Tournament of Towns in Toronto
Summer Conference
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19th Summer Conference, Minsk, 2007

Conan (Shuyun) Wu

It was my pleasure to be invited to the TOT summer conference in Minsk, Belarus. During the 10 days, we got a chance to look at a selection of interesting topics in mathematics including Hilbert's 10th problem (turning machines), quadratic irrationals (computability and Galois theory), tailing with cell figures and so on.

My project was to study pointed graphs on a plane or sphere. By pointed graphs I mean a geometric graph with each vertex adjacent to an angle larger than π. At the first glance, those graphs may look completely random (and certainly not at all convex), but they actually carry a lot of interesting properties.

At the end of the conference, we went through the recent proof of carpenter's ruler problem using pointed graphs. I definitely learned many new ideas and approaches that I had never thought about before.

Qin Deng

The Summer Conference took place in Minsk, Belarus this year. Well more exactly, it took place in a military school in the centre of Minsk. The living conditions were not bad. The food was good and although I had to share a room with four others (including a Russian, a German and two from France), we had lots of fun playing bridge during our sparetime.

The organizers proposed six problem sets this year, two of which (invariants of polygons and quadratic irrationals) I found interesting. At the end, I decided to work on the invariants of polygons. Before the semifinals I worked alone, often until pretty late in the night. But by the finals I realized that the essence of the conference was to discuss problems and obtain inspiration from others. So at the end I teamed up with two Germans on the problem sets. For our excursion this year we went to a lake just outside of Minsk, where many of us played beach volleyball, chess or just relaxed in the sun with our feet dipped in the cool water. Prior to the excursion we were warned about these extremely dangerous insects that might just paralyze you, boy did that get our alarms up! Thankfully there were no such insects in the area where we picnicked, giving us a much-needed break from math.

I think I definitely learned a lot in the conference, not just in the area of mathematics but also in seeing how a professional mathematical conference worked. If you ever get a chance to go to the conference, whether it's in Minsk or some other city, I would definitely suggest that you go.

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