CMCGS2015: Two days of Maths in Singapore

Author: Iain Bethune
Posted: 10 Feb 2015 | 14:33

Last week I was lucky enough to spend a few days in the tropical city of Singapore, attending the Computational Mathematics, Computational Geometry & Statistics (CMCGS) 2015 conference. I was there to present a review paper on the achievements of the PrimeGrid project, which I have blogged and talked about before, but as a more mathematical rather than computationally-themed conference, it was also a good chance to make contact with researchers who might be less au fait with parallel computing than most.

Hotel Fort Canning, Singapore

The conference itself lasted two days, and was based in the sumptuous Hotel Fort Canning, situated in Fort Canning park, a quiet green space a short walk from downtown Singapore and the former site of a British military fort during the colonial era. 

There was quite a broad range of topics covered including speakers from pure and applied Maths, Operational Research, and Statistics.  Apart from the two keynote talks, each speaker was kept strictly to a 15-minute + 5 minutes for questions slot, so everyone got a feel for the interests of each speaker, and we were given plenty of opportunity for extended discussions later.

One of the speakers who posed a particularly demanding computational challenge was Dr Saleem Al-Ashhab, who is interested in brute-force enumeration of 'Magic Squares' - an embarassingly parallel task well-suited to Volunteer computing. I also spent time with Dr Vincent Delos, who has a program to sum polytopes (required to compute the possible range of structural defects due to manufacturing tolerance deviations) and Prof. Roberto Montemanni, who is developing a GPU code for a Monte Carlo approach to solving the Orienteering Problem - how courier services decide which deliveries to make and in what order. Overall it was a very interesting and useful time, and I learned a lot (as well as hearing a lot I didn't fully understand)!

Posing with the Mer-Lion

At the end of the conference, we were taken on a bus tour of Singapore with stops at several spots of tourist interest including Chinatown, the Singapore 'Mer-Lion', and Clarke Quay (former goods port, now one of Singapore's shopping malls).  I also managed to explore the city by myself on foot during the evenings, walking the 5km 'Southern Ridges Trail' through some jungle parks in the South West of the island, and visiting the Marina Bay area with many modern buildings, bridges and Formula 1 street circuit.  

After a packed few days, I was happy to be heading home again, although it was a shock to the system to arrive back in Edinburgh where it was snowing, -2C and windy!

You can find some more pictures and comments from the trip on Twitter, under #CMCGS2015.