UK Nonlinear News, November 2001


Global Analysis of Dynamical Systems: a workshop in honour of Floris Takens' sixtieth birthday

Lorentz Center, Leiden University, The Netherlands: 25-29 June 2001

By David Chillingworth

The Lorentz Center (an international visitors' centre for physics, mathematics, astronomy and computer science with natural affinity to Lorentz contraction rather than the Lorenz equations) is a striking building with its outside walls not orthogonal to its floors and situated among other university buildings on the outskirts of Leiden (see http://www.lc.leidenuniv.nl). It provided an excellent venue for this varied workshop on dynamical systems in honour of Floris Takens, well known for his work of major influence in the field since the 1960s. It also provided the only known occasion when Floris, famed for his punctuality, was late for a lecture and presentation (cause: a temperamental lift).

The programme of the meeting and other details can be found at http://www.cs.rug.nl/globdynsys. A very good feature was the associated volume of papers (same title as the workshop) edited by the organizers Henk Broer, Bernd Krauskopf and Gert Vegter and published by Institute of Physics publishing: the fact that this was available for distribution to participants at the start of the meeting was a real tour de force by all concerned.

After the Leiden workshop many of the participants migrated to Groningen to join a Celebration in Honour of Floris Takens who held a chair in Differential Topology, in particular Dynamical Systems there from 1972 until 1999. See http://www.cs.rug.nl/~gert/workshops/party.html where there is also a nice account of Floris' career as a mathematician. The Celebration on 30 June took the form of a reception, followed by an address by Jacob Palis of IMPA, Rio de Janeiro (where Floris was a frequent visitor) and then a talk by Floris himself. This talk to a general audience underlined the importance of mathematics in society and the need to increase mathematical awareness in the world at large. To close the Celebration, the `Academy medal of Groningen University' was presented to Floris by Douwe Wiersma, the Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. The event was then followed by an excellent dinner at De Apedans (monkey dance!) restaurant when students, friends and colleagues of Floris paid their own tributes to his work and to his much-admired personal qualities.

As this weekend was Swinging Groningen weekend (especially outside the windows of the University Guesthouse) and many had to leave early for morning flights from Schiphol at the other end of the country not a lot of sleep was had by all. It was a very enjoyable and worthwhile week, and a fitting tribute to an eminent mathematician whose ideas will have guided almost everybody who works in dynamical systems today.


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