By Pam Cook and Jim Crowley
The 2016 SIAM Annual Meeting this month in Boston was an unqualified success. Thanks to all those who helped make it happen - from the co-chairs (Mary Silber and David Gleich) to the SIAM office staff, to the SIAG for Life Sciences Co-Chairs (Robert Guy and Samuel Isaacson) to the speakers, mini symposia organizers, poster presenters, and attendees. The conference was the largest ever (with 1700 attendees), which required some last minute space scrambling by the staff but worked out seamlessly. The success of the conference can be attributed in part to the venue (Boston) and also to the co-locating of the SIAG for Life Sciences conference.
Each year a SIAG (SIAM activity group) holds their (topical) conference at the SIAM national meeting. This year it was Life Sciences, next year at AN17 in Pittsburgh it will be the SIAG on Control and Systems Theory and the SIAG on Geometric Design will organize a series of minisymposia.
The presence of SIAGs in SIAM serves to provide a networking structure within SIAM among those interested in similar topics. There are currently 21 SIAGs - the two newest being The Mathematics of Planet Earth and Applied Mathematics Education. SIAGs vary in size, from the smallest of about 100 members to the largest, Computational Science and Engineering (CS&E), with more than 1,000 members. The information on how SIAGs are formed, operate, are approved, and how they may be sunsetted can be found on the SIAM website, as well as in a recent SIAM News article.
SIAGs are formed around a specific topic of interest to the SIAM community, normally in response to a petition from a group of SIAM members. Since SIAGs are intended to be formed around activities for and by SIAM members, to be a member of a SIAG one must be a member of SIAM. SIAGs are approved and then chartered for a fixed length of time - typically, but not always, two years. The approval is granted by the SIAM Board and the SIAM Council. A SIAG may apply for renewal if there continues to be a strong demonstrated interest among the SIAM and SIAG members. Over time, interest in SIAG areas/topics and mission may wane or may meld with other areas. In such cases, a particular SIAG may choose to be discontinued, may not apply for or be granted a renewal, or may choose to merge with another SIAG.
As seen from the talks and attendance at this year's SIAM Annual Meeting, the health of SIAGs is important to SIAM membership and serves to enhance the strength of the meetings as well as to serve the research interests of SIAM members in more focused meetings and activities. With your help, we look forward to the continued growth and refining of SIAM SIAGs in the future!