The Bernhard Neumann Prize
This Prize is awarded for the most outstanding talk presented by a student at the Annual Meeting of the Australian Mathematical Society. The prize is named for Professor Bernhard H. Neumann AC FAA FRS FAustMS (1909–2002), who played a central role in the Society since its founding. As well as having a distinguished research record in group theory, Bernhard Neumann was a strong supporter of programs for talented students at all levels of their mathematical education.
With great sadness the Society recorded the passing of Professor Neumann on 21 October 2002, just a few weeks after presenting this award at the Newcastle meeting of the Society.
- Past winners
- Rules/Value for the B.H. Neumann Prize
- Criteria
- Advice for Student Speakers
- Australian Academy of Science interview with Bernhard Neumann (1998).
Past Winners
1985 | Derek N. Ward | University of New South Wales |
1986 | Anis A. Inayat-Hussain Robert L McIntosh | University of Western Australia Australian National University |
1987 | Eamonn O'Brien | Australian National University |
1988 | no award | |
1989 | Ian S. Barnes | Australian National University |
1990 | Xuan Thinh Dong | Macquarie University |
1991 | Michael Hartley S.O. Warnaar | University of Western Australia Australian National University |
1992 | Jacqui Ramagge | University of New South Wales |
1993 | Maureen Edwards | University of Wollongong |
1994 | Ljijana Brankovic | University of Newcastle |
1995 | May Nilsen | University of Newcastle |
1996 | Ian Wanless | Australian National University |
1997 | Marcel Jackson | University of Tasmania |
1998 | Ruth Corran | University of Sydney |
1999 | Csaba Schneider | Australian National University |
2000 | Andrew Scott | University of Queensland |
2001 | Mark Aarons Stephan Tillman | Monash University University of Melbourne |
2002 | Sivajah Somasundaram | University of Waikato |
2003 | Ben Burton William Hart | University of Melbourne Macquarie University |
2004 | Jonathan A. Cohen | Australian National University |
2005 | Geoffrey Pearce | University of Western Australia |
2006 | Benjamin Wilson | University of Sydney |
2007 | Norman Do Neil Saunders | University of Melbourne University of Sydney |
2008 | Nicole Kleinstreuer | University of Canterbury |
2008 hon.men. | Parinya Sa Ngiamsunthorn Michael Pauley Raymond Vozzo | University of Sydney Univ of Western Australia University of Adelaide |
2009 | Samuel Cohen | University of Adelaide |
2009 hon.men. | Michael Pauley Neil Saunders Melissa Tacey Dan Turetsky | University of Western Australia University of Sydney Australia National University Victoria University of Wellington, NZ |
2010 | Anita Ponsaing | University of Melbourne |
2010 hon.men. | Wendy Baratta Ali Eshragh Ivan Guo Tyson Ritter Roger Senior | University of Melbourne University of South Australia University of Sydney University of Adelaide Australia National University |
2011 | James Wan | University of Newcastle |
2011 hon.men. | Nicholas Beaton Alexander Hanysz Robyn Stuart | MASCOS/University of Melbourne University of Adelaide University of New South Wales |
2012 | Imam Tashdid ul Alam | Australian National University |
2012 hon.men. | Kareem Elgindy David Hartley Yi Huang Saba Majeed Stephen Sanchez | Monash University Monash University University of Melbourne University of South Australia University of New South Wales |
2013 | Adrian Dudek | Australian National University |
2013 hon.men. | Alex Ament Stephen McCormick John Nakhoul Matthew Tam Tri Thang Tran | Australian National University Monash University University of Sydney University of Newcastle University of Melbourne |
2014 | Joshua Howie | University of Melbourne |
2014 hon.men. | Kamil Bulinski Inna Lukyanenko Calum Robertson Cameron Rogers Kyle Talbot Elena Tartaglia | University of Sydney University of Queensland Monash University University of Newcastle Monash University University of Melbourne |
2015 | Murray Neuzerling Matthew Tam | La Trobe University University of Newcastle |
2015 hon.men. | Joshua Howie Adrianne Jenner Brendan Patch Danya Rose | University of Melbourne University of Sydney University of Queensland University of Sydney |
2016 | Hao Guo | University of Adelaide |
2016 hon.men. | Scott Lindstrom Sean Carnaffan Anthony Carapetis Trang Thi Thien Nguyen | University of Newcastle University of Sydney Australian National University University of South Australia |
Rules for the B.H. Neumann Prize
The following rules apply.
- Only students who are members of the Australian Mathematical Society are eligible.
- Student will mean a person studying either full-time or part-time, without age limit. Furthermore the student may be either postgraduate or undergraduate.
- The Prize is to be at a value as determined from time to time by Council and a certificate suitable for framing will be presented.
- The Prize will be awarded at the Society's Annual Dinner, to which the Prizewinner will be invited as a guest.
