Sunday, August 13, 2017

Solo Trip to Solo 2017

Again this is a post, weeks late. Wanted to write about my trip to Solo two weeks ago but then my mind was occupied with many other things, that I didn't feel like writing. It takes me another trip to Indonesia (to Bandung) to catch that opportunity of writing.

After my trip to Solo last year with my wife and son, I knew I wanted to maintain the relationship with Prof. Cari and Prof. Soeparmi. We had the common aspiration to develop further our theoretical community in our respective roles as academics cum administrators. Thus, when I received another invitation from them early this year for ICSAS 2017, I immediately agreed. In the beginning, I wasn't sure what topic to speak on but after a while, I decided to make a quick review on quantum contextuality noting that 2017 marks 50 years of Kochen-Specker theorem. I was hoping that I get myself updated as well on recent progress for the understanding of contextuality (and perhaps took up a bit more than I can chew).

The trip to Solo coincided with a wedding that my other half had to go. Thus, I went to Solo solo this time. Flights were delayed but this is a small matter. I was thinking that some students will be picking me up at the airport and thus I bought packs of chocs for them to share. Unfortunately, I lost them while waiting for the flight to Solo. When I arrived in Solo, found out that it was Prof. Cari & Prof. Soeparmi that had waited for me at the airport. It was not necessary for them to do so but I'm honoured. Another surprise was during the arrival at the hotel, we were greeted by gamelan music played live. If I had known the gamelan musicians were not playing every night, I would have taken a pic of them playing. This is the gamelan set situated right in front of the hotel lobby.

Even though I was tired, I had to stay up a little bit after checking in, to ensure that my slides are finished (and it wasn't easy reviewing 50 years of efforts of others - I had to gloss over for most of the recent developments).

The venue for the conference is different this time; it was at Hotel Lorin Business Resort & Spa. Some pics below:

Just like last year, the event started with a cultural dance.

I was the first plenary speaker of the event and again like before, they called up the speakers of the first session to the stage facing the audience and conducted questions and answers at the very end of the session. This time, I wasn't shy to ask someone to help take photos of me (thank you). My talk went ok but I knew I don't have much time to deliver as much as I wanted since it is only for half an hour. The other speaker during the first session was Dr. Jaya Murjaya who spoke on earthquake warning system in Indonesia. This topic is much more locally relevant and had most of the questions at the end, while mine had one. Here are some pics.

After the Q&A session, there were prize givings.

The other plenary session had Dr. Alexander Khmaladze (SUNY, Albany) who spoke on digital holographic imaging and Prof. Cari (UNS) who spoke on integrable methods in quantum mechanics. Here are the pics from second plenary session.

The group photo (had to be broken into different sessions):

The two plenary sessions ended with lunch thereafter. I did not go for the rest of the parallel sessions mainly because we had some discussions elsewhere. In the evening we went out for dinner at some popular eatery called Waerong Kroepok, which had live music. Pics below:

The next day was my flight back home in the afternoon. Again Prof. Cari & Prof. Soeparmi took the personal effort to send me to the airport. They also bought a whole box of Solo's famous srabi (was told that it had to be bought as early as 5am in the morning since it will be sold out by 8am). We took some pics in front of the airport.

The flight to Jakarta was again delayed for more than an hour and I was really worried that I will miss he connecting flight to Kuala Lumpur. So when the plane landed, I quickly rushed out to change terminals for the flight home. Luckily the luggage was checked in at Solo all the way to Kuala Lumpur and I do not have to drag it along with me during my rush.

While in Solo, Prof. Cari told me of the real possibility of them visiting UPM in the near future with an entourage of senate members. I contacted CosComm for this and I hope their visit will be realized soon.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Rigidity or Flexibility and Creativity

There was a viral posting on the social media regarding a school test paper on multiplication that has caused a stir including myself. See here as an example. Normally, I do not want to comment on it since people do not usually like having their work to be commented on; what more if it is coupled with many jeering remarks. This has become a trend in the social media. But then, I felt I had to comment at least to voice that one can have a different interpretation to this matter and the student who got two marks could have been given eight marks instead if I interpreted the answer boxes differently. The insistence to have one way of approaching the problem seems to me troubling. And this is not a matter of having good marks for the student or to see who wins the argument. It is the rigidity. Instead of commenting further on the issue, let me just comment on my own experience.

