Historical notes

Some historical notes about the
New Zealand Mathematics Research Institute

In 1992 Fields Medallist and University of Auckland graduate Vaughan F R Jones accepted a part time position as a Distinguished Alumnus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Auckland while remaining as a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Deeming his New Zealand connection to be important he expressed the wish that this appointment would enable him to fulfil a dream of helping develop New Zealand’s mathematical expertise by organising annual mathematical workshops. The original philosophy, which still underlies the workshops, was that top mathematicians from all over the world who were also excellent expositors would present a series of lectures in a pleasant location in such a way that beginning graduate students as well as local mathematicians would be able to follow an exposition through to cutting edge research. There would also be time for informal discussions between the experts and local specialists as well as students.

The first workshop, organised on rather a shoe-string budget which was adequate thanks to several of the invited speakers paying their own travel expenses, took place at Huia, a suburb of Auckland towards the heads of the Manukau Harbour, in December 1994. Following that success it was decided by an informal organising group that the workshops should take place in about the second week of January at various locations around the country. Because the accommodation at Huia was rather primitive the budget had to expand to provide comfortable accommodation especially for the invited speakers but also for other participants.

Following the successes of the next two workshops, a meeting was held in Napier during the fourth workshop at which it was decided to establish a more formal, long-term structure; it was resolved to establish the New Zealand Mathematics Research Institute (NZMRI). It was determined that the NZMRI should be run by a board of five directors and the five directors elected at the 1998 meeting were Marston Conder, Rod Downey, David Gauld, Vaughan Jones and Gaven Martin. At the first meeting of the directors, Vaughan Jones was elected chairman, a position he filled until 2020, David Gauld elected secretary, which he filled until he retired from his directorship in 2011, and Marston Conder was elected treasurer, a position which he continues to hold. Soon after the NZMRI was incorporated and registered as a charity for tax purposes. Directors are elected for five year terms (except that it was agreed that three of the original directors’ original terms should be three years). The main role of the directors is to appoint someone to organise the annual workshop but especially in the early days they also had a major task of raising enough money to ensure the feasibility of the operations.

Individual Departments of Mathematics and Statistics at Universities around New Zealand have provided some financial support but for the first six years, 1996–2001, the Marsden Fund was the main source of money for the workshops. This was followed by support from the New Zealand Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics for a further nine years. Since then it has been generously supported by Sir Vaughan together with some of the accumulated capital of previous years. Neither source is infinite.

On David Gauld’s retirement as secretary and a director in 2011, Rod Gover was elected as a director and appointed as secretary. In 2016 it was agreed to enlarge the board of directors up to a maximum of nine and at the AGM in 2016 Stephen Marsland and Eamonn O’Brien were elected as new directors. In 2017 Rod Downey retired as director and Astrid an Huef and Noam Greenberg were elected as new directors.

Typically the workshops are organised by one or two local mathematicians and there are about six invited speakers. Attendance at the workshops varies but is usually between 40 and 50, mostly local and a third to a half local students. As word has spread a number of international mathematicians, other than invited speakers, have also asked to be allowed to attend.

The following list gives the names of the organisers; the topic; the invited speakers; the location. Except for the first workshop, which was held in mid-December, all of the workshops have taken place in January.

1994. David Gauld and Vaughan Jones; knot theory; Cameron Gordon (Texas), Rob Kirby (Berkeley), Walter Neumann (Melbourne), Nathan Habegger (Nantes), Hyam Rubinstein (Melbourne), Vaughan Jones (Berkeley and Auckland); Huia.

