Australian Algebra Group
Executive of the Australian Algebra Group
The current (2024.02.01 to 2026.01.31) Executive Committee of the Australian Algebra Group is
Chair: Melissa Lee (Monash University)
Secretary: Deborah Jackson (La Trobe University)
Treasurer: Marcel Jackson (La Trobe University)
John Bamberg (University of Western Australia)
Heiko Dietrich (Monash University)
James East (Western Sydney University)
Murray Elder (University of Technology Sydney)
AustMS President's Nominee: Brian Davey
History of the Australian Algebra Group
Until 2016, the Australian Algebra Group was known as the Victorian Algebra Group. It has been an official special-interest group of the Australian Mathematical Society since 1988.
The Victorian Algebra Group grew out of the annual Algebra Conference of Victoria (ACV), which had been held since 19831 (with a prequel in 1982). Those conferences took advantage of the large number of mathematicians in Victoria who could claim some algebraic flavour to their work. The intention was to aid these mathematicians and their students to meet each other and discuss their research. Despite the metropolitan universities being located within an hour's travel of each other, and running regular seminar series, there was in practice very little local communication between Victorian algebraists. The Algebra Conferences were run informally, with the venue rotating through La Trobe, Melbourne and Monash Universities and the host university absorbing costs. For this reason they were run on a shoestring, with no registration fees and registrants usually organising their own travel and accommodation.
At the fifth Annual ACV, held at Monash University in 1987, it was agreed that RMIT would join the group as host university for 1988. Gordon Preston asked Kathy Horadam to investigate what avenues for funding support were available to the group from AustMS, with a view to formalising its activities. He felt we were established enough to qualify for Special Interest Group status and further, with an algebraist (Tom Hall) serving on the AustMS Council, would have support from the Society. An application for Special Interest Group status was duly prepared by Kathy and presented to the Secretary of the Society, Walter Bloom, for consideration at the 65th meeting of the Council of the Australian Mathematical Society2. It apparently passed without dissent and on 30 May 1988 Walter informed us the request was approved3 4.
The interim Executive Committee of the fledgeling SIG were Kathy Horadam (Chair), Peter Higgins (Secretary), Graham Clarke (Treasurer) from RMIT, Brian Davey from LaTrobe, Tom Hall and Hans Lausch from Monash, and Chuck Miller from Melbourne5.
In 1992, the name of the annual conference morphed into the Victorian Algebra Conference (VAC), which it remained until 2016.
Since 2006, the best student talk at the annual conference has been awarded the Gordon Preston Prize, which presently stands at $200.
In 2016, the executive of the VAG decided that the Conference and the Group should take on a more national flavour. A name change to the Australian Algebra Group and the Australian Algebra Conference were approved by the council of the Australian Mathematical Society in December 2016.
In keeping with the informal nature of the early meetings, the formal structure has remained very lightweight, with an Executive Committee of minimum size mandated by Council and organisation run by email except for the Annual General Meeting, which is typically held during the annual conference. Running the VAC/AAC is the principal work of the VAG/AAG.
The AAG is presently funded by a grant from the AustMS based on the number of AustMS members who elect to take out membership of the AAG when they renew their AustMS membership.
Some documents related to the formation of the Victorian Algebra Group are attached below.