The beginning of July also brought the opening of the 11th AIMS Conference on Dynamical Systems, Differential Equations and Applications that ran through July 5th at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida. This popular conference meets biennially, in off years for Snowbird. With about 1400 people participating in Orlando this year, it was a great place to meet up with old friends and collaborators as well as to meet some new ones.
A special feature of this meeting was a celebration of Peter Lax’s ninetieth birthday. The celebration included events such as Michael Ghil’s plenary talk honoring Lax, “A Mathematical Theory of Climate Sensitivity: A Tale of Deterministic and Stochastic Dynamical Systems” as well as a special session co-organized by Ghil: “Nonlinearity in Climate and the Geosciences, a Special Session Honoring Peter D. Lax” with 18 talks. There was also cake, and gifts in the form of copies of a special issue (August 2016) of the AIMS journal Discrete and Continuous Dynamical Systems-Series A dedicated to Peter Lax on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday.
(Celebrating Peter Lax’s birthday, second from the right)
Ghil’s was one of nine exciting plenary talks; another highlight was Martin Hairer's. Hairer is a recent Fields medalist (2014) for his work on making mathematical sense out of certain SPDEs that are physically motivated but had difficulty finding a firm mathematical foundation. In his plenary talk, he described new research regarding the stochastic motion of loops on manifolds, where one tries to distribute spatio-temporal white noise on the loop's motion. This has similar challenges to those of the SPDEs he previously considered, but with the added twist now of applying the noise over the self-consistently stochastically moving region occupied by the loop as it expands, contracts, and moves.
Suncica Canic's plenary talk developed a computational approach to fluid-structure interaction problems that could be placed on a firm analytical foundation, and illustrated its implementation for simulating blood flow through stents.
In his plenary talk, Hal Smith surveyed some major milestones in the theory of monotone dynamical systems, centering on the discovery of important notions such as subadditivity and generic convergence to steady states. He then surveyed a selection of recent developments in the field, including competition systems of two species in ecology.
Other illustrious plenary speakers included Gang Tian, Stan Osher, Irene Fonseca, Wei-Ming Ni, and Alessio Figalli (unfortunately Anatole Katok had to cancel).
The meeting featured an impressive 122 Special Sessions. Some of these were paired with plenary lectures, such as the special session honoring Peter Lax. Hal Smith also co-organized a special session in monotone systems that opened with a talk by Morris Hirsch, the founder of this branch of dynamical systems theory, and continued with stimulating talks by other influential speakers in this area. Irene Fonseca and Alessio Figalli also co-organized special sessions.
There were of course many free standing special sessions, such as "Randomness Meets Life,” organized by Peter Hinow and Blerta Shtylla. It featured a quite strong collection of presentations on aspects of stochastic dynamics in biology, ranging from cellular dynamics to search strategies for organisms to evolutionary models for why humans live long enough to be grandparents.
Though the meeting was large, it was remarkably well organized, and many participants commented on aspects of the organization that were particularly conducive to interactions. The venue was of sufficient size to easily handle the meeting, and coffee breaks were distributed so that one never had to go far to partake in the refreshments and could instead really spend the breaks interacting with people. Another popular feature of these conferences is that lunch is included on site, allowing maximum opportunity to mingle with others at the meeting and facilitating new introductions since one is likely to join a table with people one hasn't met previously.
Since 2004, this AIMS conference has alternated locations between the US and overseas. The 12th AIMS Conference on Dynamical Systems, Differential Equations and Applications will be held July 4-8, 2018 in Taipei, Taiwan.