30 November 2021 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Supplied
Prof Johan Meyer, Senior Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, says he is looking forward to learning from others in the field during this collaboration.

What do trees, black holes, earthquakes, and time structures have in common? 

The answer to this question is that these, in one way or the other, form the focus of some of the abstracts delivered during the Annual Congress of the South African Mathematical Society. The society has as its main objective the advancement of mathematics in South Africa. 

The Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at the University of the Free State (UFS), in conjunction with the South African Mathematical Society (SAMS 2021), is hosting the 64th Annual Congress of the society this week (29 November to 1 December 2021).

Prof Johan Meyer, Senior Professor in the department, says the congress, which is being conducted online, is focusing on all aspects of mathematics research, including history and teaching.

Learning from others in the field

The congress, which aims to share the latest research results in mathematics, will be attended by staff and students from universities across South Africa as well as abroad. “Anyone from the public is, of course, welcome to attend or even share their results if they are also involved in mathematics research,” adds Prof Meyer. 

He says that he is looking forward to learning from others in the field during this collaboration. 

The congress will include discussions on more than 120 abstracts, covering category theory, algebra, topology, logic; functional analysis and operator theory; finite groups and combinatorial structures; graph theory and combinatorics; lie symmetries and nonlinear differential equations; and applied and numerical mathematics.

Array of interesting topics presented

“It is important in many areas of science and engineering to predict and to simulate rare, random events, the occurrence of which may have negative or even catastrophic consequences. Examples include internet server overflows, mechanical breakdowns, floods, and financial crashes. Rare events can also have a positive effect, triggering for example chemical reactions or driving genetic evolution via random mutations.” Prof Hugo Touchette from Stellenbosch University will be shedding some light on this interesting topic in his presentation on Predicting and simulating rare events.

Prof Jeandrew Brink, Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at the UFS, is presenting a plenary session on the topic Determining the geometry of strong field space-times in spite of tacitly assuming the answer during every measurement. In South Africa, state-of-the art pulsar timing data from the MeerKAT telescope will make a considerable contribution to conducting GR orbital tests. Prof Brink comments on how pulsar timing tests differ from tests using gravitational wave detectors, as well as what we can learn from the framework already employed to perform pulsar timing measurements.

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