Australia Postgraduate Algebra Colloquium: Expressions of Interest open

This year will be the inaugural year of the Australian Postgraduate Algebra Colloquium (APAC). The colloquium will primarily function as a series of online seminars throughout 2022. The colloquium aims to connect postgraduate and advanced undergraduate students based in Australia who study and/or do research in topics relating to algebra or representation theory. We will also be building an online community around the seminars which will foster communication and collaboration between students. Please see the APAC website for more details and to sign up to the mailing list: www.apacmath.org.

We are currently seeking expressions of interest from students who would like to speak at an APAC seminar in 2022. EOI’s for giving a talk in the first half of 2022 close on the 13th February at 11:59pm. To sign up to the APAC mailing list and/or express interest in giving a talk at an APAC seminar, please fill out this form. Undergraduate students are also strongly encouraged to get involved and give a talk.

You can also keep up to date with us on Facebook.

Best regards,
The APAC Organisers

Meet Professor Jessica Purcell: the Society’s Incoming President

As announced yesterday, Prof. Jessica Purcell has been appointed the new Incoming President. I took the opportunity to pose some questions to her. -Ed

1. When did you decide that mathematics was going to be your career, and what attracted you to the field?

I really liked mathematics classes through high school and university. I liked the logic, the pictures, the puzzles, and I liked understanding how deeper mathematics works and why. At various points in life, I decided that I liked mathematics enough to keep trying for new opportunities: postgraduate study, postdoctoral programs, continuing positions. I’m grateful to have received enough opportunities to make a career!  

2. What do you think is the most important issue facing the Society at present?

In my mind, the most important issues concern promoting mathematical sciences, and representing mathematicians. Mathematics is important. It contributes to science, medicine, engineering, and is an important human endeavour on its own. It has been disheartening to see a weakening of some Australian university mathematics departments in the last two years, which affects the careers of current and upcoming mathematicians, and diminishes our ability to train students and high school teachers. Access to mathematics should not only be for the wealthy and well-connected. On the positive side, the Society is full of outstanding mathematicians who are contributing significantly to Australia and to the field, and it has many friends who love mathematics and support our aims. I think the future of mathematics is bright. 

3. Where would you like the Society to be in 5 years’ time? Or perhaps 10 years’?

I would like the Society to be larger and more diverse. I would love to see more of our PhD students and early career researchers staying on as fully active Society members even when their careers take them outside of academia. I’d like to see more gender diversity, more racial diversity, more willingness to learn from each other across different fields. 

4. What is one mathematical fact or idea you would wish the broader public to know?

I am a big believer in knot theory for the broader public. The field of knot theory encapsules the beauty, the puzzles, and the depth of mathematics, with cool pictures. Knots for the greater good!

Prof. Jessica Purcell

Meet Professor Aidan Sims: the Society’s new Vice-President

As announced yesterday, Prof. Aidan Sims has been appointed the new VP. I took the opportunity to pose some questions to him. -Ed

1.       When did you decide that mathematics was going to be your career, and what attracted you to the field?

It was towards the end of my undergraduate degree. I did a combined degree in maths and computer science. I thought I was going to be a coder/developer, and that there weren’t many jobs for mathematicians. Wrong on both counts! Somewhere around the end of my third year I realised that I really wasn’t a very good coder at all, and that the bit of it all that I really loved was the process of chipping away at the edges of mathematical problem, turning it over and looking at it from all directions, until my brain started to build a picture of what was going on that led me to a solution. Especially doing that collaboratively – bouncing ideas back and forth until understanding emerges. I still love it.

2.       What do you think is the most important issue facing the Society at present?

Equity, diversity and inclusivity. Not just gender equity and diversity. Equity and diversity as a multi-dimensional idea – there are so many different axes of diversity, and 2ⁿ (well, more aptly, the cardinality of a product) grows fast. Maybe if we get better at thinking of it that way, it’ll be harder for anyone to believe that their privileges are somehow the product of being in some imagined natural majority, as opposed to a product of inherited privilege and biased systems. Mathematics is for all.

3.       Where would you like the Society to be in 5 years’ time? Or perhaps 10 years’?

I’d like to see the Society more engaged with the world outside academia. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a mathematical society; but there is plenty of mathematics outside academia. I’d like to see us adjust our view of what makes someone a mathematician. If someone thinks mathematically, if they use mathematical training and thinking in what they do, they’re a mathematician. They might be a mathematician who is a teacher; a mathematician who is a public servant or a politician; a mathematician who is an artist or entertainer; or an entrepreneur or businessperson. All these mathematicians have plenty to offer the Society and we should try to connect with them more. 

