SIGSAM Annual Report

July 1997 - June 1998
Submitted by: Bruce Char, SIGSAM Chair


The past year has marked a number of highs and lows for SIGSAM. The ISSAC'97/2nd PASCO conference held in Kihei, (Maui) Hawaii was one of the best-attended meetings in the ISSAC series, and of course quite enjoyable for the participants. It returned a reasonable surplus to the SIGSAM and SIGNUM treasuries. On the other hand, the organizers of ISSAC'98 held August, 1998 in Rostock, Germany, opted not to let SIGSAM sponsor that meeting, so there will be no financial effects from that meeting on the SIGSAM budget other than proceedings sales. Membership in SIGSAM continued to decline, to the neighborhood of 300 voting members.

The SIGSAM Bulletin published four issues with its new expanded size of 64 pages. It has established a section for formally reviewed articles that attracted a significant number of submissions to date. The ISSAC proceedings were distributed as part of the publications subscription package sent out to all SIGSAM members. The 1997 ISSAC on numerical computations applied to the solution of algebraic problems having to do with polynomials.

Significant papers on new areas that were published in proceedings

A relatively new area of research interest is in hybrid symbolic-numeric methods to solve problems in polynomial algebra, such as finding solutions to systems of multivariate non-linear equations. Successful methods must do justice both to the algebraic structure of the polynomial system as well as floating point efficiency and numerical stability. The ISSAC'97 proceedings included several papers on the subject, such as "Stabilization of polynomial systems solving with Groebner Bases" by Hans J. Stetter, and "A Reordered Schur Factorization Method for Zero-dimensional Polynomial Systems with Multiple Roots", by R.M. Corless, P.M. Gianni, and B.M. Trager.

Innovative programs which provide service to some part of your technical community

The 1998 East Coast Computer Algebra Day, held in April 1998 in the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, is the fifth of a series of meetings developed in cooperation with SIGSAM. Funded in part by the US National Science Foundation, it provides the only regularly scheduled annual meeting within North America devoted to the core SIGSAM area of computer algebra. This past year XX people attended the meeting, which was supported by grants of $YY from ZZ. As has become the custom of the meeting, the meeting was held on a Saturday in the spring, with three invited speakers, and multiple poster sessions, along with ample time for informal interaction by the participants.

Key issues that the membership of that SIG will have to deal with in the next 2-3 years.

The overriding issue that SIGSAM will have to deal with in the next year is the continued decline in its membership, to where there are fewer than 300 voting members as of August, 1998. Not only is this membership leakage threatening to the long-term financial health of the organization, it indicates the disparity between the large numbers of computer algebra system users (numbered in the millions, if you include student users of the technology) and the interest in innovative work in the field.

Another issue that SIGSAM needs to resolve is how to address the wishes of a number of SIGSAM members to have an annual meeting within North America that can focus on computer algebra activities without becoming redundant with other existing meetings, such as ISSAC. A task force of SIGSAM members will be formed to investigate this, with the charge of organizing a meeting for the '99-'00 academic year if it decides that the need should be filled.