice and Chris alluded to other problems e.g. a corkage charge sought for the publishers' reception.

Upon a proposal from the Chair, and adopted by acclamation, congratulations to York on hosting a very successful conference was minuted by the Secretary.

Plans for Galway 6-9 April 2009:
Ted Hurley told the committee that he had tried to contact the on line conference company used by York, but had not received a reply in time, so that the Galway organisers had asked others in the department in Galway together with a Postgraduate student to set up a web-site and that the home page may
be available by the end of this month or early in October.

TH informed the committee that the lecture rooms had been booked (he had got a 50% reduction from the conference office in Galway), there would be facilities for paying by credit card on-line. He had secured a rate from the Clybaun Hotel of €55 per single and €74 for a double (including breakfast) and that 80 rooms had been reserved. Although the hotel is 3 Km from the campus there would be a bus service in the morning to ferry delegates to the conference and another in the evening to bring the delegates back to the hotel. There is an infrequent public bus service from outside the hotel (for late risers!). The conference dinner will be in the hotel on Wednesday evening.

Regarding the academic programme James Ward told the committee that all 5 Plenary Speakers had accepted the invitation (D. Eisenbud, R. Graham, B. Green, R. Grigorchuk and F. Kirwan) and that 10 Morning Speakers had accepted invitations (J. Berndt, T. Carbery, R. Gow, T. Laffey, M. Mathieu, E. O'Brien, L. Olsen, H. Osinga, R. Twarock and D. Welsh). A further 2 morning speakers would be added to the programme.
There will be a postgraduate conference on the Monday morning with a poster session on Monday and also on Tuesday afternoon if delegates wish to discuss their work with others. The organisers may be able to sponsor prizes for the best posters. It is very helpful if one can get Splinter Group organisers to be pro-active in soliciting contributed talks, e.g. Tony Mann for History of Mathematics.

Regarding a Public Lecture the Galway organisers are still working on that. It was pointed out that publicity is crucial, and it is better to have free but ticketed entry to the Public Lecture, with applications for tickets in advance. No Special Event has been arranged yet. (Darwin year in 2009).
Regarding funding, there is up to £10,000 from the LMS, €2000 from the Irish Mathematical Society and €1000 from NUI, Galway Millennium fund. In addition Ted Hurley hopes to get funding from Science Foundation Ireland. The organisers will contact EPSRC regarding possible funding for UK postgraduates to attend the BMC in Galway.

Plans for Edinburgh 6-9th April 2010:
Jim Howie advised the committee on the arrangements to date. Lectures would be in the George Square of Edinburgh University (lecture theatre capacity of 500). Accommodation would be around 10 minutes walk from the conference area. Regarding administration, ICMS would assist as they are very experienced in these matters. A document regarding the 2010 BMC in Edinburgh was circulated: the Plenary Speakers who have accepted invitations are C. Hacon, J. Lagarias, M. Mirzakhani, G. Staffilani and M. Zworski. It also contained topics for Special Sessions of which Semigroups, Automata and Formal Languages and Combinatorial/Geometric Group Theory were considered the most promising. JH said there was a lot of local interest across Pure/Applied Mathematics and Statistics. A provisional timetable would look like a BMC to its audience and like a BAMC to its audience. Finances would be done jointly. There would be a Plenary Lecture as the final daily sessions rather than immediately after lunch.

The name of Sela Zlil was mentioned as a possible Plenary Speaker.

A.O.B.: None.

Date of next meeting: The next meeting of the committee will be after the AGM of the 2009 BMC, thus after the last talk on Wednesday afternoon, April 8th. It will finish before the Conference Dinner, or else be adjourned and will be reconvened at lunchtime on Thursday 9th April, 2009.

The meeting concluded at 2.40 P. M.