Mathematicians Gather for 3-Day Conference

math conferenceImagine the mathematicians at dinner, splitting the bill.

“Several of us ate at the hotel last night,” said Jorge Martinez, a University of Florida professor who traveled to Penn State Behrend, for the 16th annual conference on Ordered Algebraic Structures. “It developed, as those meals often do, into a sort of family dinner.”

His specialty puts him in a small group: Twenty academics attended the conference, which was held June 24-26. Most have collaborated in some way already, advancing the study of lattice theory or pointfree topology.

Students also can attend the conference. That broadens the roster.

“One of the beauties of these gatherings is that somehow, in some way, there is always someone new to the group,” Martinez said.

Papiya Bhattacharjee, assistant professor of mathematics, coordinated the conference, which had never before been held at Penn State Behrend. She also presented her research of p-extensions – one mathematical lattice set within another.

“This is a ‘pure math’ area,” she said of the conference, which focused on ordered structures. “In terms of numbers, we say, ‘This number is less than this number.’ The ‘less than’ is an order.

“It’s very abstract,” she said. “But once we make the foundation, you can apply it in many other fields.”

Chemists and computer scientists build on that work. The mathematicians, meanwhile, dig even deeper into algebraic theory, asking new research questions over dinner, or during breaks in the conference schedule.

“This is a wonderful group,” Bhattacharjee said. “They make you feel very comfortable. So it’s nice to collaborate with them face-to-face, instead of just exchanging emails.”