I tend to have issues with certain instructions that tell me how to do my own teaching in some classes. Some of these are cosmetic that in the end one just follows the instruction. But there are others that tend to limit my creativity and what I thought is best in teaching. Particularly with university students which I thought should be independent and critical at some level. For instance, when I teach, I do not like to follow any one single book for the subject I am teaching. I tend to draw my own experience in understanding the subject matter. I do a lot of internalising before I teach a topic and this could involve a wider reading beyond a single book. Again let me recall my own experience with Prof. Herbert Green which has shaped my thoughts. His style of approaching a topic can't actually be found in books and that let me study and form my own ideas in understanding the subject. The other lecturers that I had experienced in Adelaide, Cambridge and Durham are more or less the same in their approaches in teaching. All of them had their opinions on the subject matter for which one can compare these with one's own reading of books elsewhere. Here is a pic of the people at the Department of Mathematical Physics, University of Adelaide and Bert Green is in the middle, which I found recently.

There are of course exceptions like when one is sharing a course with another colleague and you need to standardise the contents to be taught with say from some textbook. Even here, we do not interfere with each other's teaching method and we only meet to agree on the contents that needs to be covered. When developing tests and exam, we just need to agree what can be examined. When we are evaluating the exam scripts, we welcome alternate solutions than the solutions we have prepared for the exams. In fact, we often take note of the students who do so and they are often rare, of course. In the Math Competitions too, they may even award such students who produce original solutions.

I sincerely believe teaching, learning and of course research are activities that involve creativity and thus one should be flexible in ways of approaching them. There is no one standard way of teaching and the students that can come to us are not like factory products to be homogeneously shaped into one style of thinking. As such is my experience, I think the same applies in school. We need to rethink some of the approaches of teaching and workbooks that tend to flood the school students nowadays that have the tendency to remove creativity and joy in learning. Of course, this is only my personal opinion.

But let us see what some studies have said about great teaching:

These practices have evidence in improving learning:
  • teachers' content knowledge and their ability to understand students' understanding and misconceptions
  • strategies in effective questioning and assessment
  • challenge students to understand reason behind a lesson
  • large number of questions and response evaluation
  • space out study and practice on a given topic
  • test them or let them generate answers before they learn a topic

On the other hand, these practices have no evidence in improving learning:
  • lavish praising
  • students discover ideas by themselves
  • group students by their abilities
  • presenting materials according to learners' style.
The whole report can be read here. Even with this, one should not take this as unquestioned gospel. Allow flexibility of ideas and approaches to see what works in the circumstance one is in.

In the end, we will be partly responsible on what we teach students and how they are affected.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Varia: Reblogging and Time to Think

Have stopped blogging for more than a month. Much due to being busy with many duties and among the time-consuming ones are my role as chief editor and examiners to postgraduate theses. I will discuss some of the things that I do, so that people understand (if they wish to). But before that, let me make comments of a few events that I had wished to blog on but was too busy.

First is the Topological Phase Transition workshop that our group went to in Singapore. It was an interesting event whose contents are very much new to us. Some of the things I know were from my past readings when I dabbled into quantum Hall effect and geometric phases. There were two Nobel laureates at the workshop, namely, J.M. Kosterlitz and F.D.M. Haldane (two of the three 2016 Nobel Physics Laureates). Kosterlitz spoke on his personal research experience; graduated as a high energy physicist (on strong interactions, see here) and later joined David Thouless as a postdoc for which they began their celebrated work. It is interesting to note K.K. Phua's remarks on Thouless here. Haldane's talk attracted me most mainly because my research interest in noncommutative geometry which is often promoted as the framework for Planck-scale physics but it has applications to more down-to-earth physics in quantum Hall effect (as early as at least Bellisard's article). In Haldane's description, noncommutativity in "spatial coordinates" arises from the particle-flux composite alluding also to a nonlocal description. Some references of the idea can be found here, here and here. Our group had planned top for a group photo with these Nobel laureates but we only managed to get one with Kosterlitz (only partial group - see below - together with Jorge Jose). We are too embarrassed to actually ask for more photos.

