Department of Mathematics and Statistics

 

York University

Faculty of Arts and

Faculty of Pure and Applied Science

 

M E M O R A N D U M

 

to:

 

Dean R. Drummond, Dean G. Wu

 

from:

 

Neal Madras, Chair

 

date:

 

May 27, 2004

 

subject:

 

 

Hiring priorities for the coming year

 

 

 

During the past Winter term, the Department of Mathematics and Statistics embarked on a series of discussions about its future directions, in the short and medium term, which included aspects of research goals, undergraduate programs, and governance issues.

As one result of these discussions, the Department Council approved a set of short-term hiring priorities, which is the purpose of this memo.  Our requests for ITEC positions in Arts have been formulated and forwarded separately.

 

We are faced with several retirements in the summer of 2004:  Mort Abramson, Julia Brown, Martin Muldoon, and David Promislow in Arts; and Jim Laframboise and Al Stauffer in FPAS (both cross-appointed with Physics and Astronomy).  In addition, Gene Denzel will retire in 2005 (but will not teach in 2004-05), and Joan Wick Pelletier officially retired in December 2003.

 

To summarize, our hiring priorities for the short term are positions are in the following areas:

 

  1. In FPAS:  (in order of priority)

(i)                  Computational Mathematics or Mathematical Modelling

(ii)                Bioinformatics (not necessarily in the Math & Stats department; rank open)

(iii)               Statistics (rank open)

(iv)              Computational Mathematics or Mathematical Modelling, again

  1. In Arts:  (in order of priority)

(i)                  Foundations of Computation, Mathematical Analysis, and either Financial Mathematics or Operations Research

(ii)                Algebra

  1. A joint appointment with the Faculty of Education in the area of Mathematics Education

 

Here are more details on the above items. 

 

1.  Faculty of Pure and Applied Science:

Retirements in FPAS are a serious concern for the near future.  Besides Al Stauffer and Jim Laframboise, who are both cross-appointed to our department and to Physics and Astronomy, there are other faculty members entirely in Physics and Astronomy who have been frequent teachers of MATH courses and will be retiring soon:  Jurij Darewych and Helen Freedhoff.  In addition to the strain that this puts on our staffing of specialized upper-level courses (see below), this also makes it harder to fully staff our large 1000- and 2000-level courses (including MATH 1013, 1014, 1025, and 2015) with full-time faculty members.  In light of this situation, we feel justified in asking that the replacements of Stauffer and Laframboise both be 100% in Mathematics and Statistics, rather than joint with other departments in FPAS.  Our teaching needs amply justify this.

 

 

1. (i,iv):  Computational Mathematics or Mathematical Modeling

It will continue to be a challenge to staff our courses in Numerical Analysis and Computational Mathematics (MATH 3090, 3241, 3242, 4141, 6652, 6911, as well as a new 4000 level course in numerical financial mathematics that will be introduced for FW05), with the retirement of J. Laframboise, M. Muldoon, and A. Stauffer.  The main people remaining who are primarily in this area are H. Huang and D. Liang.  Our new UFA faculty member, HM Zhu, helps to offset the loss of the retirees:  She has expertise in computational mathematics (as well as modeling), but not in the differential equations component.  Modeling courses also play a prominent role in our Applied Math and Computational Math curricula (MATH 4090, 6931, and 6937, as well as aspects of 2041 and 2042).  There are several people who can teach them, but these people are often in demand for other specialized courses (particularly numerical analysis or differential equations).  A result of this demand is that fewer full-time Applied Math faculty members are available to teach the introductory courses for Science and Engineering students.  In particular, we must rely heavily on faculty members from other departments in FPAS to staff the MATH tutorials, since Arts faculty members do not teach tutorials (due to their load of 2.0 courses).  For general purposes of retention, for recruitment of applied math majors, and our service commitment to other programs, it is essential that we have tenure-stream faculty working in our 1000- and 2000-level courses.  Computational Math and Mathematical Modeling continue to be popular at the graduate level, and supervisors are in demand not only for Ph.D. students but also for the M.Sc. and M.A. programs  (in particular, for the projects required for the M.Sc. in Industrial and Applied Math degree).  For these reasons, we request two positions in Computational Mathematics or Mathematical Modeling in the near future, preferably with one search to take place in FW04.

