The Departments of Mathematics and Computer Science were host to the London Mathematical Society’s 2019 Aitken Lecturer, Professor Bakh Khoussainov of the University of Auckland. Bakh Khoussainov is the 5th Aitken Lecturer to visit the UK. The Aitken Lectureship — named after Alexander Aitken, one of New Zealand’s great mathematicians — is a collaboration between the London Mathematical Society and the New Zealand Mathematical Society wherein each Society invites an eminent mathematician from the other country to give lectures at different universities.
On 15 July 2019, Bakh spoke on Semigroups, groups, algebras, and their finitely presented expansions in which he explained his recent work on an old question: What algebraic structures can be finitely presented? Specifically, he showed how a subtle blend of algebraic and computability methods spanning the 20th century enabled him to answer an open question Professor Tucker and Jan Bergstra posed in the 1980s, which arose in their work on the theory of data: Can the algebraic structures that can be listed by algorithms be defined by finitely many equations by adding enough extra operators? Bakh proved No!
Bakh’s lecture took place in the Computational Foundry, our new building for mathematics and computer science at Swansea, opened in October 2018. During his 3-day visit Bakh saw the books and papers of another great New Zealand mathematician, the pioneering computational scientist Leslie John Comrie FRS (1893-1950), whose archive belongs to Swansea University’s History of Computing Collection.