PIMS at the UW
The Pacific Institute of Mathematical Sciences (PIMS) was created in 1996 to foster the development of mathematics at all levels in Western Canada. The first five founding Universities are Simon Fraser University, the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia, the University of Calgary, and the University of Victoria. The Departments of Applied Mathematics, Mathematics, and Statistics at the University of Washington joined PIMS in September 2000, making the UW the sixth PIMS university, and thus opening up a new era of scientific collaboration between the US and Canada.
PIMS is rapidly becoming a major international force. NSERC, the Canadian equivalent of the National Science Foundation, has recently dramatically increased the funding for PIMS. Also, the Banff International Research Station (BIRS) for mathematical discovery and innovation started operations in March of this year. BIRS was formed thanks to a partnership between the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) in Berkeley and PIMS, with funding provided by NSERC, the province of Alberta, and the US National Science Foundation. About 40 five-day workshops will be held this year; twelve of these are organized by faculty from the three mathematical sciences departments at UW. Other activities at Banff include two-day workshops, focused research groups, summer schools, and industrial problem-solving workshops. From all accounts BIRS has been a resounding success.
During 2003, PIMS has been holding a thematic year on Inverse Problems and Applications. Professor Gunther Uhlmann (UW) is the coordinator for this program. Inverse problems arise in many scientific fields, including geophysics, medical imaging, remote sensing, and non-destructive evaluation of materials. Several workshops on inverse problems have been held this year; for example, in Vancouver this August there was a workshop on inverse problems in medical imaging. The focus of this workshop was on the recent advances in mathematics which have allowed for a significant enhancement of widely used imaging techniques such as x-ray tomography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasonic imaging. This was particularly topical because this year's Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded for advances in MRI related to inverse problems.
PIMS has identified about 30 Collaborative Research groups (CRGs) among the PIMS institutions. A new PIMS program will support workshops and other activities of half a dozen selected CRGs for a one to two year period. There are currently six CRGs having concentration periods: Dynamics, Number Theory, Mathematical Ecology, Probability and Statistical Mechanics, Scientific Computing, and String Theory. UW faculty have leadership roles in all six of these.
Since its founding in 1996, PIMS has become a world class institution, and is helping to strengthen the mathematical community in the Pacific Northwest. We are looking forward to an increased involvement of UW in the continuing development of PIMS as an international center of mathematics research, and industrial and educational outreach.
Visit the PIMS website.