Following “Combinatorics” in Perugia, was the two-day conference in Ferrara in honour of Frank De Clerck, where I was a co-organiser (with Michel Lavrauw, Jan De Beule, and Nicola Durante). Ferrara is a truly beautiful medieval city and the Castello Estense, where the conference has been held, is the central attraction. All of the lectures were delivered in one of the catacombs of the castle, which made for a cosy atmosphere for the some 50-odd participants.

The calibre of the talks was certainly above average, and I can say for one that I was engaged with most of the material in each lecture. Since Tim Penttila couldn’t make it, I stepped in and gave his talk on Tuesday morning; I couldn’t help but don Tim’s attire and make some bad jokes! The award for the best joke of the conference went to Willem Haemers, where he used the following notation for the 2-rank of a matrix:

-rank

As we are about to leave Ferrara to return to our institutions, we are left with the sentimental closing remarks of Christine O’Keefe and Nicola Durante; our best wishes to Frank for the future!

PS: The PDF’s of the talks will soon appear on the conference webpage.

PPS: I remembered three more things:

- Simeon Ball and I attended a tango milonga in the Castello Estense on the Sunday evening.
- I dislocated my thumb during the conference photo shoot.
- A pizza margherita usually cost 4.50Euro in Ferrara.

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Here is the conference photo: