Mathematicians from all around the world met in Domazlice

Working in Domazlice on a solution of a long-standing mathematical problem, the Matthews-Sumner Conjecture

Stanislav Sebek, Domazlicky denik, October 10, 2008

The fifth in a series of international mathematical workshops attracted over 30 mathematicians from Europe, United States, Australia and Japan, to Domazlice.

The meetings focus on the so-called Matthews-Sumner Conjecture. "This is a graph theory problem that has been open for 25 years. Some questions [in graph theory] have easy answers, but others lack a solution even after decades", explains Tomas Kaiser from the University of West Bohemia.

"The main difference between this workshop and typical mathematical conferences is that the workshop is primarily focused on a single problem, which increases the chance of progress," says Professor Zdenek Ryjacek from the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, which hosts the meeting, to our reporter.

According to Herbert Fleischner from Vienna, this is a good approach. "The scope of most conferences is too broad, but here, mathematicians from all around the world concentrate [on one problem]. Moreover, I highly regard Czech mathematicians. For instance, Professor Jaroslav Nesetril from Charles University, who is also here, is among the best."

According to Fleischner, the best thing about the workshop is the way all the experts in the field collaborate. "There is no rivalry here. We do compete of course, but in a positive sense," he adds.

"We simply put our heads together and I think we are making progress toward a solution. One of the participants recently solved an important open problem by disproving [a related] conjecture that some people worked on for years, but even that is a result and a move forward," Kaiser says.

In Ryjacek's opinion, the best ideas come up in discussions between colleagues in a friendly and informal setting. "Most of us are in contact over email, but for a truly creative atmosphere, meeting in person is essential," he claims. Hao Li from Paris considers Domazlice and the Sokolsky dum hotel, the venue of the workshop, to be an ideal place for the lectures and discussions. "The atmosphere here is pleasant. I attended the previous events as well, for instance in Hannover. I truly like the historical town of Domazlice. The ambience and people here are stimulating, I find new ideas," he adds.

[Caption: Looking for a solution. Mathematicians from all around the world met in Domazlice to spend a week in expert talks and discussions in a quiet atmosphere. Organizer Zdenek Ryjacek (middle) claims that pleasant ambience is like a fertile soil for ideas.]