I am back after my trip to the annual meeting of the Australian Maths Society in Adelaide. There were 12 plenary speakers this year. Going to one of these general meetings always reveals how big a subject mathematics is and how little of it I know. For this reason I always prefer “big picture” plenaries over more detailed ones. A couple of personal highlights were Terry Tao’s public lecture on `Structure and randomness in the prime numbers’, Jacqui Ramagge’s talk on `Totally disconnected, locally compact groups’ which outlined the theory of the subject developed mainly by George Willis, and Akshay Venkatesh’s talk on his work with Ellenberg and Westerland on `The Cohen-Lenstra heuristics over global fields’.

There were up to 12 parallel sessions on at any given time. I mainly attended the combinatorics session where there were many good talks and I spoke on `3/2-transitive permutation groups’. I have uploaded the slides for my talk. I also ventured to the Topological groups session and enjoyed Daniel Horadam’s talk there on `Automorphism groups of trees’. There were many other talks I would have liked to have gone to but they clashed with other interesting talks or me speaking.

Overall the conference went very well and the organisers should be congraulated on the great job they did. The conference dinner was also very well done: the food and wine was great and there was even a band.

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Yes, I’d also like to add my congratulations to the organizers, particularly for the great quality of the food and drink.

Except for the coffee, which was definitely mediocre, the morning and afternoon teas were excellent, especially having big trays of lovely fresh fruit as well as a good range of more interesting than usual sweet stuff.

And the conference dinner was one of the best I’ve been to – it was held at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide which was a really high class venue. The service was absolutely exemplary, I had a great meal and the wine was just superb – I haven’t been to many conference dinners where Wolf Blass Grey Label Cabernet Sauvignon (usually retailing around the $35-$45 mark) is available in unlimited quantities.

To top it off there were TWO bands – a laid back jazz trio (I think) playing instrumental during dinner and then a different band with a singer afterwards. Dancing happened, which now makes it two conferences in a row that I have attended (the BCC was the other) where mathematicians have defied the gender imbalance and shaken a leg.

Ditto. A fantastic conference was had. I really enjoyed the students’ talks, and congratulations to Michael Pauley from our mob who earned an honourable mention for his student talk (as part of the B. H. Neumann prize competition). It was great to catch up with my other aussie colleagues and people I see only once in a while. Strangely, we didn’t talk all that much about the dire state of Australian mathematics; I think we’re over it!

Videos of the plenary talks are now available at the conference website.