4.       What is one mathematical fact or idea you would wish the broader public to know?

That statistics is complicated and that our brains don’t really have good intuition about probability, randomness, and patterns. Our brains have evolved to try to see patterns in the available data. But if you run enough random-number generators for few enough iterations (or measure enough independent variables over a small enough sample), at least one pair of them will be very highly correlated. I wish that more people knew this – knew what questions to ask themselves about the numerical/statistical data they’re presented with – and knew just how much it affects what we see and read in news and social media. In a nutshell, I wish everyone thought that this xkcd comic https://xkcd.com/882/ is as funny as I do.

Prof. Aidan Sims

Update on AustMS2021 emails

Mimecast at many universities is blocking emails from the AustMS21 registration system. This ranges from annoying to catastrophic (e.g. when password reset emails get blocked).

There is something people can do, however: they can log on to the Mimecast portal at https://login-au.mimecast.com/u/login/#/login with their university email. There, they can release held messages and permit certain addresses (such as austms21@mathematics.org.au) and domains. This might be useful well beyond just receiving emails from the Conference registration system.

Best regards,

Florian (AustMS2021 conference director)

The Logic Summer School @ ANU

An upcoming virtual event, 6-17 December 2021.

Website: http://lss.cecs.anu.edu.au

The School of Computing in the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science will host the Logic Summer School from 6 to 17 December 2021. The Summer School will consist of short courses on aspects of pure and applied logic taught by experts from Australia and overseas, and be held virtually. 

Modern logic is the foundational discipline of the information sciences. It includes not only the science of reasoning but also computability theory, type theory and other tools for understanding processes, declarative programming, automatic proof generation, program verification and much more. It spreads into planning, into program synthesis, into circuit design and into discourse analysis. It underpins the entire science of artificial intelligence. Part mathematics, part philosophy and these days part computing science, logic remains a core intellectual study and is increasingly relevant to practical concerns.

We are excited to present a variety of courses: starting with introductory courses in the first week to advanced courses in the second, featuring topics from foundations to application, including program verification, cryptography and higher-order type theory.
The lectures are given by academics from several institutes and include Kirsten Winter (DSTG/UQ), David J. Pearce (VUW), Rob van Glabbeek (Data61/UNSW), Thomas Haines (ANU), Taichi Uemura (Stockholm U) and John Slaney (ANU).
Check our website for more details on the program and registration procedure: http://lss.cecs.anu.edu.au.

Due to ongoing travel restrictions the school will be held virtually, allowing everybody to join. 
Moreover, this year the school is 
free of charge 
for students and academics. 

* Deadline for registration: December 1, 2021

Questions? E-mail peter.hoefner@anu.edu.au

Knot Days: Virtual summer school, 15-19 November 2021

The workshop will have three mini-classes, each with lectures and problem sessions.

(1) Introduction to Legendrian Knot Theory (Joan Licata, ANU) 

This class will be broadly accessible, requiring no background in topology. We’ll introduce the basics of general knot theory (diagrams, Reidemeister moves, invariants) alongside features specific to the knot theory in contact three-manifolds.

(2) Character Varieties, A-polynomials and Knots (Stephan Tillmann, Sydney)

Many properties that allow us to distinguish and study knots are not properties of the knot, but rather of the complement of a knot. This three-dimensional space may appear less tangible than the actual knot, but allows the definition of algebraic invariants that encode information about the knot and its complement. This series of lectures focuses on invariants arising from algebraic geometry. These can be used to detect interesting surfaces spanned by knots, to recognise whether a knot is in fact knotted, and to determine whether a knot complement has a geometric structure of constant negative curvature.

These lectures will provide an overview over the main aspects of what is broadly known as Culler-Shalen theory, and describe some key applications. The techniques mix ideas from group theory, algebraic geometry and geometric topology. The level of detail given will depend on the background and interest of the audience.

(3) Jones Polynomial and Volume Conjectures (Dan Mathews, Monash)

Knots can be studied from some very different perspectives, but there are some deep conjectures that unify these perspectives. In this series of lectures we will discuss some of these different perspectives and two of the major conjectures connecting them: the volume conjecture and the AJ conjecture.

Starting from the Jones polynomial, we’ll give an overview of the broad range of ideas around these conjectures, including coloured Jones polynomials, quantum invariants, q-holonomicity, hyperbolic geometry, and skein algebras. No background will be assumed, but some knowledge of abstract algebra will be useful.

See the website for registration and more details.

