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Atlantic connections

Memorial leading Atlantic Canadian mathematical collaboration


By Kelly Foss

Groups, Rings, Lie and Hopf Algebras.

If you’re a mathematician, the above-named collaborative research group at Memorial should catch your interest.

Dr. Yorck Sommerhauser
Dr. Yorck Sommerhäuser
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

The group, which was announced recently by the Atlantic Association for Research in the Mathematical Sciences (AARMS) and is administered by Dr. Yorck Sommerhäuser, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Science, began operations this month.

Common research interests

Collaborative research groups consist of university researchers with common research interests who wish to work together.

Members typically organize intensive workshops, share post-doctoral fellow appointments, co-ordinate graduate training programs, propose and assist in AARMS summer school programs, jointly supervise graduate students and carry out other activities supporting their research.

“Our goal is to improve connections between researchers in Atlantic Canada who work in algebra and related fields in pure mathematics and mathematical physics,” said Dr. Sommerhäuser. “For example, there are groups at Dalhousie doing research that is closely connected to what we are doing here at Memorial, but we have practically no interaction with them. I’d like to remedy that.”

Participants of an Atlantic Algebra Centre workshop at the Bonne Bay Marine Station on N.L.’s West Coast.
Photo: Submitted

Critical mass

One of the intentions behind collaborative research groups is that researchers with common research interests can benefit from sharing resources and co-ordinating activities.

As well, the groups offer young researchers a larger community for growing their research program. The critical mass achieved by collaborative research groups can also help the Atlantic provinces recruit and retain faculty in the mathematical sciences, attract post-doctoral fellows and offer enhanced graduate student training programs.

“A great share of Memorial’s international visibility in pure mathematics has been due to the centre.” — Dr. Yorck Sommerhäuser

Participants in Memorial’s newest collaborative research group will come from Dalhousie University, Saint Mary’s University and the University of New Brunswick, as well as some Canadian universities outside Atlantic Canada and international collaborators from Argentina, Germany, Great Britain, Spain and the U.S.

Excellent reputation

AARMS will provide up to $20,000 per year, for a maximum of two years, to fund the group.

“The new collaborative research group can build on the excellent reputation of the Atlantic Algebra Centre, a research centre at Memorial that has previously also been funded as a collaborative research group by AARMS,” said Dr. Sommerhäuser. “A great share of Memorial’s international visibility in pure mathematics has been due to the centre.”

Atlantic Algebra Centre workshop participants on an excursion to Brigus, N.L.
Photo: Submitted

For the last 13 years, the Atlantic Algebra Centre has organized international workshops and mini-courses on advanced mathematical topics, supported doctoral students as well as post-doctoral researchers, and has attracted world-leading scientists for short-term visits.

The centre and the collaborative research group will work closely together to enhance collaboration in the region and beyond, and to maintain and grow mathematical research in Atlantic Canada at the highest intellectual level.

Highly interconnected

Memorial’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics is also home to one of two groups currently funded by AARMS: Dynamical Systems and Spatial Models in Ecology, which is administrated by Dr. Amy Hurford.

Previously the department hosted Numerical Analysis and Scientific Computing, which is administered by Dr. Ronald Haynes, and Mathematical and Physical Aspects of Black Holes, co-administered by Dr. Ivan Booth with a researcher from the University of New Brunswick.

Viewed together, these groups show how broad the mathematical research at Memorial is.

“Many people think scientists are specialists for extremely narrow problems, but this is not how contemporary mathematics works,” said Dr. Sommerhäuser.

“Modern mathematical research is highly interconnected and brings together many different fields, from algebra and topology to functional analysis and differential equations. Today’s mathematicians have to not only be fluent in all these fields, but to be able to use them creatively in the question at hand. It’s quite a challenge. That’s where a collaborative research group can help. It’s important to be able to have this exchange of ideas so you can constantly broaden your horizon.”

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