Participant Testimonials

Nov 16 - Nov 21, 2014

This workshop was one of the best conferences I've been at; I have met many previous and current (and future) collaborators, and it was invaluable to talk to them all at the same place.

Heiko Dietrich School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University

This workshop had a significant impact on my ongoing research. I had various highly interesting discussions with colleagues that resulted in new ideas for research projects and, in the long run, will very likely result in new publications. The workshop also yielded an excellent opportunity for some younger researchers to present themselves and hence was very interesting also from this viewpoint. Furthermore, during the workshop there were not only various very well-presented and interesting lectures, but also several open discussions that resulted in new directions for the research of the overall research community in this field.

Bettina Eick Professor
Mathematics, Technische Universität Braunschweig

This workshop featured leading researchers currently active in computational group theory concerned especially with matrix groups, over finite and infinite fields. The formal programme of talks was uniformly excellent. We learnt of several interesting new results with direct impact on our own research. Joint work was fruitfully undertaken.

Dane Flannery Mathematics, National University of Ireland, Galway (Ireland)

The conference was very successful, and I am grateful to everyone who made it happen. One consequence of the conference has been that we have organised the translation of a major piece of software that some of us have been working on for twenty five years to be translated into a second language. This translation is very necessary, and requires the co-operation of the whole of our mathematical community; so the BIRS conference played a decisive role.

Charles Leedham-Green Queen Mary College London

I was able to gain insights and feedback from my colleagues that is only possible in a workshop such as this. My participation here has saved me months of research and catapulted several of my projects forward.

Kay Magaard Mathematics, University Birmingham

I enjoyed the workshop very much. I flew from Australia to Banff for just this week and it really has been worth while. On the one hand, the community was able to make substantial plans for the future and it was great to be involved in these. On the other hand I made some new research connections by discussing mathematical questions that arose from my talk with some of the people present. With one of these we immediately struck up a collaboration and worked all Friday afternoon while waiting for the bus. Thank you so much for inviting me and allowing me to take part in the workshop and for the wonderful atmosphere provided by BIRS. It is much appreciated.

Alice Niemeyer Centre for the Mathematics of Symmetry and Computation, The University of Western Australia

I truly appreciated being part of this excellent meeting. I learnt a lot from the talks, and also had time to talk with many colleagues. I felt honoured to give a talk on the Akos Seress day in memory of my close colleague Akos - it allowed me to present the contact of a major part of his research over the last 5 years of his life, culminating in his joint paper completed by Sukru Yalcinkaya and I, published just the week before the conference. Here is a short snapshot of some interactions: Discussions of revisions of a paper with my former student Brian Corr, now a new postdoc in Brazil – and discussions of how he could complete his work on recognizing classical d-dimensional groups represented in dimension up to d^2; Extensive discussions with Csaba Schneider on our forthcoming book on permutation groups; Planning a research project on involution-centralizer construction in classical groups with Colva Roney-Dougal. (She will visit me in Perth in January.); Trying again, with Alice Niemeyer and Tobias Rossmann, to prove that “collection to the left” in p-groups has exponentially complexity; and Discussion with Dane Flannery of progress with publishing a memorial issue of the Journal of the Australian Mathematical Society in memory of L. G. (Laci) Kovacs. Again, may I say how much I appreciate the hospitality of BIRS and the great facilities that promote these interactions.

Cheryl Praeger School of Mathematics and Statistics (M019), The University of Western Australia

This was an outstanding workshop. Whilst there I made substantial progress on an on-going research project, initiated a new international research collaboration, submitted a grant proposal jointly with one of the other participants, and had preliminary discussions with another participant (with whom I’ve never worked before) about a further possible grant proposal.

Colva Roney-Dougal Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews

When I was invited to take part in this BIRS workshop last year my initial reaction was to say no. Although I remain mathematically active, I have been retired since the early 2000s and I was not sure that I could make a worthwhile contribution. On reconsideration I decided that organizers knew more than I did and I accepted. I am glad I did this. It was a wonderful week. True, the median age of participants was closer to 30 or 40, but I knew many of the participants--mainly by correspondence--and the way in which BIRS is organized makes the day by day informal meetings an excellent way to get to know so many of the other participants. Much of my professional life has been connected one way or another with linear groups and computation, and the lectures during the week were of a high standard. It was clear that the organizers had put a great deal of work into selecting the participants including many very bright young people and a good proportion of women. Talks would often end in vigorous discussions about what had been said and where one might go from there. I made new friends and renewed some old friendships. It was a great chance to meet mathematicians whom I had corresponded with or only knew by name. I was able to discuss face to face some research problems which I have been working on, and returned home with note books of new problems. Since coming home I have been working on a problem posed by Cheryl Praeger which arose in her work with Akos Seress, and made some progress on this. We are currently in correspondence about this problem. The untimely death of Akos is a real regret for many of us who knew him. My experience persuades me that BIRS is a wonderful facility which provides excellent support for workshops of this nature. In the past I have been to Oberwolfach which provides similar facilities in workshops for small groups and has long been well known for its important role in stimulating mathematical research. I think that BIRS is playing a similar role in North America and Canadians should be proud that Canada is host to BIRS and its unique facilities.

John Dixon University of Alberta

Once again my time there was productive. It saw the completion of a research project with Martin Kassabov (participant) surrounding a question raised some 50 years ago. It also gave critical feedback on the most important aspects of my student Josh Maglione's (participant) work which will help him focus his ideas in the last stage of his research. Finally, this time I felt the impact of the video taped lectures even while I was there. I was able to direct Gene Luks, and emeritus member of the same research community, to lectures on which he was able to provide distinct feedback despite being absent from the conference himself. I look forward to a future visit, if invited I would reflexively accept based on how productive my previous visits have been.

James Wilson Mathematics, Colorado State University