UK Nonlinear News Issue 76, Sep 2014

Prof David Broomhead
13 November 1950 -- 24 July 2014
The news of the death, on 24 July, of David Broomhead shocked and saddened all of us. It meant for me the loss of someone with whom I enjoyed the great gift of friendship for more than 30 years, and for the UK nonlinear maths community the loss of one of its great pioneers. I first met David at various conferences in the early 1980s, and later came to know him well through his frequent and valuable contributions to the infant Centre for Nonlinear Studies at Leeds, of which I was director following David Crighton's departure for Cambridge in 1985. Our close association continued when I was chairman of the then SERC (later EPSRC) Nonlinear Maths initiative and David was officially titled Co-ordinator, having earlier fulfilled that role for the Nonlinear Science initiative; co-ordinator is a woolly term I usually suspect, but in his case to be interpreted as a superb ambassador at large. His own early history as a chemist made him a credible and convincing bearer of the news of potentially valuable developments in nonlinear maths to suspicious and wary scientists and engineers. It would be impossible to overestimate the effect he had in this role in advancing the whole image and influence of mathematical and numerical modelling, not only in the field of chemistry but in whole areas of science and engineering where it had hitherto been a poor or even absent contributor.

David started his academic career as a chemist, gaining his D Phil at Oxford under the supervision of Peter Atkins. Subsequent periods of employment in Japan and at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment at Malvern witnessed the 'conversion' to mathematics which preceded his appointment as professor in the Department of Mathematics at the then UMIST, prior to its amalgamation with Manchester University in 2004. During this period his contributions to both the theoretical underpinning and the practical applications of the rapidly developing field of dynamical systems were innovative and influential. Unsurprisingly these began with the development of novel methodologies in the fields of nonlinear signal processing and time series analysis, but rapidly spread to include applications in many areas of the physical and especially biological sciences, and engineering. This breadth of activity was stimulated and enriched further following the UMIST/Manchester University marriage, and a major achievement was his founding of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Computational And Dynamic Analysis (CICADA), which has flourished greatly during his leadership.

All these facts are impressive to relate, and will ensure his place as a founding father of the now fully grown discipline of dynamical systems theory and practice. What is much more important, yet difficult to convey in words, is a picture of David as a complete human being. He was certainly one of the most original thinkers I have known. He asked those innocent but awkward questions which, in my case at least, often disturbed the foundations of established thinking, usually following up with some innovative and constructive suggestion, and invariably accompanied by that wonderfully friendly smile which never seemed to leave his face. The opinions of anyone, from the humblest student to the Fields Medallist/Nobel Laureate, were treated with the utmost courteousness and consideration before receiving his considered response -- just as Chaucer's verray, parfit gentil knyght, and in the very best sense of the word, he was a true gentle-man. Following so soon after the untimely death of Jaroslav Stark (his successor as SERC/EPSRC ambassador) his loss leaves a gaping hole in the nonlinear maths community, but those who knew him will always cherish many happy memories.

John Brindley, 2014


The 2014 Fields medallists, announced in Seoul, include Artur Avila of CNRS Paris (France) and IMPA (Brasil) for his profound contributions to dynamical systems theory, which have changed the face of the field, using the powerful idea of renormalization as a unifying principle.


    PDRAs at Warwick University within EQUIP:
    • Sergios Agapiou, who was previously an ERC funded PhD student and PDRA working at Warwick University Mathematics Institute.
    • Shiwei Lan, who was previously PhD student in Statistics at UCI Irvine.
    • Claudia Schillings, who was previously a PDRA at ETH-Zurich.
    • Aretha Teckentrup, who was previously a PDRA in scientific computing at Florida State University.
  • Sebastian Wieczorek, Head of Applied Mathematics at University College Cork in Ireland,
    from the University of Exeter.
  • Dr Daniel Vogel, Lecturer, Institute for Complex Systems and Mathematical Biology, University of Aberdeen,
    from the Statistics Department at Dortmund University, Germany


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Issue Seventy-seven: December 2014

Issue Seventy-seven is scheduled for December 2014. Submission of news (new courses, meetings, conferences, new appointments, jobs, new research directions etc.), comments or articles about any aspect of nonlinearity in the UK are very welcome and should arrive by 10 December 2014.