Sunday, April 01, 2018

INSPEM 16th Anniversary and Institutes Elsewhere

I thought I should reblog on this special day. It is the 16th anniversary of Institute for Mathematical Research in Universiti Putra Malaysia (INSPEM, UPM). It was on this day in 2002 that INSPEM was officially formed though the groundwork went much earlier than that. Rather than talk about the past, I would like to dwell on the future. At the age of 16, the institute will now enter its fourth phase and if things go as planned, we would be much at the international stage. In some way, we have established cooperation with our Italian partner, Politecnico di Torino by having an office for  Malaysia-Italy Centre of Excellence for Mathematical Sciences (MICEMS) right in INSPEM building. Indeed Politecnico is planning to deploy an Italian researcher and staff here in the near future.

Having said this, the last few years also saw budget cuts for the public universities. As a result, the institute has reduced the number of staff over the period, with some senior professors leaving. So the near future will be ever more challenging. More so, as an institute for mathematical research, we will not be as visible as other institutes given the nature of our research and hence the need to make our institute ever more relevant.

Perhaps one should also observe what is happening in other countries with respect to research institutes in mathematical sciences. Certainly, one can see more institutes are being established (not the other way round) showing the (long-term) need for a research ecosystem rooted in highly advanced mathematics given the more complex problems of science and technology. One could try to justify the instituteby throwing in buzzwords like artificial intelligence, big data and quantum technology whose foundations in mathematics are known. To some mathematical researchers, sometimes one feel uncomfortable justifying our research this way since for most of the time the practical applications of mathematical discoveries are often unknown or are very distant in the future. Suffice for us just to demonstrate its international sense of importance through the list of growing mathematics institutes in technological advanced countries. Here are some (not exhaustive):
Despite my near-retirement, I sincerely wish INSPEM continue to grow strong and be a successful internationally respected research institute.

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