Instead we had a group photo with Mike Gunn, one of the co-chairmen of the workshop. I've met Mike Gunn in the late 1990s when we invited him over to the Physics Department for a local conference commemorating two decades of physics in UPM (probably the only one who understood my talk at the time and asked questions). Him having a very humble personality, we were not too embarrassed to approach him for the photo.

We had a nice chat about progress in our universities and how the ranking mania has affected us (see photo).

Next event, was the workshop we organised on Controlling Dynamics in Mathematical Models of Real Neurons, where we have invited Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sergey Borisenok. I have actually met Sergey in ICREM 5 in Bandung, where he had presented a similar topic on Brain Dynamics. A year later, we invited him over to the institute to conduct two workshops: (i) Workshop on Mathematical Methods in Brain Dynamics, 11-12 June 2013; and (ii) Workshop on Control Algorithms for Quantum Models, 27-28 June 2013. Thus, this is his third workshop here.

Third, is of course our Eid celebrations. We celebrated first in KL and then later in Johor. Here are some pics with my brothers and sister.

Back to matters that occupied my mind in Ramadhan until very recently. Just before my Singapore trip, I had to look into our May issue of Malaysian Journal of Mathematical Sciences. I do this each time an issue is completed (after reviews and author proof-reads), to check that everything is more or less in order before it is uploaded on the web. One of the things that I do particularly check is the references given in each article. For the citation indexers, it is important that the references have the correct volume number, issue number and page/article numbers. As part of the academic publishing community, we have to play our part checking these, and in part to ensure the good quality of the journal. So the work is laborious and network stability is a must. Later if we subscribe to add in DOI numbers to our published articles, then we will also need to put DOIs to the references. So we have plenty to do and hopefully in the future, this work can be distributed among a few. Thus, it is in the best interest of our journal to not reduce the number of staff involved in these. Also, note that in some places/universities, the chief editors are given to academics who do not have other main administrative duties (which is not the case here) and they even have allowances (which is not my concern here, but the workload is).

Another is being examiners for M.Sc. and Ph.D. theses. In the areas of theoretical physics and pure mathematics, there are not many of us in the field in the country that can be examiners (if you put further conditions on the examiners, then the number of potential examiner dwindles down further). Being a theoretical physicist who also dabbles into diverse areas of mathematics, I normally get to read theses in very diverse areas. So for example, theses with odd topics have good probability to be passed to me. So in the last four week or so, I have gone through theses on black hole decays in accelerators (external), fractional integral transforms (internal), and fuzzy soft bitopological spaces (internal). Just yesterday and this morning I have been asked to examine two more PhD theses in materials science, one of which I had to decline. Reading them requires first an understanding of what they do and then critically assess the novelty of their study. This means I had to go through their references quite meticulously. So I had to take some time off from my normal duties to complete reports for the theses examination. If some find me "idle" with respect to my other duties, this is merely me trying to focus and have time to think (this is actually difficult to do these days).

While some may say this is an era of multitasking and we need to adapt to such conditions, such views need to be balanced with articles such as this. If pushed further, let me ask them to consciously think technical topics in parallel in a period of time to see if they can do so effectively.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Going to the TPT Workshop

