The 2011 MA Conference was held at the University of Loughborough during the period Thursday 14-Saturday 16 April. It proved to be enormously successful.
The Annual Conference is the last event in the term of office of each MA President, in this case David Acheson. David put a huge amount of work into the organisation of the conference. In particular he chose the theme of the Conference Mathematics: The Big Picture and was instrumental in putting together a splendid programme covering a wide range of topics which catered for the Primary, Secondary, Post-16 and Tertiary sectors as well as providing sessions of general mathematical interest. Topping and tailing the conference were Matt Parker and Lynne McClure. Matt got things off to a flying start with 28 Reasons to Ignore the Textbook, 28 being, of course, a perfect number. Lynne brought proceedings to a close with a fascinating lecture entitled The Big Picture: Does it Matter Where You're Standing ?. This included video clips starring, among many others, her mother, who was a primary teacher when class sizes were as large as 60, and one of her grandchildren. In between there was a remarkable Primary Special from the dynamic duo of Rob Eastaway and Andrew Jeffrey.
The Presidential Address was a tour de force. David had chosen the title What's the Problem with Maths ? which allowed him to give some forthright views on the current scene. In between, we had delights such as the famous inverted pendulum experiment and, of course, "the 1089 trick". To conclude, having discussed vibrating strings, David played one of his own compositions on electric guitar.
The after-dinner speaker at the Conference Dinner was James Grime, who is rarely seen without an Enigma Machine. The previous evening we had another of David's brilliant ideas. Adjacent to the bar, delegates were asked to make a case for what they considered The Best Piece of Maths Ever. Each contestant was given two minutes and their only prop was a single OHP acetate. 31 people took part with topics ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Everyone entered fully into the spirit of the thing and a great time was had by all.
It was good to see many old friends again but it was also good to see a lot of new faces. We hope that they enjoyed themselves and will join us again next year and for many years to come. The 2011 MA Conference will go down in history as one of the best ever. Its success owes much to Bill Richardson, as Chair of Conferences, and, especially, to Marcia Murray and her team at MA HQ to whom we extend heartfelt thanks. It is also a fitting tribute to David Acheson and epitomises the major contribution he has made to all aspects of the work of the MA during his Presidency. This was recognised by the prolonged ovation at the end of his Presidential Address. We thank him most sincerely and extend our best wishes for the future.