Flash Blog: GRASCan, Book, AIMS

I’ve returned home this week to my own mountain of work, after a conference and short vacation in western Newfoundland. So this week’s post is a short collection of things floating around in my universe.

Graph Searching in Canada

I co-chaired the 6th Graph Searching in Canada (GRASCan’17) at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University last week. For those of you who don’t know, Grenfell Campus is located in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, which is the second largest city in the province. There are graph theorists/discrete mathematicians there, including Jared Howell, Robert Bailey, and Rebecca Milley, and they were kind enough to host the workshop in their Department. Jared and Margaret-Ellen Messinger from Mount Allison University co-chaired.

GRASCan began in 2012 at Ryerson University, in response to the critical mass of Canadian research in the field of graph searching. Imagine an intruder loose in a network and a group of agents is trying to capture, neutralize, or surround them. Often, such problems are posed within the context of a combinatorial game like Cops and Robbers. Inspired by other conferences like GRASTA, GRASCan is small and invite-only, with talks and time to collaborate. Nancy Clarke (Acadia University) and Jan Kratochvíl (Charles University, Prague) gave excellent keynote lectures.

GRASCan’17 group photo.

A bonus with having the conference in Corner Brook was having excursions to Gros Morne National Park. I hiked up Gros Morne mountain with my spouse Doug, which was a grueling 16-kilometer climb and descent on often broken, uneven rocks and scree. I’m training for a marathon this Fall but I am no climber. This, however, was definitely a bucket list item for me, so I am happy to have emerged in one piece.

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A tired but elated Iintrepid Mathematician at the summit of Gros Morne Mountain.

Book proofs

In academic life, projects can rapidly pile up no matter how organized you become. Being on sabbatical this year helps the mountain of work, but an axiom of academic life is that busy professors tend to become busier over time.

While in Gros Morne, I received proofs for my upcoming academic book Graph Searching Games and Probabilistic Methods, co-authored with Pawel Pralat. We are now faced with correcting dozens of (fortunately) minor typos and stylistic things in the 350+ page text. This kind of work is simple but tedious. We want to perfect the book as much as possible, and of course, no book can be perfect. The book is coming out later this year with CRC Press, and it is a survey of the field of graph searching (described above) through the lens of randomness. From the preface:

From the preface:

“Graph searching games and probabilistic methods take two separate, but intertwined approaches: the study of graph searching games on random graphs and processes, and the use of the probabilistic method to prove results about deterministic graphs. We will see both approaches many times throughout the book. One of the goals of this monograph is to bring the intersection of probabilistic methods and graph searching games into a place more readily visible to researchers. While we do not claim to make an exhaustive account, the material presented here is a survey of some main results in this new field. Our intended audience is broad, including both mathematicians and computer scientists. Since our approach is to be self-contained wherever possible, much of the material is accessible to students (mainly graduate but also advanced undergraduates) with some background in graph theory and probability.”

AIMS

It isn’t quite official yet, but there is a high likelihood I will be teaching a graduate course in Limbe, Cameroon this Winter term. The course will be housed in the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), and it will be an accelerated, three-week Masters-level course. I’ve taught similar accelerated courses in Maynooth, Ireland and at Dalhousie University in Halifax. They are fun but since you teach each day, it’s like running on a treadmill.

AIMS has institutes in South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, and Cameroon, and it is co-funded by the governments of Canada and France. Ryerson is working on a multi-year agreement with AIMS and my course will be the pilot in developing that partnership. Kudos to David Kribs at the University of Guelph for championing AIMS in Canada.

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The opening ceremony of AIMS Cameron with Cedric Villani and Governor General Michaëlle Jean.

I’ve never been to sub-Sahara Africa and am thrilled at the prospect of lecturing there. I’m most excited about sharing my passion for mathematics with a generation of smart, young Africans who will be the scientific leaders of that continent in the future.

Anthony Bonato

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