We (ten of us) are currently in IAS, NTU to attend Workshop on Topological Phase Transitions and New Developments. We got ourselves "invited" when I attended the Meeting on the ASEAN Federation of Physics Associations. Thus, I recommended this to my students and colleagues to attend partly because we have always an interest in topological ideas in physics. Knowing full well that none of my students are really doing research in the topics of the workshop (apart from the idea of using topology), I leave it up to them whether to join or not (no coercion from my part). I am happy that they are willingly enough to join despite that the workshop is in Ramadhan and some of them are leaving their small children behind. It is a sacrifice that one takes in pursuit of knowledge - let me liken this to the scholars of the ancient times where they go on long journeys to study with the masters, leaving their families behind. I remember when I was newly married and we had our first son, I was offered to go to a winter school in Korea under the sponsorship of KOSEF and JSPS. The school was precisely during the Eid period. So when I left for the trip to Korea, all of us were teary-eyed having to spend Eid without being together. But this particular workshop is when I first met Prof. Kwek and Prof. Freddy Zen! I shared a room with Zen and after the school, I kept corresponding with both Kwek and Zen. See how the twist of fate in life.

Note that the organizers have been very kind to us that they have arranged for us to have meals for suhur. This is indeed a pleasant surprise since we did not ask for this. When I met Kwek at the MyQuantum workshop, I told him not to worry about us since we will be mentally prepared and will bring some food with us. I did not know that they would arrange for us a meal as shown below. We must really appreciate this.

I realise that many of my students will not be familiar with much of the content of the workshop. My advice to them is to pick up the ideas first from the talks. Later when there are something that really interest oneself, one can pick up the details and recall back what had been said in these talks. It is important not to be closed minded on the things to learn. Always look for something that can be a possible area for one to explore. You will never know what one ends up with in the future, so it is wise to be open-minded. It is also important to realise that many times in life one ends up in a place that one doesn't plan for and open-mindedness is a preliminary mindset to adaptability. Perhaps this is easier for me to say since I have a very broad interest from the very beginning. When I came back from my PhD whose work is closer to high energy physics, I was asked to look into condensed matter. At the time, I was with Dr. Zainul Abidin Hassan who worked on superconductivity and Hubbard model (who knew Mike Gunn - cochairing this workshop; he actually came to UPM during the Two Decade celebration of the Physics Department). Since my work was related to quantum Hall effect, I easily took up the challenge that led me to my interest in hyperbolic geometry (punctured surfaces). The next instant I got interested in condensed matter is when I join the CMR research group and started exploring geometrical ideas in Jahn-Teller effect. Thus, my familiarity with some of the ideas in this workshop.

It is important to realise some social conditions (and hence trappings) of our intellectual or academic environment. Sometimes it is good to hold the attitude of "what can I contribute" given the circumstance. Beware of the trapping of rebellious backlash against applied sciences when fundamental sciences are given less attention. There is nothing really special between fundamental sciences and applied sciences. It is very much a matter of priorities in the face of given resources. Being in the management for some (looonng) period of time, one understands the importance of both types of sciences. Thus, I always cringed whenever I hear someone pushes the idea of the importance of one type of science over another unconditionally. For instance, many times I hear people saying philosophy or/and mathematics is more fundamental/important than the applied sciences, which led to many questions revolving in my head. How can one compare the importance those who dwell on the trappings of thought processes or those who works on the mathematical underpinnings of reasoning with say those of engineers who builds buildings and bridges for our safety and comfort, or of doctors who save lives. Everyone has their own roles to play and what is more important are the contributions we give to the (appropriate) society. Always remember that it is always easier to complain than to contribute.

Back to this workshop, I believe there is a lot to learn from this workshop. My own experience of the first day has seen me realize connections and learn new developments that I wasn't aware of. Let us take what we can learn and contribute back once we are ready. Finally, let me end this post with many thanks to the organizer for the generous support to our group.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Come June First

Some months back, I have conveyed to my boss that I would like to rest for awhile from the current administrative position when it ends on 31st May. Certainly over the years, I have acquired hypertension and back problem (as early as in the days of ITMA), angina & diseased heart and most recently diabetes. This could be all stress-related and of course, it comes with old age. Thus, me and my other half discussed the matter quite extensively whether I should excuse myself from the Deputy Director position and we thought with the age factor, I should avoid stress as much as possible. Thus, my earlier request if possible.

