Discrete Mathematics and Big Data

On 15-17 February, we are holding a meeting at St Andrews on Discrete Mathematics & Big Data. You can find the web page here, and from that page you can get a programme for the event.

I had little to do with the organisation, though I was responsible for suggesting a couple of the speakers.

As I have said before, discrete mathematics can potentially generate huge amounts of data (though these tend to differ from most scientific data in that they are exact rather than approximate). Producing such data is clearly important and difficult, but there are further problems (storing it, curating it so as to make it useable by others, and so on) which have perhaps not been as much thought about as the production of the data. In the past, the usual thing was simply to put up a webpage with a link to the data.

I regard the ATLAS of finite group representations as a model of how this should be done. The data (generators of the groups in various permutation and matrix representations, character tables, etc.) is clearly laid out for human use, but (more importantly) is accessible by computer algebra programs such as GAP in a way which is practially transparent to users.

So I am very glad that Rob Wilson, the driving force behind the ATLAS, is speaking at the meeting (though he is not talking exclusively or even mainly about this – there is plenty more he has achieved in this area!)

Another speaker I am glad to welcome is Patric Østergård, one of the heroes of combinatorial search; among the big datasets he has been involved with producing is the catalogue of Steiner triple systems of order 19: there are 11084874829 of these up to isomorphism!

Come along if you can, and please contribute to the discussion, and help develop good practice for dealing with large combinatorial datasets.

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About Peter Cameron

I count all the things that need to be counted.
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