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Second Workshop on Integer Partitions

May 30 – June 5, 2022, @ Nesin Mathematics Village

It finally happened! Since 2018, I have been trying to find a time to organize this event. The first Workshop on Integer Partitions at the Nesin Mathematics Village (NMK, their Turkish abbreviation) was great fun and a major success. I wanted to keep the ball rolling and introduce these research topics (that I love) together with more people in a friendly environment.

As always, I felt the welcome of NMK from the start of the organizations. This time we got a new ally. Turkish Math Society (TMD, their Turkish abbreviation) also decided to support our event.

I would like to thank the Village and its wonderful team –special thanks to Asli, Aycan, and Tugce– and the TMD MAD fund for their support. I appreciate the recognition and this encourages me to do more.

How did it start?

It was early 2020, and we didn’t know what was there to come, I first contacted NMK. Their program was full. We aimed this workshop to take place right after the Antalya Algebra Days (the major algebra conference in Turkey, which used to be in Antalya but now takes place at NMK). We couldn’t get the time we wanted. The village was busy for the whole summer. Even then they were able to carve us a small space to have this event. We started the organizations slowly only to cancel later due to the lock-downs.

In the beginning of 2022, I started by contacting my previous co-organizers Zafeirakis Zafeirakopoulos (Zaf) and Kağan Kurşungöz to see if they were up for another round of our workshop. The responses were encouraging. I knew I wanted Jehanne Dousse to be a part of this event too. I approached her. Voila! A positive response came and it got things officially moving.

It was time to contact, the Queen-Bee of the Village, Asli. I contacted her and requested some time and accommodations for this event. She was friendly as ever. It has been 12 years since we first met each other and to this day our conversion has been friendly, polite and professional. I find myself impressed by her professional conduct. We started with the basics, decided on the number of people, the level of participants we expect, the dates, etc. After some emails back-and-forth we decided to have a week-long workshop followed by couple more days for the organizers to stay and collaborate on their research projects. We aimed for the week after Antalya Algebra Days once again (although that event later got cancelled). Once our plans were solidified, Aycan took over and handled our organizational needs. She was just as great as Asli and helped me along the way leading up to the event itself.

After the organizations were done, Walter Bridges said he wanted to join. Back then, we were expecting a mixed group of students from upper level undergrads to early PhD candidates. So, I suggested that he joins us as a lecturer. He accepted and that finalized the list of people to give lectures in this event

The Workshop

Let’s start with the timetable and the videos. You can watch all the lectures on YouTube on NMK’s channel, or directly from the links below:

Honestly, we didn’t put much thought on how the program should be after the teaching group was formed. I knew what I wanted to teach, I knew it wouldn’t interfere with the others’ lectures and that was good enough for me. One thing I know for sure was that, in the last workshop we had four 90-minute lectures everyday and that was way too much for the students to endure.

Maybe a month before the workshop, I had separate conversations with Zaf and Jehanne. Hour long lectures seemed to make sense the most. That would also leave some time for us to chat and possibly collaborate. With this vague understanding we all made our way to the Village on 29th of May. We finalized the program to have 5 lectures every day (except for the research talks and the social event on Thursday) and a later 1 hour obligatory meeting time with the participants to exchange ideas and answer any and all questions.

The lecture videos above would speak for themselves. The quality of the lectures (excluding a judgment on my own lectures) were quite high and they were all at an accessible level to a wide audience. We required that accessibility because we ended up with a group of participants all the way from freshmen to postdocs. It needed to be both interesting to everyone and to be understandable. I was impressed with how the instructors (again excluding a judgment on my lectures) understood this and kept the level so right. I am so glad that the Village asked us to record the event and upload it all on their webpage. I hope these lectures will be watched and more importantly bring the theory of partitions to the attention of math-loving audience.

The Participants

We had a mixed bag. It was quite diverse. Including the lecturers, we were 18 people from 8 nationalities coming from institutes that lie in 5 different countries. We had 3 participants that were in the in the first workshop as well. One of them, Halime, finished her PhD studies in the meantime under Kağan’s supervision. It was a really proud moment to have a former participant to join us again, this time as a colleague. The other two were at the end of their doctoral studies too. Clearly, this bunch stayed busy in between these two workshops and it was pleasant to see that mathematics were gaining some new blood, especially in this topic of study.