Nevertheless, today I have been reappointed and the institute is stuck with me around for another two years. The appointment letter came to me actually about two weeks ago. If it had not, I would probably move my things quietly from the office. I would like to thank the university for entrusting me with this position again and I would do my best within the capacity I have. To the staff and colleagues, please bear with me for another two years and I would need your support in making the institute grow further towards all the desired goals. Certainly with the budget cuts and less resources, topped with increasing expectations of the university, there will be challenging times ahead. Let us make the institute ... great again? No, I will not use that Trumpesque phrase. But let us make the institute respectable internally within the university, within the country and abroad.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Way Forward: Quantum Initiative and the Institute

Sometime last week, we had an interesting event of an initiative started by Muhammad Rezal and Cybersecurity Malaysia. The initiative is called MyQuantum (my Singapore colleague seems to like the name). The initiative started perhaps because of the growing concern of Malaysian cryptologists of the growing buzz of quantum computing technology is now already here. A quantum computer can run Shor's algorithm of fast factorization that could render RSA cryptosystem breakable. With headlines like "D-Wave Announces D-Wave 2000Q Quantum Computer and First System Order", "Scientists achieve critical steps to building first practical quantum computer" and "IBM unveils roadmap for quantum computers", they can certainly cause a stir. In fact, in the workshop, Zuriati informed us about IBM is making available its 5-qubit quantum computer for public to experiment on through the web (see also here) and this has actually shown us that IBM quantum computing technology has gone much more beyond than proof-of-principle.

MyQuantum event had two speakers from CQT in Singapore namely Kwek Leong Chuan and Alex Ling. I'm happy that they came. Much earlier, I told Kwek about this initiative and I actually very much hope that he would come given that Kwek was there at the beginning of the quantum information initiatives in Singapore almost twenty years ago. Kwek spoke on atomtronics, a topic I had not heard him speak before, from which I learned they had begun developing atomtronic devices akin to those in electronics. However Kwek told us that the idea is not to replace electronics but to get new devices. It is good that Kwek gave us a talk on this, demonstrating there is more to quantum technology than simply quantum computing and quantum cryptography, a message that was also repeated by Ridza Wahiddin. Alex Ling gave a talk on quantum safe, much to the practicalities in implementing quantum key distribution and of particular interest is putting the technology into space.

Another person that I have suggested to the MyQuantum committee to give a talk is Jesni Shamsul Shaari, a good friend of mine who has done good work on QKD. He gave an entertaining but yet informative talk on the first Malaysian QKD protocol and his latest work on Mutual Unitary Unbiased Bases. The others giving the talks are Muhammad Ridza Wahiddin, Raymond Ooi, Zurita Ahmad Zulkarnain, Nurisya Mohd Shah (representing our group), Muhamad Rezal Kamel Ariffin and Chris Liaw Man Cheon (the last two on post quantum cryptography).

The organizers asked us to give comments on what we think on the initiative and I wrote a few. They are:

  • To have an international advisory committee (Kwek suggested a small one) to ensure genuine progress and new directions.
  • To network with established centres (like CQT for proximity) and have students and researchers worked/trained there.
  • In addition to post quantum cryptography, there should be efforts to understand and to keep updated on quantum algorithms or possibly start research on these as well.
I sincerely hope that this initiative will get through since many "theoretical" initiatives in the past have not been very successful, particular those focusing on centres, labs and institutes. However there are consortiums like NanoMalaysia which could be a model to follow. Another hope is that the initiative is not limited to information security (which would be the main interest of the drivers) but include all the pillars suggested (theory, technology, quantum cryptography and post quantum cryptography) and hopefully more. In other places, quantum information centres are melting pots for physicists, engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists. From the presentations at the workshop, one can hope for a consortium with centres or research labs running across institutions as follows:

  • Quantum optics in University of Malaya
  • Quantum cryptography in IIUM
  • Theory in INSPEM, UPM (and possibly other places)
  • Post quantum cryptography in INSPEM, UPM & Cybersecurity
New research ventures will take time but should not be excluded and there is a lot of room to explore given the appropriate investment.

