Report to the LMS: September 2003

Report on the Scientific Committee of the British Mathematical Colloquium to the LMS

  1. A meeting of the Committee took place at the Birmingham BMC, on 8th April. This was my last participation on the committee before my term of office ended on 31st May 2003. I understand my replacement is Caroline Series.

  2. BMC 2004:
    As usual, the main item of business at the April Meeting was the programme for the next BMC, at Belfast from 5-8 April 2004. My impression is that the small department at Queen's Belfast is pulling out all the stops to ensure a successful BMC. In addition to LMS funding, they are getting some financial support from the Irish Mathematical Society (2000 Euros) and it is likely that a good number of mathematicians will attend from Ireland. It seems to me very important - not least from the point of view of future UK-Irish mathematical relations - that there is a strong turnout at the Belfast BMC from UK mainland mathematicians.

  3. Financial arrangements:
    An important issue which, as LMS Council will doubtless be aware, exercised the Scientific Committee in the lead-up to the April meeting and during it is the question of how BMC funds should be held. A previous (more or less informal) arrangement with the Edinburgh Math. Society appears no longer to be an option, and the meeting on 8th April considered a draft Memorandum between the BMC Scientific Committee and the LMS, under which the LMS would promise general support for the BMC and would hold the BMC's surplus on its behalf. After considerable discussion no decision on this was made, pending legal advice. The fundamental problem is that it appears possible that any agreement which implicitly or explicitly recognises the BMC as a continuing entity may make the BMC liable for payment of VAT. It is intended to return to this issue at the next meeting of the Scientific Committee.

  4. Costs of meetings:
    An increasingly important problem for the annual BMC meetings is the cost of accommodation for participants. At Warwick very high charges were imposed, leading to the financial difficulties experienced by the Warwick BMC. For Belfast Garth Dales, Chair of the Scientific Committee, has been instrumental in negotiating a very reasonable deal on the charges for accommodation and for lecture rooms. But LMS Council should be aware that many universities no longer make a special case for academically worthwhile meetings and regard the hosting of conferences as a purely commercial enterprise. This is a problem which is likely to get worse in the future.

  5. Joint meeting with the BAMC:
    The first Joint meeting was the Warwick one in 2002. The meeting at Liverpool will also be a joint one (with a somewhat different format to the Warwick one, parallel rather than series). The Chair of the Scientific Committee will meet with representatives of the BAMC on 21st January 2004 to discuss future plans. He would welcome any comments which members of LMS Council (whether collectively or individually) might have about future joint meetings.

  6. Future meetings:
    As well as Liverpool in 2005, the 2006 meeting is fixed for Newcastle. At present hosts are being sought for a (normal) BMC meeting in 2007, and for a possible joint meeting in 2008. It is proving difficult to find these hosts - 3 places have already said no, although at the time of writing negotiations are ongoing with a fourth institution. Of course any volunteering by (the departments of) members of Council would be very welcome!

  7. BMC archives:
    The LMS has agreed to act as the archivist for the BMC. Anyone with relevant documents is asked to forward them to Garth Dales.

  8. Next meeting of the Scientific Committee:
    This will be at De Morgan House on 22nd January 2004.

Ken Brown

BMC - Members of the Scientific Committee Meeting in Birmingham

Chairman: H G Dales (Leeds), until AGM in 2005

Elected by the BMC: to be elected, until AGM in 2004

Three nominees of the LMS:

K Brown (Glasgow) to 31 December 2003
J Greenlees (Sheffield) to 31 December 2004
H Robinson (Coventry) to 31 December 2005.

Two nominees of the EMS:

M Weiss (Aberdeen) to 31 December 2003
G Jameson (Lancaster) to 31 December 2004

Terms of office to be arranged.

Representatives of future BMCs:

Birmingham 2003: R Curtis (Chairman) to 31 May 2003
C Parker (Secretary) to 31 May 2003

Belfast 2004: D Armitage (Chairman) to 31 May2004
M Mathieu (Secretary) to 31 May2004

Liverpool 2005: P Giblin to 31 May 2005
H Morton to 31 May 2005