Entrance hall of the ICMSComplex networks and Emerging Applications, March 2016

During the week 28 March-01 April, ICMS hosted 31 delegates at the Complex Networks and Emerging Applications workshop. 

The development of network science in the last few decades has taken place across a number of disciplines, including mathematics, statistics, physics, computer science and engineering. This workshop brought together researchers from different areas of both theory and application to exchange ideas and learn about advances and open problems in the other disciplines.  The workshop had a number of survey talks addressing the most recent developments, open problem sessions and lots of opportunities for the delegates to interact and discuss each other’s research.  This workshop is part of the EPSRC-DST Indo-UK Initiative in Applied Mathematics and had organisers from the UK and India. 


Delegates at Complex Networks Workshop

Delegates at the Complex Networks and Emerging Applications workshop


We took the opportunity to speak to the 3 organisers and find out about the motivations for the meeting, their thoughts on the meeting and lots more.

Rahul Roy, Vivek Borkar and Ayalvadi Ganesh

Rahul Roy Rahul Roy (RR) is based at the Indian Statistical Institute in New Delhi.  He works in the area of probability, specifically considering questions in Physics and Applied Maths.


Vivek Borkar (VB) is based in the department of electrical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.  He works at the interface between probability and optimization.


Ayalvadi Ganesh (AG) works at the University of Bristol.  He works in the area of probability, with a special interest in applications to computer science and networks.



What was your main motivation for holding this meeting?

AG:  It was an opportunity to bring together a wide group of people with different strengths in the area of networks and applications. And to strengthen links with India

VB:  A chance to focus on new and upcoming, non-traditional areas, off the beaten track

What do you think the key benefits of this EPSRC-DST Indo-UK Initiative will be?

AG: Without this initiative this workshop would have been limited to UK participants only, and would not have had as wide a range of disciplines represented. 

RR:  I have been particularly pleased by the range of experience of the participants.  It is great to see graduate students involved. 

RR:  India has some existing collaborations with other countries (e.g. Brazil, France,) and this is chance to build something similar with the UK.

What do you think are the main differences/similarities for mathematicians in the UK/India?

Similarities – Both the UK and India have relatively small maths communities who are well linked and know each other well.

Differences - Harder for mathematicians in India to access funding to enable them to participate in workshops.

Similarities – All agree that maths would benefit from enhanced funding!

Can you tell me what you were expecting when you arranged the meeting?  How has it met/differed from your expectations?

AG:  I was hoping for an interdisciplinary meeting and this is what we set out to achieve.  We have been partially successful with this.  Physics and maths tends to dominate, but it would have been nicer to have more talks from other areas.

VB:  We have an economics talk but it would have been nice to have more.

How does participating in this workshop differ from your normal day as a mathematician?

RR:  escaping the normal day chores, and getting a chance to talk and think about research.

VB:  an opportunity to have a break from teaching and sit back and listen and think about other people’s work.

AG:  escaping email has been nice, and having a chance to speak to people in detail about their work.

What have you found most enjoyable about the week so far?

AG:  the breaks have been a really good opportunity for follow up discussions.

RR:  the open problem sessions have worked particularly well.  Perhaps we should have done more of this, with sessions at the end of each day.

Would you attend another workshop?


Have you been to many other events? Can you give me some examples?

There isn’t an equivalent of ICMS in India, but there are existing collaborations e.g. Indo-French which have different meetings, held at different sites across India. 

AG:  I have attended lots of workshops meetings.  The dedicated space at ICMS makes it a bit different.  Also the small size is good, not having to choose between parallel sessions. 

If you could solve one maths problem what would it be?

RR:  I presented a problem during the Open Questions session at this meeting.  I’d like to solve that!

AG:  It is hard to pin it down to just one problem.

How can we increase diversity in mathematics?

RR:  I believe things are improving at the undergraduate level in India.  However it is still common to have far fewer women in research, whereas in the colleges, female teachers dominate.  There is also the issue of economic barriers to consider which are very hard to tackle

Do you prefer blackboard or powerpoint?

RR:  Blackboard

VB:   A mix.  Powerpoint presentations with access to blackboards

AG:  Blackboard for teaching, definitely.  Powerpoint where you have to cover a lot of material in a short amount of time, and you can assume your audience knows the background maths.

Who is your favourite Mathematician?

VBSRS Varadhan

RR:   Frank Spitzer, he led a remarkable life!



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