Sometime before this event, we also had the pleasure to have our newly appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovations visit the institute. He suggested for us to revisit our vision and mission, perhaps doing some roadmapping. Indeed, we have been in existence for 15 years and is now entering the fourth phase (if one takes each phase of five years). Where should we head to? What I would like to see is enhancement of internationalization and interdisciplinary research. For the former, we already had the status of EMS-ERCE and MICEMS establishment. The institute's role in regional development of mathematical sciences should be relooked (one role of ERCE). We should also be aware of the progress made by other ERCEs. With the inclusion of Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB) as an ERCE, we are no longer unique in the South-East Asia region and we should consider how to complement them. It is good that we are co-organising this year's ICREM with ITB and we should take this opportunity to discuss with them on further collaborative ideas. In complementing our roles, I think we should harness whatever strength we have in mathematical sciences research; given respective niche areas of the two institutions (INSPEM, UPM and ITB), the regional community may benefit from the development in these areas. Our close relation with MICEMS should be an added bonus in this respect.

This brings to the discussion of what is indeed our niche areas, what can the institute be identified for. Generally, as I have said above, I would like to see our interdisciplinary or multidisciplincary research to be enhanced and by this, I include the fusion or interplay of mathematics subdisciplines like number theory and geometry etc. Things that I think quite natural to be explored is the interaction between mathematics and engineering (a lot of numerical stuff can be done here), mathematics and computer science (again numerics and possible new areas involving theoretical computer science), mathematics and physical sciences including biological sciences (plenty to explore within theoretical physics and theoretical biology) and even mathematics and social sciences (like complex networks). These ideas however need to be worked on with willing researchers to take up the exploration. This is certainly ambitious but I do not think it is impossible. Let's hope to realise some bits and pieces.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Carving Niche Areas

About two weeks ago, I was invited to a workshop in IIUM called "Workshop on Dynamical Systems and Their Applications in Mathematical Physics, Engineering and Economics" on 15 May 2017. The event is held also in conjunction with the 70th birthday of Prof. Nasir Ganikhodjaev. The invitation was conveyed to me by Dr. Pah Chin Hee. The first thing that went through my mind when I first received the invitation, I'm not really an expert in dynamical systems and was thinking what should I talk about. I do have interest in symbolic dynamics on hyperbolic surfaces and toyed about the idea years before but I have no new results to actually present. Thus,  I fall back to what I know more about, namely quantization relating operator algebraic approach in the research of Prof. Ganikhodjaev and as for dynamical systems, I take it to be represented by the phase space as a (co-)tangent bundle to some configuration space. Most of the materials are just reviews but I include some outlook of the current research on hyperbolic surfaces. Here, I would like not to talk about what I present but the impression I get from the workshop on their research in CTS, IIUM.

Some pics first. Here is Prof. Ganikhodjaev during opening remarks:

Prof. Muhammad Ridza Wahiddin, Deputy rector during the opening:

The papers of Prof. Ganikhodjaev can be found here or here. Prof. Ganikhodjaev have many disciples here and this includes Pah Chin Hee and also Farrukh Mukhamedov who used to be in IIUM but has now left for Emirates.(see incomplete list here). During the workshop, I found many more of their younger staff working on areas of statistical mechanics and operator algebras. It strikes me that they have carved out a niche in these areas. These are actually important areas that go unappreciated particularly in Malaysia. Let me put the rest of the pics before I go on to discuss on what niche area that we have carved out over in UPM over the years.

The group photo:

Myself during own presentation and with the audience:

Prof. Ganikhodjaev donning an Uzbek traditional coat called chapan:

Back to us. Have we carved our own niche? Here, us means our theoretical physics group (perhaps later, I will also ask the same for the institute). What are we known for? I remember a respectable colleague once said that he wasn't sure what I am expert on. In a way, since I came back I have to admit I have been exploring areas. My own formal training is on quantization but I have taken courses in various areas of theoretical physics (including particle physics and general relativity) at Adelaide, Cambridge and Durham. So, I guess, I am pretty flexible in terms of the mathematical tools though my inclination has always been towards use of geometry and topology in physics. Much more generally, I have interest in seeing how abstract ideas get realised in physical systems and besides that I love to see far-flung ideas flock together. So this made me experiment more than others.

