The National Workshop: A Concluding Note

“If I feel unhappy, I do mathematics to become happy.  If I am happy, I do mathematics to keep happy”

Alfred Renyi

Dr. Renyi’s words are certainly words to live by, for the participants at the National Workshop. Guided by the Group Theory Gurus from Chennai, Mumbai and Bengaluru, the crowd of 62 undergrad and postgrad students learned something new every minute, young minds being exposed to the brilliance of modern algebraists over the course of 28 and 29 March 2016.

The introductory lecture was delivered by an Old Stephanian and Oxon, Dr. Geetha Venkataraman. Dr. Venkataraman has always been a friend of the Mathematics Society, and by delivering a riveting lecture entitled “Not the Burnside Lemma”, which talks about the role of symmetry in counting mathematical objects, she gave us a flavour of the lectures to come.

The first day saw an interactive lecture by one of India’s youngest but most mathematically mature researchers, Dr. Amritanshu Prasad, from IMSc Chennai. Dr. Prasad, together with his matchstick model of an octahedron, explained the role of group theory in explaining natural symmetry. Solving problems with the help of students, Dr Prasad’s unique approach was well-received by all, a breath of fresh air in an otherwise drab classroom.

Professor JK Verma, the stalwart from IIT-B, was up next, with his talk on the orthogonal group. Professor Verma ensured that students were well aware of the role of linear algebra in group theory. These lectures again, underpinned the inter-connectivity of topics in mathematics, questioning the way things are taught as if they are discrete blocks. The tutorial sessions saw students and faculty members alike solving problems, thus putting what they had learned down in pen and paper.

Last, but not the least, was Professor B Sury, from ISI Bangalore, and a lecture on group theory and its applications to reducibility of integer polynomials over different rings. Professor Sury too delved into linear algebra, and asked students to solve problems on the board, again ensuring that the lecture wasn’t one-sided, and breaking the confidence barrier.

We, at the Mathsoc, are proud to have pulled this Workshop off without a hitch. A shout-out to all our volunteers, who like the folks at IndiGo, ensured that everything was, “on-time”.

A special thank you to Ms Jaspreet Kaur, our staff advisor and Workshop Convener. Ma’am, this Workshop was your brainchild, and wouldn’t have happened without your leadership and persistence in getting the job done.

We’ll sign off now, and hope to pull off a similar feat in the coming academic year.

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