 

 

1.      (ii):  Bioinformatics

A hiring for one position in Bioinformatics was approved in FPAS for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in Winter 2004.  At the time of this writing, that search is still in progress, but we are optimistic about the likelihood of a successful conclusion to this search.  This search was part of an initiative in FPAS to promote the field of Bioinformatics at the undergraduate and graduate levels as well as at the research level.  Curricular discussions continue, but it is clear that at least one more appointment targeted to Bioinformatics would be needed to support this initiative.  The current search was based in Math & Stats, but it was essentially interdisciplinary.  The search committee included a faculty member from Computer Science and another from Biology, and we did not restrict our search to candidates who were primarily mathematicians or statisticians.  Further searches in Bioinformatics should retain this character, whichever department they are based in.  Hiring is competitive in this area, and we should have the option of seeking more experienced researchers to provide the needed leadership for this interdisciplinary field.  For these reasons, we request at least one more position in Bioinformatics, preferably Rank Open, in any of the three departments of Biology, Computer Science, or Mathematics & Statistics.

 

 

1. (iii):  Statistics

There are currently 10 core faculty members in Statistics in Arts (S. Chamberlin, G. Denzel, X. Gao, H. Massam, G. Monette, P. Peskun, P. Song, S. Wang, Y. Wu, and also Y. Fu who was just hired and will begin on July 1, 2004).  Denzel will retire in 2005.  Although there are considerable demands for teaching statistics at the undergraduate level (especially the service courses 2560 and 2570, as well as higher-level courses required by the Math for Commerce and Business & Society programs), it is at the graduate level where the case for new hiring is strongest.  The M.A. stream in Applied Statistics, combined with the option of the Financial Engineering Diploma in the second year, has attracted many excellent applicants, both domestic and international.  There is high demand in the job market for students with graduate degrees in Statistics.  For example, out of 15 students admitted to the Statistics graduate programme in Fall 01, 9 were employed and 5 were pursuing Ph.D. degrees (as of late 2003).  We currently have 9 students in our Statistics Ph.D. program; we havemany strong applicants who cannot be accepted because of supervisory shortage.  (Denzel and Peskun are not in the graduate program.)  Fu, Gao, and Wang will all be in pre-candidacy in FW04, and we feel that it is important to have the option of hiring more experienced faculty members to solidify the group.  (Also note that if P. Song does not return from his two-year leave of absence, then the situation will be even more serious.)  In the past, all of our Statistics appointments have been in Arts (there are also two Atkinson statisticians in our graduate programme—P. Ng in Admin Studies, and A. Wong in SASIT).  But we feel that it is time to have a Statistics appointment in the Faculty of Pure and Applied Science:  our research in Biostatistics and Bioinformatics increases, and we hope for closer ties with the Biology department; some department members have begun working on statistical climatology, bringing opportunities for collaboration with ESSE; and there are possibilities of teaching a new introductory Statistics course for Physics/Engineering.  Accordingly, we request a position in Statistics, preferably Rank Open.

 

 

 

 

 

2.  Faculty of Arts:

In Arts, our concern is to maintain our complement in light of the 2004 retirements, and to solidify certain crucial areas.  In each of these areas, searches at the Assistant Professor level should be appropriate.

 

 

2.(i)  Our three main priority areas are (a) Foundations of Computation, (b) MathematicalAnalysis, and (c) Financial Mathematics or Operations Research.  At the time that our discussions took place within the department, we felt that these three areas were of approximately equal importance and we chose not to rank one over another at that time.

 

 

2.(i)(a)  Foundations of Computation:

Foundations of Computation includes fields such as Category Theory, Complexity, and Logic.  These are all parts of mathematics that are of particular interest to areas of theoretical computer science, and we expect that such an appointment will promote links with the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.  The Category Theory group, which has been very active at York and has produced several Ph.D. graduates, has been weakened by Joan Pelletier’s recent departure.  This leaves W. Tholen as the only active researcher in this area, and a second appointment is highly desirable to maintain this field.  For these reasons, we request an appointment in Foundations of Computation.

