A Note from Argentina

September 18, 2011

Representing SIAM at the third annual conference of the lively Argentine Section, former SIAM president Gil Strang found convincing evidence of the value of international connections for countries in Latin America and beyond.
In this short note I focus on two points. The first is the creation of the section (in 2006). Applied mathematicians in Argentina needed their own organization, independent from the established mathematics societies. It is very common, and entirely understandable, that all of our work is classified as just one topic in the programs of the math societies. With the rapid growth of new applications, the work to be presented has burst those limits. Open space in the AR–SIAM programs is quickly filled!

I believe that applied mathematicians in other Latin American countries, and elsewhere in the world, have the same need. The value of an international connection is clear (and SIAM has become totally international). The process of organizing a new section is straightforward. A few friends from SIAM, working with their local counterparts, can make it happen.

My second point is about the program itself. I noticed that optimization was well represented. "Recommender systems" are developing quickly, following the widely publicized Netflix contest. Matching job applications to jobs has been a random process with erratic results. The Internet makes this matching (and so many others) more mathematical and better informed. So much to learn!

The president of the section, Ruben Spies, was a superb host. Diana Rubio (the section's secretary) met my flight from Boston; this was the beginning of a whirlwind visit to Buenos Aires, with Pablo Jacovskis (second vice chair) as guide. The feeling of the whole conference, with students and faculty arriving from all over Argentina (and Venezuela and from as far as Romania), was SIAM at its best.---Gilbert Strang, MIT.

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