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Dean's Message - December 2017

November has been a month of movement, with visitors coming, delegations going and all the usual activity of a busy and vibrant Faculty.

Inbound, the READI Project (Risk Management, Economic Sustainability, and Actuarial Science Development in Indonesia) hosted a study tour in Waterloo that included fourteen Indonesian Deans and lecturers from partner universities. The tour focused on implementing actuarial science programs and supporting initiatives. We continue to value international connections as we learn what others are doing around the world and share our expertise on the development of our programs, attracting the best and brightest researchers, outreach, and co-operative education.

Outbound, the University sent a delegation to Hong Kong to meet with partner universities, government officials and corporate leaders. One of the highlights of the trip was the Hong Kong Alumni Association Gala with 600 attendees including the head of the government of Hong Kong, the Chief Executive. At the end of the evening, each faculty’s alumni gathered for a group photo. Math was by quite some margin the most represented faculty, overflowing the stage. The government visits included a session with James Lau, Secretary of Financial Services and Treasury (and Waterloo Math alumnus), to discuss various Waterloo initiatives, including financial mathematics and artificial intelligence. On the corporate side, I was fortunate enough to visit Huawei’s Hong Kong Noah’s Ark Lab. Pascal Poupart and Ihab Ilyas were also visiting Asia, delivering well-attended lectures.

Math alumni attending the Alumni Association Gala in Hong Kong

Math takes the stage (credit: Hong Kong Alumni Association)

In the world of art and mathematics, our faculty was part of another successful Bridges Lecture on November 22 at St. Jerome’s University. Craig Kaplan of the Cheriton School of Computer Science has a 3D printed kippah exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art.

If you have 3-D models or interesting mathematical artwork, we would like to showcase artwork by our faculty and graduate students in the suspended display case on the third floor of MC by the bridge to the Lazaridis Centre (QNC). Contact Debbie Brown ( for more information.

One of the events held in Montreal by our Advancement team this month focused on women in technology. The panel, #WeBelonginTech – Saluting the Female Tech Trailblazer, included faculty members Jo Atlee and Kate Larson, as well as alumna Vicki Iverson, the co-founder and CTO of Iversoft. The short, Ted-style talks highlighted the speakers’ incredible contributions to technology and the work being done to remove the barriers for young women considering a career in tech.

There were no barriers to female computing science students at the CAN-CWiC programming challenge. Teams of programmers from the University of Waterloo owned the podium placing first, second and third. Congratulations to all of our students on their excellent standing in the contest.

Congratulations also go to all the winners of the Big E and Special K contests that were held on November 4. The results were, for Big E: 1st Billy Jin, 2nd Albert Gevorgyan, 3rd Yesung (Josh) Jung. Following close behind were: Anzo Teh, Robert Cummings, and Jun Yan, followed by: Zhenyuan (David) Zhang, Stephen Wen, Reyno Tilikaynen, Alexandru Gatea, Joakim Blikstad, Erlang Surya, Zhengyu (Jarry) Gu, and Antonio Molina Lovett. For Special K: 1st Timothy Wahyudi, 2nd Ruben Partono, 3rd Jason Yuen. Following close behind: Rui Ming Xion and Shi Han (Henry Wen), followed by Peter Ralbovsky, Linyin (Richard) Sun, Luming Zhang, Jerry Zhu, and Nolan Pyott.

We are proud to report the following awards announced for the month of December:

Today, we welcome leading academic colleagues and practitioners to campus for the Advances in Predicative Analytics Conference. For two days, attendees will share recent advances in their field.

Looking forward, we are hosting the Canadian Mathematical Society 2017 Winter Meeting, December 8-11. This is being held in Waterloo in recognition of our Faculty’s 50th Anniversary and it closes out our year’s celebration. Several of the conference prize-winners and speakers have a Waterloo connection:

  • Sabin Cautis, recipient of the Coexter - James award: “to recognize young mathematicians who have made outstanding contributions to mathematical research” was a Waterloo undergrad (2001), Putnam fellow, and on the 1st place Putnam team.
  • Richard Hoshino, our speaker following the reception, is a recipient of the Adrien Pouliot award for “significant and sustained contributions to mathematics education in Canada,” and a Waterloo undergrad (2001).
  • Edward B. Burger, who will give the Friday evening public lecture was a postdoc at Waterloo with Cam Stewart (1990-91), and a recipient of the MAA Chauvenet prize for expository writing.
  • Plenary lectures will be given by Bill Cook, professor in Combinatorics and Optimization and Waterloo PhD (1983), Joel Kamnitzer, a Waterloo undergrad and Alumni gold medalist (2001), and Niky Kamran, a Waterloo PhD and Alumni graduate gold medalist (1984).

As classes wrap up and our students prepare for their exams, know that all the hard work this term will pay off. After a refreshing break, we will see you back in January for new classes and new opportunities to collaborate.

On behalf of the Faculty of Mathematics, happy holidays,

Stephen M. Watt

Dean, Faculty of Mathematics - University of Waterloo

Stephen Watt