In May and June 2014, the IMA held a three-week New Directions Short Course on Topics in Control Theory. Declared a success by organizer Tryphon Georgiou of the University of Minnesota, participants came with varied backgrounds in math, physics, computer science and engineering. Such diversity demonstrates a great interest in concepts and techniques from this branch of math, which is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary. For example, control theory has taken a prominent role in medical imaging, which helps improve the diagnosis of health issues. At the same time, trends in the field are influenced and inspired by other disciplines. As a result, the systems and control community is rapidly broadening its scope in a variety of directions. With its mixed focus, the short course was just a taste of what’s to come in the 2015-2016 academic year as the IMA’s Annual Thematic Program will be on Control Theory and its Applications.
Allen Tannenbaum of Stony Brook University, and a speaker at the short course, is one of the year’s organizing committee members along with Georgiou. “If you look now around the world, both theoretically and applied, it’s a very, very active area,” says Tannenbaum. “And so, Tryphon and I tried to invite a smorgasbord of some of the best researchers to this workshop.” The topics covered in the short course will be revisited in greater depth through workshops being planned for the duration of thematic year.
The IMA program is designed to encourage true interdisciplinary research and the cross-fertilization of ideas. An important element for success is that ideas flow across disciplines in a timely manner and that the cross-fertilization takes place in unison. “The IMA is in a unique position to do this,” says Tannebaum. “The people involved from government, industries and universities will make a very, very successful year. That’s our hope. And so [the short course] was really the opening shot.”Stayed tuned as more information becomes available on the IMA website.