Lab Canada

Mathematical sciences’ centre opens in Banff

Banff, AB March 11, 2003 The Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) has opened in Banff. A collaborative Canada-US venture, BIRS provides an environment for creative interaction and the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and methods within the mathematical sciences and with related sciences and industry.

It is the fulfillment of a remarkable effort led by the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences (PIMS), itself a major collaborative venture between all the universities in Alberta and BC, as well as the University of Washington. The US partnership is led by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) in Berkeley, CA. BIRS also receives the help and participation of the Network of Centers of Excellence for Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems Network (MITACS).

BIRS is located on the site of the world renowned Banff Centre in Banff, Alberta. It has its own building, Corbett Hall, and facilities which allow mathematical scientists a secluded environment, complete with accommodation and the necessary computing facilities, for uninterrupted research activities in a variety of formats, all in a magnificent mountain setting.

On September 24, 2001, in joint international ceremonies held simultaneously in Washington, D.C. and at the Banff Centre, funding for BIRS was announced by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Alberta Science Research Authority (ASRA). The funding announcement was for $4.7 million for three years starting in 2003, from the three agencies ASRA, NSF and NSERC in addition to over $1.3 million in support from PIMS and the MITACS network.

The BIRS mandate is to embrace all aspects of the mathematical and statistical sciences from the most fundamental work on the great problems of algebra, number theory, geometry and analysis, to the various aspects of applied mathematics, theoretical and applied statistics, mathematical physics, financial, industrial and bio-medical mathematics, as well as the mathematics of information technology and computer science.

BIRS will hold 40 weeklong workshops a year beginning on March 15. These intense research meetings will involve 40 participants who are picked by the organizers as being the leading experts in the world for that area.

In addition to the workshops there are also two-day events, suitable for promoting industry-academic collaborations, and research in teams and focused research groups to allow small groups to live and to do research together for periods of 2-4 weeks. BIRS also hosts Summer Schools and Graduate Training Camps.

Applications for BIRS activities are selected on a competitive international basis, by a rotating international Scientific Advisory Panel of experts from the breadth of the mathematical sciences. The competitions for the workshop selections for 2003 and 2004 (80 workshops in total) have already been held and the selections made from a field of over 200 submitted proposals.

The director of PIMS and executive director of BIRS is Nassif Ghoussoub, FRSC, with the University of British Columbia. BIRS’ scientific director is Robert V Moody, OC, FRSC, with the University of Alberta.