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International Workshop on Difference Sets Kyra Rost

Dr. Ken Smith is a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and this year he had the honor of being a co-organizer for the International Workshop on Difference Sets in Hangzhou, China.

All of the researchers along with Dr. Ken Smith (7th from the left on the second row)

This workshop brought together roughly 35 prospective researchers from China, North America and Europe. The workshop focused on discussing modern approaches to the construction, and nonexistence of group difference sets; related questions in combinatoric design theory, coding theory, finite geometry; open problems; and future stand points. The organizers deliberately avoided the traditional conference model, which most participants expected, to instead provide a more interactive and conversational approach. On the first day, each participant made a 10-minute presentation over their research interests and took questions. After that, invited researchers gave a 45 minute presentation on their chosen topic with special emphasis on illuminating examples, new technical tools, and key open problems. Plenary speakers were Jim Davis (Richmond), Tao Feng (Zhejiang), Jonathan Jedwab (Simon Fraser), Qing Xiang (Delaware), Charles Colbourn (Arizona State), Cunshen Ding (Hong Kong), Kai-Uwe Schmidt (Paderborn), Koji Momihara (Kumamoto), Ka-Hin Leung (Singapore), Yu-qing Chen (Wright State), Bill Martin (Worcester Polytechnic), Arne Winterhof (Austrian Academy of Sciences) and Ken Smith. Their presentations led to a spontaneous atmosphere characterized by numerous questions, extended discussions, and a lively exchange of ideas. About half of the workshop participants were young, inspired researchers which promoted a full morning devoted to hearing from each of them about their current research interests and future plans.

One of the co-organizers, Jonathan Jedwab.

The young researchers who attended this conference left with new ways to think about problems, procedures and it stimulated research ideas. The conference provided an educational space for researchers to express and exchange their interests and ideas. The Workshop/Convention was co-organized by Jim Davis, Tao Feng, Jonathan Jedwab, Ken Smith, and Qing Xiang, and the several graduate students who ensured that all aspects of the workshop ran smoothly and acted as tour guides. The final two days of the workshop provided an opportunity for the international attendees to tour some of the famous sights of Hangzhou, including the West Lake, the Leifeng Pagoda, and the Lingyin Temple.

The two graduate students, Zhiwen He (on the left) and Ye Wang (right) acted as Dr. Ken Smith's tour guides.
The two graduate students, Zhiwen He (on the left) and Ye Wang (right) acted as Dr. Ken Smith's tour guides.
US mathematicians touring the site of a tea plantation.
US mathematicians touring a large Buddhist temple and park.
Dr. Ken Smith at West Lake, with the city of Hangzhou in the background. (It was a windy day!)
Dr. Ken Smith outside a Buddhist Temple at West Lake.

Credits:

Created with an image by Antoine Dautry - "System of equations"

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