  1. Vaughan Jones; solvable models and conformal field theory; Rodney Baxter (Canberra), Dietmar Bisch (Berkeley), Peter Goddard (Cambridge), Michio Jimbo (Kyoto), Ruth Lawrence (Michigan), Tetsuji Miwa (Kyoto), Nikolai Reshetikhin (Berkeley), Yu-kui Zhou (Canberra) and Tim Ziman (Grenoble); Tolaga Bay.
  2. Vaughan Jones and Gaven Martin; discrete groups and hyperbolic manifolds; Martin Bridson (Princeton & Oxford), Fred Gehring (Michigan), Andre Haefliger (Geneva), Jonathan Hillman (Sydney), Milagros Izquierdo (Sweden), Linda Keen (New York), Colin Maclachlan (Aberdeen), Walter Neumann (Melbourne) and David Singerman (Southampton); Tolaga Bay.
  3. Gaven Martin; quasi-conformal mappings; Kari Astala (Jyva ̈skyla ̈, Finland), John Hutchinson (Canberra), Tadeusz Iwaniec (Syracuse, USA), Pekka Koskela (Jyväskylä, Finland), Bruce Palka (Texas) and Klaus Schmidt (Vienna); Napier.
  4. Boris Pavlov; harmonic analysis on riemann surfaces; Sergey Avdonin (Adelaide), Len Bos (Calgary), Lennart Carleson (KTH, Sweden), Vladimir Gershkovich (Melbourne), Sergei Naboko (St Petersburg), Tao Qian (Armidale), Hamish Short (France), Sergey Treil (Michigan), Karen Uhlenbeck (Texas), Viktor Vinnikov (Israel) and Bob Williams (Texas); Raglan.
  5. Rod Downey; computational complexity and computational algebra; Eric Allender (Rutgers), Elwyn Berlekamp (Berkeley), Felipe Cucker (Hong Kong), Persi Diaconis (Stanford), Mike Fellows (University of Victoria, BC, and Wellington), Lance Fortnow (NEC Research Institute), Alice Niemeyer (Perth, WA), Cheryl Praeger (Perth, WA), Dominic Welsh (Oxford) and Hugh Woodin (Berkeley); Kaikoura.
  6. Vaughan Jones and Gaven Martin; von Neumann algebras and conformal field theory; Jørgen Andersen (Aarhus), Dietmar Bisch (Santa Barbara), Alan Carey (Adelaide), Edward Effros (Los Angeles), Roger Fenn (Sussex), Vaughan Jones (Berkeley and Auckland), Christian Mercat (Melbourne), Adrian Ocneanu (Pennsylvania), Paul Pearce (Melbourne), Sorin Popa (Los Angeles), Dale Rolfsen (Vancouver), Jacqui Rammage (Sydney), Thomas Schucker (Marseille), Antony Wassermann (Cambridge); Nelson.
  7. Alan Lee and Alastair Scott; stochastic processes and applications; Adrian Baddeley (Perth, WA), David Brillinger (Berkeley), Steve Evans (Berkeley), Ian McKeague (Tallahassee), Ruth Williams (San Diego) and Keith Worsley (Montreal); Napier.
  8. Rod Downey and Geoff Whittle; combinatorics and combinatorial aspects of biology; Karl Broman (Baltimore), Andreas Dress (Beilefeld), Martin Grohe (Edinburgh), Mike Hallett (Montreal), Lior Pachter (Berkeley), Neil Robertson (Columbus, Ohio), Paul Seymour (Princeton), Terry Speed (Berkeley), Richard Stanley (Boston) and Tandy Warnow (Texas); New Plymouth.
  1. Marston Conder and Eamonn O’Brien; computational algebra and number theory; John Conway (Princeton), Hendrik Lenstra (Berkeley and Leiden), Peter Neumann (Oxford), Mike Newman (Canberra), Cheryl Praeger (Perth WA), Karl Rubin (Palo Alto), Alice Silverberg (Columbus, Ohio) and Charles Sims (Rutgers); Nelson.
  2. Gaven Martin and Eamonn O’Brien; geometry and its interactions with algebra and analysis; Ben Andrews (Canberra), Kari Astala (Helsinki), John Conway (Princeton), Michael Eastwood (Adelaide), Craig Evans (Berkeley), Tadeusz Iwaniec (Syracuse), Peter Jones (Yale), Martin Liebeck (London), Alex Lubotzky (Jerusalem), Steffen Rohde (Seattle) and Peter Sarnak (Princeton); Napier.
  3. Roger Fenn, David Gauld and Vaughan Jones; knot theory; Ian Agol (Urbana-Champaign), Jeff Cheeger (New York), John Conway (Princeton), Roger Fenn (Sussex), Mike Freedman (San Diego), Cameron Gordon (Texas), Scott Morrison (Berkeley), Hyam Rubinstein (Melbourne) and Kevin Walker (San Diego); Taipa.
  4. Colin Fox and Boris Pavlov; partial differential equations, their analysis and applications; Boris Altshuler (Columbia University), Jochen Brüning (Berlin), Stefan Finsterle (Berkeley), Rostislav Grigorchuk (Texas), Jari Kaipio (Kuopio), Ernie Kalnins (Waikato), Rowan Killip (Los Angeles), Pavel Kurasov (Stockholm), Gerald Steiner (Graz), Daniel Watzenig (Graz); Waitangi.
