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SIAM Activity Group on Linear Algebra

Minutes of the SIAG-LA business meeting

Oct 27, 2015 • David Bindel

The SIAG-LA business meeting was held on October 27 at the SIAM ALA meeting.


The slides presented by Dan Sorensen are available online. A few highlights:


The next SIAM ALA meeting will take place in Hong Kong in 2018 in the conference center at Hong Kong Baptist University. Michael Ng is the local organizer. Since the business meeting, the SIAM has approved David Bindel and Raymond Chan as co-chairs for the scientific committee.

Gene Golub Summer School

Letters of intent for the Gene Golub Summer School are due by Jan 2016. We would like to strongly encourage SIAG LA members to propose workshops!

SIAG LA track at AN 16

There is a SIAG LA track at the upcoming annual meeting, organized by Francoise Tisseur. Minisymposium proposals are due January 11, and contributed talks are due by February 1.


The SIAG website has been significantly revised, and has moved from its former home at Temple University to SIAG web space. In addition to communication via the web site, the SIAG LA digest goes out roughly monthly. The digest format has been carried over from the previous SIAG officer group: following consultation with some of the Activity Group members, they switched from immediately forwarding (unmoderated) announcements to providing a monthly newsletter containing all of the (relevant) announcements that we had received during the previous month. This monthly newsletter is typically sent out to the subscribers on the first Monday of each month. Some months there are no submissions so no newsletter is sent out.


Non-student membership in the SIAG is flat; student enrollment has declined since 2010. Compared to other SIAGs, SIAG LA has a larger percentage of academic members, and a marginally smaller percentage of female members. The most academic members are affiliated with math departments, though there are also many from computer science and engineering.

Open discussion

During the open floor session after Dan Sorensen’s presentation, the following issues came up.

Conference venues

During the discussion, Volker Mehrmann mentioned that several years ago during a SIAG LA business meeting, participants complained about holding the meeting at expensive hotels. In recent years, we have returned to expensive hotels in Monterey and Atlanta, which he felt was not a good idea. Ilse Ipsen commented that holding conferences in universities in the US is not cheap, and can be as expensive as a hotel.

Increasing student membership

Charlie Van Loan asked for clarification about the reason for student SIAG membership, and whether it crossed SIAG boundaries. Dan Sorensen replied that SIAM believes that at least part of the decline was due to a procedural problem with renewal: students weren’t aware of how and when to renew. Iain Duff asked how many attendees at the meeting were students; nobody present was certain, though the Nancy Snell thought the number was roughly 1/3. Nick Higham asked whether all available student travel awards were used; the answer is that 31 travel awards were made, 28 to students and 3 to early career researchers. Daniel Szyld pointed out that if any of the 28 are not SIAG members, we should encourage them to sign up! Michele Benzi suggested that many conferences have a best student paper award to encourage student participation, though this is more work for the committee.

The SIAG officers are proposing a SIAG-LA related mini-posterium at the upcoming annual meeting, which we hope will attract student presenters as well as others. We are also open to other ideas to increase student membership and participation.


Nick Higham asked about SIAM News articles related to numerical linear algebra. The answer was that we did not have a representative to SIAM News. Linda Thiel briefly pointed out that the SIAM News representeative is not responsible for writing the articles; they need to give ideas to the editorial staff, and perhaps suggest people to write it. Also, the contact may simply field questions from SIAM News about whether an article might be of interest to the community.

Rosemary Renaut volunteered to serve as the SIAM News contact person for the SIAG.

Upcoming elections

There was a brief discussion of the SIAG LA elections, which occur every three years in concert with the meetings. Nick Higham observed that the election cycle currently leads to a lack of continuity. This is something the SIAG LA officers were keenly aware of in this cycle, and the plan is to create a document of upcoming tasks and deadlines to help the next group of SIAG officers.

The SIAG LA elections are now open, but had not yet opened at the time of the business meeting. The slate is:

  • Chair: Peter Benner and Jim Nagy
  • Vice-Chair: Zhaojun Bai and Alison Ramage
  • Program Director: Melina Freitag and Xiaoye Li
  • Secretary: Jennifer Pestana and Raf Vandebril

The nominating committee was Bruce Hendrickson, Iain Duff, Ilse Ipsen, Chen Greif, and Paul Van Dooren.