- All student talks should be scheduled to be given by the day preceding the Annual Dinner so that the Prize Committee can have proper discussion and also so that the Prizewinner can be informed in good time to attend the Dinner.
- The Prize Committee shall be appointed by Council after consultation with the Conference Director.
- The existence of this Prize shall be well publicised in the Conference literature.
- If, in the opinion of the Prize Committee, there are no candidates of sufficient merit, then no Prize will be awarded.
- The cut-off date for eligibility of students for the B.H. Neumann Student Prize should be 3 months after submission of a PhD thesis.
Approved by Council, March 1992.
Value of the B.H. Neumann Prize:
- From 2011 the value shall be $1000 for a single winner or $600 to each person if the prize is shared.
Approved by Council, September 2010.
Criteria — B.H. Neumann Prize
The criteria which the prize committee will use for the award of the B.H. Neumann Prize are:
- the motivation and setting of the general context,
- the methods used to present the material,
- the organisation and structure of the lecture,
- the originality of the substance of the lecture, and
- the rapport with the audience.
Approved by Council, Sept. 1994
Advice for B.H. Neumann Student Prize Talks
The following information, updated in 2017 from that written by the Prize Committee in 1993, provides valuable advice for all speakers at AustMS conferences — not just students!
At each Annual Meeting of the Australian Mathematical Society, students are considered for the B.H. Neumann prize for the most outstanding talk given by a student at the Meeting.
Talks are about communication, and with mathematics (even amongst mathematicians) this is a formidable task. The speaker has to keep in mind that diverse mathematical interests are represented in the audience. So the introduction can afford to be relatively long. Effort has to be made to get as many as possible motivated by a clear simple statement of the problem area.
We have to be realistic about what can be covered and what an audience can absorb in a half-hour talk. Very often we get excited about the solution to a problem and we want to tell about this to the last detail. But be careful, sometimes great discoveries are lost in the complexity of a polished generalisation. The audience has a better chance of catching the excitement of the discovery and valuing it if they can appreciate the first elemental insights which led to the completed work. If you catch the audience's interest then afterwards they will ask for your paper to pursue the details.
Of course it is important that the talk be well prepared. The prize committee is looking for the most outstanding student talk; there is a certain sameness to talks presented using Beamer. Beamer also brings the temptation to paste in too much material directly from a manuscript or to click back and forth looking for a previous definition. A good talk is different in structure from a paper or thesis, and your audience will not appreciate a rushed, compressed version of either. Remember that a picture may be worth 1000 words, either included in slides or drawn by hand, whether to illustrate results or a process. However, make sure that where diagrams have been constructed in Maple etc. that any scale or legend is large enough to be read. Whiteboard talks, when well presented, with planned use of the space, are often well-received; they have immediacy and novelty.
Care should be taken to consider how much formal proof material can reasonably be presented in a half-hour talk. Perhaps the proof of one key result can he presented towards the end of the talk. Preferably such a proof should he given by outline showing how main ideas interact. Remember, the talk is to communicate and create interest in the material. The talk is not successful if the speaker overwhelms the audience with a mass of detail that they could not possible follow even given a much longer time.
Mostly the speaker's concern is with the mathematical content; after all, wrestling with a problem and organizing its solution has been a consuming occupation. The Committee is concerned about the originality of the material and the speaker's contribution to the solution. It is important for the speaker, when setting the problem in context, to explain the work they are building on and to explain the role the speaker played and to mention collaborators. An assessment of the weight of the contribution and an outline of the problems which remain are also of value and help the audience gain some perspective on the depth and relevance of the work. It is useful to illustrate the material with examples because this makes the argument more convincing and is often a point of contact with the audience.
The speaker should try to gauge whether the audience is following the presentation. Of course, it is difficult to present complex material in a restricted time and have concern for audience understanding. Nevertheless, a successful talk depends on it. Audience interest often shows itself in questioning during or at the end of the talk. The Committee is interested to see how the speaker handles questions. One of the most fruitful outcomes of any talk is the building of research contacts.
Finally, all students preparing to give talks should do a "dry run" at their home university well before the conference to a friendly audience containing an experienced speaker and someone not directly in the field. From such a preliminary presentation the amount of material can be checked. This will help to highlight the key points which should be the focus of the talk. Often there will be the discovery that many non-essential side issues will need to be excised to give a clearer presentation in the short time. Necessary revisions can be made. A home audience is likely to be more constructively critical and will play a crucial role in advising about polishing the presentation.
There is a valuable paper written by the master expositor, Paul Halmos, which should he essential reading for all postgraduate students. The reference is "How to talk mathematics'' Notices Amer. Math. Soc. 21 (1974), 155–168.
The following report (in PDF format) was written by Jacqui Ramagge who has been a regular judge for the award (and herself won the award in 1992):