  5. Rod Gover and Gaven Martin; conformal geometry and geometric approaches to partial differential equations; Ian Agol (Berkeley) Alice Chang (Princeton), Michael Eastwood (Adelaide), Robin Graham (Washington), Claude LeBrun (Stony Brook), Willard Miller, Jr. (Minnesota), Neil Trudinger (Canberra), Paul Yang (Princeton); Nelson.
  6. Rod Downey and Naom Greenberg; algorithmic information theory, computability and complexity; Denis Hirschfeldt (Chicago), Ted Slaman (Berkeley), Alexander Kechris (Los Angeles), Michael Yampolsky (Toronto), Eric Allender (Rutgers); Napier.
  7. Ben Martin and Eamonn O’Brien; groups, representations and number theory; Martin Bridson (Oxford), Michel Broúe (Paris), Persi Diaconis (Stanford), Roger Howe (Yale), Gus Lehrer (Sydney), Marcus du Sautoy (Oxford); Hanmer Springs.
  8. Vivien Kirk, Rua Murray and Arno Berger; dynamical systems; Vitaly Bergelson (Columbus, Ohio), Marty Golubitsky (Columbus, Ohio), Yannis Kevrekidis (Princeton), Bernd Krauskopf (Bristol), James Meiss (Colorado), Hinke Osinga (Bristol), Martin Wechselberger (Sydney); Raglan.
  9. Mark Holmes, Vaughan Jones and Gaven Martin; random media and random walks; Martin Barlow (Vancouver), Geoffrey Grimmett (Cambridge), Remco van der Hofstad (Eindhoven), Frank den Hollander (Leiden), Tom Salisbury (York), Vladas Sidoravicius (Amsterdam); Nelson.
  10. Stephen Marsland; geometric mechanics and shape; Tudor Ratiu (Lausanne), Boris Khesin (Toronto), Tony Bloch (Ann Arbor), Peter Michor (Vienna), David Mumford (Providence), Xavier Pennec (Sophia-Antipolis); Ohope Beach.
  1. Astrid an Huef and Iain Raeburn; operator algebras; Vaughan Jones (Nashville), Ruy Exel (Florianópolis), Jesse Peterson (Nashville), Sorin Popa (Los Angeles), Aidan Sims (Wollongong); Te Anau.
  2. Steven Galbraith and Dimitri Leemans; algebra, number theory and discrete geometry; Pierre Deligne (Princeton), Gus Lehrer (Sydney), Cheryl Praeger (Perth, WA), René Schoof (Rome), Richard Weiss, (Boston); Nelson.
  3. Bernd Krauskopf and Hinke Osinga; continuation methods in dynamical systems; Harry Dankowicz (Urbana-Champaign), John Guckenheimer (Ithaca, NY), Tony Humphries (Montreal), Jan Sieber (Exeter), Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova (Exeter); Raglan.
  4. Adam Day and Noam Greenberg; computability theory and infinite combinatorics; Denis Hirschfeldt (Chicago), Jack Lutz (Iowa City), Maryanthe Malliaris (Chicago), Antonio Montalbàn (Berkeley), Hugh Woodin (Boston); Napier.
  5. Marston Conder, Eamonn OBrien and Gabriel Verret; algebra and representation theory; Arun Ram (Melbourne), Alan Reid (Austin), Colva Roney-Dougal (St Andrews), Dan Segal (Oxford), Don Taylor (Sydney); Nelson.
  6. Stephen Marsland and Nicholas Witte; the unreasonable effectiveness of random matrix theory; Peter Forrester (Melbourne), Iain Johnstone (Stanford), Jon Keating (Bristol), Craig Tracy (Davis), Alice Guionnet (Lyon); Waikanae.
  7. Stephen Marsland, Sebastian Schuster and Matt Visser; Mathematical aspects of general relativity; Piotr Chrúsciel (Vienna), Mirjam Cvetic (Philadelphia), Claudia de Rham (London), Clifford Taubes (Harvard), Edward Witten (Princeton); Nelson.
  8. Marston Conder and Gaven Martin; Up-and-coming early/mid-career mathematicians based in New Zealand; Brendan Creutz (Canterbury), Marie Graff (Auckland), Alexander Melnikov (Massey), Jeroen Schillewaert (Auckland), Melissa Tacy (Auckland), Dan Turetsky (Victoria), Geertrui Van de Voorde (Canterbury), Gabriel Verret (Auckland); Napier.

In addition to the Annual Summer Workshops, the NZMRI has sponsored numerous other less formal workshops, often following on from the annual workshops, and held in various places in New Zealand.

A number of the invited speakers have developed sufficiently strong ties with local mathematicians that fruitful subsequent long-term collaborations have followed, with exchanges of research visits. Others have even taken up permanent positions in New Zealand.