Manchester Hosts 2011 UKIE Section Meeting

April 6, 2011

David Silvester of the University of Manchester, current president of the SIAM UKIE Section.
The SIAM UK & Republic of Ireland Section is a large and diverse organisation, consisting of the 481 SIAM members in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, 233 of whom are students. On January 7, 2011, the SIAM UKIE Section held its 14th annual meeting at the University of Manchester. In many ways the section was returning to its roots---it was in Manchester, at the then University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, that the first annual meeting took place in 1997. Indeed, David Silvester of the University of Manchester, our current section president, together with Andy Wathen (University of Oxford), initiated the founding of the section in 1996/97.

The aim of the annual meeting has not changed much since then. It continues to be a focal point for SIAM members in the UK and the Republic of Ireland and a showcase for the wide-ranging activities in applied and numerical mathematics across the UK and Ireland. The 2011 meeting drew 58 participants---a demonstration that the meetings are still highly attractive despite the early-January date. But it is not only the meeting that remains attractive: Since 1997, the number of SIAM members in the UK & Republic of Ireland has more than doubled.

This year we again had a diverse range of high-profile speakers, among them the incoming SIAM president, Nick Trefethen of the University of Oxford. He was not the first SIAM president to participate, but he was the first who could get to the meeting with a simple train ride, around 3.5 hours from Oxford if there is no snow. He opened the meeting with a beautiful talk in which he used classical ideas from linear algebra, such as least-squares methods and the singular value decomposition, to develop a robust algorithm for the notoriously hard numerical problem of finding rational interpolants of functions on the unit disk.

The day continued with fascinating talks by Peter Jimack of Leeds University (on novel developments in refinement strategies for hp finite elements), Beatrice Pelloni of the University of Reading (on intriguing connections between generalizations of Fourier representations, the Riemann–Hilbert problem, and the solvability of certain boundary value problems), and Volker Mehrmann of TU Berlin (on recent progress in computing stability exponents for constrained dynamical systems).

The late afternoon was reserved for two talks highlighting the close interplay between cutting-edge developments in applied and numerical mathematics and their applications to important real-world problems. In a talk on solution of the inverse problem in nonlinear tomography, Simon Arridge of University College London presented new approaches for taking modelling errors into account; he showed many examples arising in medical imaging problems. Concluding the day, Mark Panitz of BAE Systems discussed the modelling of electromagnetic performance of large structures and the challenges that practitioners face when applying mathematical tools to very large industrial problems. Rounding out the meeting, a poster session for PhD students ran throughout the day.

An important goal of SIAM UKIE is to promote the creation of SIAM student chapters in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, adding to the existing three in Oxford, Manchester, and Edinburgh. All three chapters so far are a great success; the student conference of the Oxford chapter, for example, was scheduled for February 9 and already had 120 registered participants. Students from the Manchester chapter gave a presentation at the section meeting, advertising the benefits of SIAM student chapters for universities and their maths undergraduate and graduate students. We certainly hope that students and faculty at many other institutions will take the opportunity to create chapters in the coming years.

The next annual meeting of the SIAM UKIE Section will be held in January 2012 at the University of Leicester.---Timo Betcke, University of Reading.

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