What follows is an expanded version of an article which appeared in the Newsletter of the Fields Institute, December 2001.
The Atlantic Association for Research in the Mathematical Sciences (AARMS) / Association des chercheurs en sciences mathématiques de l'Atlantique (ACSMA) came formally into existence during the weekend of March 23-24, 1996, with an inaugural scientific symposium organized by the founding director, Richard Wood, at Dalhousie University. This was around the time when the idea of a National Network for Research in the Mathematical Sciences was being discussed in the Canadian mathematical community and when PIMS, the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, started its activities as Canada's third mathematical research institute. The aim of AARMS (which, in contrast to CRM, the Fields Institute and PIMS, has neither an administrative structure nor its own physical facilities) is to advance research in the mathematical sciences in Atlantic Canada, by sponsoring or co-sponsoring regional workshops and conferences with international participation, thus exposing and introducing mathematical scientists, especially newly arrived young faculty, and graduate students in the region to current leading-edge activities in research and the application of mathematics at the highest level.
In order to emphasize its aim for excellence and to showcase the quality of its scientific program, AARMS has introduced the AARMS Distinguished Lectureship: this title is awarded, usually twice each year, to a designated invited speaker at an AARMS-sponsored international workshop or conference. The first two recipients are Professors Susan Montgomery, of the University of Southern California, and Hal Smith, of Arizona State University.
While AARMS encompasses all universities in Atlantic Canada which offer graduate degrees, its three ``sponsoring universities'' are Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's, Newfoundland; and the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Since October 1999, the executive director of AARMS has been Hermann Brunner (Memorial University). The current board of directors, consisting of 13 people, which include the Chair of the APICS (Atlantic Provinces Council on the Sciences) Mathematics and Statistics Committee and two members representing the engineering sciences and private sectors, ensures that AARMS is achieving, and broadening, its mission. More details about AARMS, including scientific activities and the composition of its Board of Directors may be found at http://www.math.mun.ca/~aarms/.
During the last two years or so, more than twenty new faculty members have been hired by the universities in Atlantic Canada. As they are all active researchers, this has resulted in a very impressive increase in mathematical activities, including proposals for workshops and conferences. To illustrate this, here are some of the recent and future events sponsored by AARMS, the Fields Institute, and the National Program Committee (NPC):
· International Workshop on "Groups, Rings, Lie and Hopf Algebras" (Memorial University of Newfoundland), May 28-June 1, 2001): This event, funded by the NPC, was organized by Yuri Bahturin, Edgar Goodaire, Mike Parmenter and Yiqiang Zhou (Memorial) and attracted some 40 researchers and graduate students from 10 countries, including Efim Zelmanov (Yale), a 1994 Fields Medalist, who also gave a well-attended public lecture, supported by the President of Memorial University, Dr. Axel Meisen, on ``Abstract Algebra in the 20th Century''. For this workshop, the title of AARMS Distinguished Lecturer was awarded to Susan Montgomery (University of Southern California).
· International Workshop on "Dynamical Systems and Their Application to Biology" (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, August 2-6, 2001: During this NPC funded workshop, organized by Shigui Ruan (Dalhousie), Gail Wolkowicz (McMaster) and Jianhong Wu (York), close to 40 talks by participants from nine countries were presented; the AARMS Distinguished Lecturer was Hal Smith (Arizona State University).
· Workshop on "Modelling and Scientific Computation" (University of New Brunswick, September 28-30, 2001): The aim of this very successful workshop, organized by Viqar Husain, John Stockie and James Watmough (UNB), and partially funded by NPC, was to expose mathematical modelers and computational scientists in the areas of biology, finance, fluid dynamics, and relativistic physics, to state-of-the-art research and computational techniques and to questions of interdisciplinary research. There were four plenary lectures and the workshop was attended by some 40 researchers and graduate students. This AARMS event was part of the Fields Institute's Thematic Year on Numerical and Computational Challenges in Science and Engineering.
· APICS 2001 (St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, October 19-21, 2001): This year's mathematics meeting of APICS featured, in addition to its educational component (undergraduate student competition and paper sessions), three AARMS special sessions, namely the East Coast Discrete Mathematics Conference (organized by Ping Wang, St. Francis Xavier, and funded by the Fields Institute), the Atlantic Provinces General Relativity and Cosmology Conference (Robert van den Hoogen, St. Francis Xavier), and the session on Numerical Analysis/Scientific Computing and Computational Applied Mathematics (Paul Muir, St. Mary's University, Pat Keast and Ray Spiteri, Dalhousie). Thirty talks were presented in these three sessions.
· International workshop on Combinatorial Methods in Polynomial Identity Theory (Memorial University of Newfoundland, one week in August/September 2002): This workshop will be the latest in a series of conferences held annually in, Italy, Israel, \;ldots since 1992. It will be organized by Yuri Bahturin (Memorial) and colleagues from Canada, Italy, Israel, Russia and the USA.
· The 31st Annual Canadian Operator Theory and Operator Algebras Conference is to take place at the University of New Brunswick from May 20-24, 2003. It is being organized by Dan Kucerovsky (UNB) and it already promises to be another outstanding event sponsored by AARMS and the Institutes.
· From July 22 through August 16, 2002, AARMS is planning to hold the first AARMS Summer School at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Organized by Edgar Goodaire (Memorial), it is intended for graduate students (and promising advanced undergraduates) from all parts of the world. It will offer courses in Algebra, Fractal Geometry, Graph Theory, and Differential Equations (Theory, Applications, and Numerical Analysis) which will be taught by highly regarded faculty from around the world. The underlying model for this exciting initiative is that of the highly successful Perugia summer schools, and one of our principal goals is to broaden the education of the graduate students in our region, by bringing them into contact with their colleagues from different educational settings. The initial response from potential participants in Canada, the USA, and many countries in Europe and Asia has been very enthusiastic.
AARMS is an Affiliate Member of the Fields Institute, and until now most of its funding has come from the National Program Committee (NPC) of the three Institutes. Together with the Directors of the Fields Institute, PIMS and CRM, AARMS is currently exploring ways of establishing a broader, long-term funding basis for AARMS' scientific activities in Atlantic Canada. These discussions (originally planned for mid-September but now rescheduled for April, 2002) with senior university administrators and representatives of the provincial governments in Atlantic Canada aim at establishing a joint funding mechanism that will allow AARMS to increase and broaden its scientific programs, both within and without the traditional academic setting.
Hermann Brunner, Memorial University of Newfoundland