 

 

2.(i)(b)  Mathematical Analysis:

Current members of the Mathematical Analysis group are M. Muldoon, D. Promislow, and M.W. Wong.  Of these, Muldoon and Promislow retire in 2004.  This loss is partly offset by the hiring of P. Gibson to start in July 2004, but we feel that another hire in this area is important.  Mathematical Analysis is one of the central areas of mathematics, and interacts directly with other areas in the department such as set theory, topology, algebra, probability, and applied mathematics.  Some members of our Applied Math group (J. Wu, HP Zhu) could be classified as working in “Applied Analysis”, but this is quite different from having people whose focus is on the Pure Math side of Analysis.  It is also a core area of our undergraduate and undergraduate curriculum, with the required courses 1000, 1010, 3010, 3110, 3210, 4010, 6280, and 6461; in addition, we have various required Differential Equations courses, which could be classified as either Pure or Applied Analysis (2270, 3271, 6340, 6350).  In the long run, we hope to have four active researchers in pure Mathematical Analysis, but for now we request one appointment in Mathematical Analysis.

 

 

2.(i)(c)  Financial Mathematics or Operations Research:

The areas of Financial Mathematics and Operations Research are important to our department in many ways.  They are directly relevant to the largest program in Mathematics and Statistics, which is Mathematics for Commerce.  Besides a 3-year degree, Math for Commerce also has Honours streams in Actuarial Science and in Operations Research, which continue to attract strong students.  The enrolments in the 3-year degree have been declining in recent years, but this seems to be offset by the steady enrolments in related streams of Business & Society (Operations Research, Applied Statistics).  In cooperation with the Canadian Operational Research Society (CORS), we continue to offer our students the opportunity to earn the CORS Diploma by completing a prescribed set of courses en route to their Honours degree, and we have several students each year who do this.  (We note that the natural home for this Diploma at York could be the Management Science division in Schulich, but their students typically do not to meet the CORS qualifications because they do not have enough mathematics and statistics!)  We currently have three 6-credit courses in Operations Research (3170, 4170, and 4570), which are offered every year (with Atkinson offering a second section of 3170 each summer).  However, the only person in our department whose research area is Operations Research is J. Ho, who was hired in 2002; he currently teaches 3170 and 4570, while S. Guiasu (who retired in 2003) continues to teach 4170.  Operations Research is a large field (many universities have a Department of Operations Research), and it is important to hire a second person in this area.

The area of Financial Mathematics has some overlap with Math for Commerce (in particular, courses in Math of Investment and Business Math, as well as some Actuarial courses), but it is more directly essential to our popular Graduate Diploma in Financial Engineering and to our recent Computational Mathematics B.Sc. degree, which has a stream in Financial Mathematics (as well as a stream in Actuarial Math).  Also, Financial Mathematics is an increasingly popular area of Ph.D. research, and we have to turn down many strong applicants for lack of supervisor.  H. Ku (hired in 2002) is the only person in the department whose main research is in Financial Math.  T. Salisbury and D. Promislow have also been active in this area, but they both have other primary areas of research (and Promislow retires in 2004).  M. Morales (hired in 2004 for our Actuarial position) will lend some additional support to this area.  However, the supervisory needs for the Financial Engineering projects will be more pressing once Promislow retires. 

            Finally, in the near future, there will be several retirements of people who have been mainstays of the Math for Commerce program at the undergraduate level:  M. Abramson, P. Olin, D. Pelletier.  We hope that future leadership in this program will come from the young people that we have recently hired (J. Ho, H. Ku, M. Morales), as well as one more person in Operations Research and one more in Financial Math.  Accordingly, for the present, we request one position in either Financial Mathematics or Operations Research.

 

 

 

2.      (ii)  Algebra:

Algebra is one of the two central area of mathematics (analysis being the other).  Our current researchers in core algebra are N. Bergeron (Tier II CRC), R. Burns, Y. Gao, and M. Zabrocki.  D. Promislow and J. Pelletier have also done some research in this area; their retirements, along with that of Burns in 2006, will have an effect on this especially active group.  A group of five researchers is a good long-term goal for core algebra.  Although it is less essential than the areas listed above, we request one position in algebra.

 

 

3.      Mathematics Education:

The joint appointment in Math Education would support our successful M.A. for Teachers program (designed for in-service high school math teachers), our undergraduate courses that are of interest to future teachers (MATH 1580, 1590, and 4100A; note that 1580 will soon be cross-listed with Education), and more generally to support the large number of our majors who are seriously considering a career in teaching.  This position can be considered as a replacement for Pat Rogers, who was cross-appointed between our department and Education, and took early retirement to become Dean of Education at Windsor.  Our next step is to discuss this possibility with the Dean of Education, which has not yet been done.  This appointment is less immediately urgent than the others, but we hope that it can be done within the next few years.