|Former Ohio State
Ph.D colleagues Wai Kiu “Billy” Chan, associate professor of mathematics,
and Maria Ines Icaza of Universidad de Talca in Chile, met for two weeks in
September at Wesleyan to collaborate on planning a mathematics conference.
Faculty Plans International Conference to Attract Elite Mathematicians
from Around the World
A Wesleyan mathematics faculty member is helping
to organize an international conference in Chile that will be only the
second of its kind ever held.
Wai Kiu “Billy” Chan, associate professor of mathematics, is co-organizing
the International Conference on The Algebraic and Arithmetic Theory of
Quadratic Forms 2007. The event will be attended by elite mathematicians
from around the world Dec. 13-19 near Lake Llanquihue in the southern part
of the country.
“The purpose of the conference is to get together and exchange ideas,” Chan
says. “Although we do write back and forth through e-mail, mathematicians
prefer to get together in person and communicate that way.”
Chan is one of six conference organizers, and has teamed up with Maria Ines
Icaza, associate professor and director of The Institute of Mathematics at
Universidad de Talca in Chile. In September, Icaza visited Wesleyan for two
weeks and worked with Chan on conference planning and a future publication.
This is the second quadratic forms international conference in history. The
first was held in 2002. Chan spoke at that conference on “'Positive ternary
quadratic forms with finitely many exceptions.”
Chan and Icaza attended The Ohio State University and worked under the same
Ph.D advisor. They’ve been collaborating on several research projects funded
by the National Science Foundation and National Security Agency of US, and
Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Cientifico y Tecnologico (FONDECYT) of Chile.
The colleagues’ conference is an integral part of Chile’s 2008 bicentennial
“One of our country’s goals is to support an economy and society based on
new ways of thinking when it comes to math, sciences and technology,” Icaza
The Chilean Science Foundation created the Programa Bicentenario de Ciencia
y Tecnologia (PBCT), or the Bicentennial Program in Science and Technology.
This program is funding the international conference with a $900,000 grant.
The conference organizers are using these funds to invite attendees from all
over the world. In addition to Chan and Icaza’s U.S. and Chile origins, the
other organizers come from University of Bordeaux in France, University of
Nottingham in England; Bielefeld University and University of Saarlandes in
About 85 participants have confirmed they will be attending, although only a
select few will speak at the conference. All attendees are professors, post
doctoral researchers and graduate students. English will be the language
used to communicate at the conference.
“This is a very selective conference, and our speakers will be among the
best mathematicians in the world,” he says.
The Quadratic Forms 2007 conference was one of 15 science-related projects
funded by the PBCT. Forty-seven applications were refereed by a selected
group on scientists from all over the world including researchers in
biology, chemistry physics and mathematics.
As part of Chile’s Bicentennial Program in Science and Technology, Chan was
not only asked to be part of the conference’s organizing committee, but to
participate on a long-term collaboration with mathematicians from
Universidad de Talca.
“Professor Chan's participation as well as the participation of the other
international collaborators makes our projects strong and suitable to
achieve the PBCT goals on developing research in science in Chile,” Icaza
This year, Chan’s former student, Anna Rokicki, who earned a Ph.D from
Wesleyan in 2005, will attend the conference.
For more information on the International Conference on The Algebraic and
Arithmetic Theory of Quadratic Forms, go to
By Olivia Bartlett, Wesleyan Connection editor