Open letter to CEO of the Australian Research Council: Concerns about new ARC “no preprint rule”

(A pdf version of this letter is available here)

24 August 2021

Professor Sue Thomas
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Research Council

Dear Professor Thomas,

The Australian Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry, Mathematics and Statistics communities express grave concern about a recent change to Australian Research Council (ARC) rules to forbid reference to preprints anywhere in a grant application. We are particularly concerned about the impact on early career researchers whose ARC fellowship applications have recently been ruled ineligible because of a violation of this new rule.

We are not aware of any consultation with our scientific communities about this change. We urge the ARC to rescind this rule, as it is unworkable and inconsistent with standard practice in our disciplines.

Preprints are vital for the rapid dissemination of knowledge in physics, astronomy, chemistry, mathematics and statistics. This is particularly important in fields where there is a long lead-time between journal submission and publication. Citing preprints in publications, reports, or grant applications is an entrenched disciplinary norm in these fields. Experts and referees who encounter such citations know that preprints are not peer reviewed and are experienced in assigning them appropriate weight.

Preprint servers are also used to store other important scientific documents including white papers, PhD theses, software and instruction manuals, experimental design reports, and other technical documents. Although never intended for publication in a regular journal, it is common for such documents to be definitive references on certain topics and cited many hundreds of times.

Forbidding references to preprints prevents applicants from giving appropriate credit to the authors of ideas that informed their proposal. This constitutes academic misconduct. Doing so is contrary to the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research 2018, which requires researchers to both “Present information truthfully and accurately in proposing … research” (Principle 1) and “Appropriately reference and cite the work of others” (Principle 4).

Preprint servers, such as the physical sciences arXiv server, pioneered the development of open access publishing. They are an established part of the publishing landscape. Their use is fully consistent with the ARC Open Access Policy.

Major science funding agencies around the world permit or encourage preprints to be cited in grant proposals and funding reports. This includes the US funding agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the European Research Council (ERC), the French National Research Agency (ANR) and the UK funding agencies for Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPSRC), Biological Sciences (BBSRC) and Medical Sciences (MRC).

We are dismayed that promising research careers have been impacted and perhaps even ended because fellowship applicants cited preprints and other documents housed on preprint servers. We encourage the ARC to explore avenues to support the researchers affected.

We strongly recommend the ARC reverse its rule change as a matter of urgency, and permit authors to cite any relevant material in accordance with disciplinary conventions. We further recommend that any future proposed changes that represent a significant departure from disciplinary norms be subject to wider consultation with researchers and peak scientific bodies.

Yours sincerely,


Professor Sven Rogge, President, Australian Institute of Physics (AIP)
Professor Steven Bottle, President, Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI)
Professor John Lattanzio, President, Astronomical Society of Australia (ASA)
Professor Ole Warnaar, President, Australian Mathematical Society (AustMS)
A/Professor Jessica Kasza, President, Statistical Society of Australia (SSA)
A/Professor John Holdsworth, President, Australian and New Zealand Optical Society (ANZOS)
Professor Anthony Dooley, Chair, Australian Council of Heads of Mathematical Sciences (ACHMS)
Professor Tim Marchant, Director, Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI)

Professor Brian P Schmidt AC FAA FRS, ANU Distinguished Professor, 2011 Nobel Laureate

Professor Harry Quiney, Head, School of Physics, The University of Melbourne
Professor Celine Boehm, Head, School of Physics, The University of Sydney
Professor Tim Senden, Director, Research School of Physics, The Australian National University
Professor Michael Morgan, Head, School of Physics and Astronomy, Monash University
Professor Susan Coppersmith, Head, School of Physics, University of New South Wales Sydney
Professor Peter Veitch, Head, School of Physical Sciences, The University of Adelaide
Professor Jingbo Wang, Head, Department of Physics, The University of Western Australia
Professor Igor Bray, Head, Physics and Astronomy, Curtin University
Professor Geoff Pryde, Head, Applied Maths and Physics, Griffith University
Professor David Spence, Interim Head, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Macquarie University
Professor Jamie Quinton, Head of Physics and Dean of Science, Flinders University
Professor Gary Bryant, Associate Dean (Physics), RMIT University
Professor John-David Dewsbury, Head, School of Science, UNSW Canberra
Dr Brenton Hall, Chair of Department of Physics and Astronomy, Swinburne University