As mentioned earlier, we had undergrads, Masters students, PhD candidates, and postdoctoral researchers. This gave me a good opportunity to see what was being lost on different levels of participants. For example, due to the fast start, some undergrads got slightly overwhelmed on the first day. I and these couple of undergrads sat down together after dinner, while other people were having drinks and getting to know each other better. We had a chat about what are some common goals of the theory of partitions research, how things connected, what the new and weird notations meant, etc. It was good to see that they became more comfortable. It would have been an utter shame for them to come all the way to the village and not get anything out of it. I didn’t want to let that happen. These two undergrads participated more and stayed interested in the lectures, so I think it worked.

The Mini-Symposium and The Social Event

We wanted to have a break day after the 3rd day of lectures and see the ancient city of Ephesus. It might have been a one time opportunity for international participants to be this close to that site (although I hope they will all come to NMK many more times). We decided to have our social event after lunch and this allowed us to organize a quick symposium in the workshop. After all, we had 8 participants that do research in discrete mathematics; some doing research directly in the theory of partitions.

The Thursday morning session was filled with really nice talks. I am thankful to all our participants that volunteered to give a talk. Their talks sparked many new ideas in the group and, for example, I already started to collaborate with one of them. This is what we wanted for the workshop. It created new connections.

Post-Workshop

Jehanne, Zaf and I stayed for another three days to collaborate after the workshop. I need to admit that I was drained with all the organizational responsibilities and especially the other work that I needed to address during the event. Zaf had a lot on his plate as well. Either way, I didn’t want to slack. This was a great opportunity to work with Jehanne on our common goals. I had a wonderful time working with her and I wish we could stay there longer.

After our workshop, CIMPA summer-school came to the NMK and filled it with a new batch of young mathematicians that were hungry for research. We met the organizers of this event back in 2018 when the first workshop on partitions was taking place. It was a great coincidence that they came back to the Village 4 years later at the same time as us.

Their event was a much larger than ours and the idea was to have small groups of 4, 5 students with a researcher to tackle some new research problems that the group leader chose. I should say that it gave me some ideas for the future of the workshop on integer partitions. We already had a strong group with many researchers in it. We could have also approached the partitions workshop in the CIMPA summer-school way.

On our last night, CIMPA event had their warming up and welcome party on the Village deck. We crashed their party an hour after it started and had a blast. We let loose and danced with the Village employees, the other event’s organizers  and participants into the night (dramatization). It was a superb ending to our event and our time at NMK.

Once more I left the Village longing for more; wanting more for the Workshop; wanting more for the future; wanting more from the times to come… I believe, I wasn’t the only one that felt this way either, and –in my book– that means there will be more to come.

 

 

 

 

 

Some trivia:

  • Elaine and Vishnu were the pioneers of the WhatsApp group. They fostered such a friendly environment from the get go. I couldn’t have thought of doing such a thing. Thanks to them we had great transfer of information and a fun group chat too.
  • The group photo was taken by a middle-schooler named Mert that was at the Village for a couple of days on a school trip.
  • Caption of the group photo: Front-row left to right: Nicolas Smoot, Vishnupriya Anupindi, Ali Kemal Uncu, Kağan Kurşungöz, Walter Bridges, Shamus Albion. Second-row left-to-right: Kevin Allen, Yalçın Can Kılıç, Alp Eren Yılmaz, Jehanne Dousse, Halime Ömrüuzun Seyrek, Elaine Wong. Third Row left to right: Ömer Selçuk, Zafeirakiz Zafeirakopoulos, Mohammad Zadeh Dabbagh, Zohreh Aliabadi, Murat Ertan. Top row: Hasan Bilgili.
  • NMK approached us and requested to record our lectures right after Jehanne’s first lecture. We needed to record her lecture again at the end of the second day. It was incredible to watch Jehanne recreate the same board and teach the class almost verbatim. She should be awarded an academy award for the best reproduction of a lecture.
  • I decided to organize the next event not to be on the week after Antalya Algebra Days but to organize it to be on the week before a CIMPA school. They sure know how to have fun. 🙂

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