The Biarri Applied Mathematics conference for 2014 has now concluded and the feedback we received has indicated that the event was an overwhelming success. We had over 200 registrations and by our rough count approximately 120 people attended over the course of the two days that the event was held, at RMIT University, Melbourne.
On Day 1 we gained an appreciation of the labour that goes into gathering data for sports analytics from Anthony Bedford of RMIT; his interactive videos also showed that most of the audience were not very proficient at analysing basketball plays! Alysson Costa’s passion for the flexibility and power of MIPs shone through his talk, though no doubt he was very much “preaching to the choir”. Jan de Gier’s modelling of traffic networks will surely make most of us pause for thought when we are next stuck in a spontaneous jam.
Geoff Prince of AMSI made sure that no-one suffered post-lunch sleepiness by providing some alarming statistics about the level of maths in education, reminding us of the ongoing need to evangelise our wonderful discipline. Menkes Van Den Briel from NICTA provided ample evidence that “Optimisation is Everywhere” in his talk, and no doubt made many of the audience who were regular travellers more conscious of how they board aeroplanes. At the end of the day Noon Silk of Biarri wrapped up an excellent first day by showing examples of how to collaborate openly and how reproducing our results publicly could maximise the fun quotient of research.
Day 2 featured a raft of good reasons to pursue MIPs as a powerful solution technique by Michael Forbes of the University of Queensland. Three Biarri talks then followed including arguably the best-titled talk of the conference, David Philpot’s “Silence of the Lambs”, which spoke of optimisation modelling in the meat processing industry and may well have the vegetarian audience members somewhat queasy.
After another excellent lunch (how good was that catering!!) the afternoon talks included an engaging presentation on word puzzles by Michael Bulmer of the University of Queensland, models to help save the White-backed Woodpecker in Sweden by Peter Baxter (also of the University of Queensland), and finally to end the day, an encouragement by the BAM chairperson – given that we saw how powerful mathematical and analytical thinking can be, coupled with strong evidence that indeed maths “is everywhere” – that we could all “make a difference” with maths.
Biarri and AMSI would once again like to thank all the presenters for volunteering their time to speak at the BAM, for RMIT for providing an excellent venue, and to all of the attendees for their interest and enthusiasm (not to mention their excellent questions). Behind the scenes a number of people worked hard to organise the event and ensure that it was run smoothly. See you all again at the next BAM!