Professor Scott Kable, Head, School of Chemistry, University of New South Wales Sydney
Professor Philip Gale, Head, School of Chemistry, The University of Sydney
Professor Richard O’Hair, Head, School of Chemistry, The University of Melbourne
Professor Phil Andrews, Head, School of Chemistry, Monash University
Professor Chris Sumby, Head of Chemistry, The University of Adelaide
Professor Alison Rodger, Head, School of Chemistry, Macquarie University
A/Professor David Wilson, Head, Department of Chemistry and Physics, La Trobe University
A/Professor Jennifer MacLeod, Head, School of Chemistry and Physics, Queensland U. of Technology
Professor Catherine Yule, Head, School of Science, Technology & Engineering, U. of the Sunshine Coast
A/Professor Andrew Seen, Head of Chemistry, University of Tasmania
Professor Richard John, Head of Chemistry, Griffith University

Professor Howard Bondell, Head, School of Mathematics and Statistics, The University of Melbourne
Professor Joseph Grotowski, Head, School of Mathematics and Physics, The University of Queensland
Professor Adelle Coster, Head, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of New South Wales
Professor Warwick Tucker, Head, School of Mathematics, Monash University
Professor Andrew Hassell, Interim Director, Mathematical Sciences Institute, ANU
Professor Andrew Bassom, Head of Discipline, Mathematics, University of Tasmania
Dr Maureen Edwards, Head, School of Mathematics and Applied Statistics, University of Wollongong
Dr Christopher Lenard, Head of Department of Mathematics and Statistics, La Trobe University
Professor Alan Welsh, Chair, National Committee for Mathematical Sciences

Professor Dragomir Neshev, ANU, Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Transformative Meta-Optical Systems (TMOS)
Professor Matthew Bailes, Swinburne University of Technology, Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav)
Professor Elisabetta Barberio, The University of Melbourne, Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics
Professor Lisa Kewley, Australian National University, Director, ARC Centre for Excellence in All-Sky Astrophysics in 3D (ASTRO 3D)
Professor Paul Mulvaney, The University of Melbourne, Director, ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science
Professor Peter Taylor, University of Melbourne, Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers (ACEMS)
Professor Michael Fuhrer, Monash University, Director, ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technology (FLEET)
Professor Andrew White, The University of Queensland, Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS)

Abel Prize: call for nominations

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters hereby calls for nominations of candidates for the Abel Prize 2021.

The Abel Prize recognizes outstanding scientific work in the field of mathematics, including mathematical aspects of computer science, mathematical physics, probability, numerical analysis and scientific computing, statistics and applications of mathematics in the sciences.

The Abel Prize amounts to NOK 7,5 million.

The Abel Prize may be awarded to one single person, or shared for closely related fundamental contributions. The first instalment of the Abel Prize was in 2003. For laureates up until 2021, please consult www.abelprize.no

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters awards the Abel Prize on the basis of a recommendation from the Academy’s Abel Committee, chaired by an Academy member and consisting of four further members elected amongst names put forward by the International Mathematical Union and the European Mathematical Society. The Abel Committee receives all nominations and may itself nominate candidates for the Abel Prize. The name of the Abel Laureate will be announced in March 2022. The award ceremony will take place in Oslo in May 2022.

We hereby invite you (or your society or institution) to nominate candidate(s) for the Abel Prize. Your nomination should be accompanied by a description of the work and impact of the nominee/nominees, together with names of distinguished specialists in the field of the nominee/nominees who can be contacted for an independent opinion. When nominating it is a requirement to take into account that the nominee has adhered to general guidelines for research ethics.

Your letter of nomination should be sent no later than September 15, 2021.

For further information and the nomination form, please consult http://www.abelprize.no/c53676/artikkel/vis.html?tid=53705

Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine course on disease modelling

The AITHM is running a short course on infectious disease modelling. Please circulate the below information and attached flyer to your networks, for any interested students and other parties.

What: Winter Short Course – Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases
Date: 19th to 23rd July 2021
Location: Online and Townsville (great place to be in winter!)
Who for: Aimed at participants with a basic understanding of infectious disease modelling and some basic programming skills
Who by: The Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University are running a short course
Duration: 5 days
Cost: $880, though there are up to 10 scholarships available.

For more information please see the attached flyer.

All applicants should contact the course organisers via email to express interest in attending either in person or online.

Applications submitted to: this email address
EOI deadline: 10th June 2021
Payment deadline: 30th June 2021

Community Petition Against University of Newcastle Job Cuts

The University of Newcastle has announced a major restructuring of the university that will affect hundreds of staff. If plans proceed unchanged, Mathematics and Statistics will be severely impacted with a large number of staff losing their position at the university. I call on all members of the Society to support their colleagues at Newcastle and sign the petition here.

S. Ole Warnaar, President of AustMS