Fresh from PhD and back at UPM, I was suggested by a colleague to look into problems of condensed matter, which I did through quantum Hall effect. This led me to hyperbolic geometry, which we studied until now. Initially from the perspective on quantization (which I returned to in the talk at the workshop) but later on proceeded to computation of Maass cusp forms until now. The work could have been an opportunity to collaborate with number theorists. Occasionally, I entertain requests by students and back then many came to me with the interest in philosophy, general relativity & cosmology and Bohmian mechanics. I tried as much as I could to blend these into what I am interested in; at heart I am still very much on mathematical aspects of quantum theory. So when Prof. Kwek suggested I should go into quantum information in my years at ITMA, I readily take it up in areas closer to my interest (at the time I was interested in Kochen-Specker theorem/quantum contextuality; Toh took this up as a PhD student and he still continues in this area). Also the hope is that this area is more relevant to the institute that I was associated to back then (Institute of Advanced Technology). Presently, I am still interested in both quantum contextuality and quantum entanglement, seeking ways to understand it better (note this is much in the physics mode of doing things as opposed to an engineering one, which is dominant in quantum information).

When I join the Institute for Mathematical Research, I was looking for another area to start for which I saw complex networks to be one area that I thought could benefit the institute. Note that this area seems to mix up statistics, graph theory and computation with plenty of applications. I thought that this would be great for an institute that looks for interdisciplinary areas. For me, in a way it is sort of a mixed beginning, I was also looking for other areas in which hyperbolic geometry can be used and saw several papers of Tomasso Aste on hyeprbolic geometry of complex networks. Thus the venture into this. Presently Dr. Chan Kar Tim is taking this up more seriously than me, being computationally trained (through Maass cusp forms) and currently teaching statistical mechanics, complex networks could be a natural evolution of his expertise.

Another academic in our group is Dr. Nurisya Mohd Shah. She began as my M.Sc. student, working on energy eigenequations on hyperbolic surfaces (evolved from the quantization problem). Later I introduced her to the late Prof. Twareque Ali who was also working on quantization and then became his PhD student at Concordia. She worked in noncommutative quantum mechanics, much in the veins of quantization theory with connections to biorthogonal polynomials.

I still take up many students despite my administrative duties but I intend to slow down as I will be retiring soon. They are

  • Zurita Ismail (M.Sc.) on UPM scientific collaboration networks
  • Hafizuddin Mohd Taha (M.Sc.) on complex networks build from triangle groups
  • Ganesh Subramaniam (M.Sc.) on Killing tensors on 5-dimensional space-time 
  • Wan Dimashqi (M.Sc.) on discrete phase spaces and Spekkens toy model
  • Nor Syazana (M.Sc.) on Maass cusp forms on asymmetric hyperbolic tori
  • Siti Aqilah (M.Sc.) on categorical quantum mechanics
  • Sarah Diyana (M.Sc.) on complex networks and stock manipulation
  • Mohd Faudzi Umar (Ph.D.) on noncommutative quantum mechanics and canonical group quantization
  • Umair Abdul Halim (Ph.D.) on symplectic topology on complex projective spaces
  • Ahmad Hazazi (Ph.D.) on complex projective geometry and entanglement geometry
  • M.A. Ahmed (Ph.D.) on lattice gauge theories and quantum information
  • Choong Pak Shen (Ph.D.) on quantum marginal problem and entanglement
Many potential students still come to me but I have started to suggest my younger colleagues to them. I intend to stop taking students at some point in the future dependent on how things evolve. 

So what niche areas can we identify from the above? Lying deep at the core are mathematical structures of geometry, topology, group theory and graph theory. At the outer level one can identify quantum structures, complex networks and to a lesser extent mathematical aspects of relativity and cosmology. I hope that my younger colleagues will evolve this further. Another expansion that I'm still thinking about is the work with MICEMS, which at this stage is still very open (still in discussion).