Workshop on Groups and Graphs


Varna, Bulgaria, August 31 - September 6, 2002


Daniela Nikolova

An EWM Workshop on Groups and Graphs took place in the International Home of Scientists "Fr.J.Curie" in Varna, Bulgaria, from August 31 till September 6, 2002. The Program Committee was international:

  1. Cheryl Praeger, President, University of Western Australia;
  2. Jennifer D. Key, Clemson University, South Carolina, USA;
  3. Valerie Berthe, University of Marseille, France;
  4. Sarah Rees, University of Newcastle, UK;
  5. Karin Gatermann, Konrad-Zuse-Zentrum, Berlin, Germany.

The Local Organizing Committee was from the Institute of Mathematics and Informatics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences:

  1. Daniela Nikolova - President;
  2. Svetlana Topalova - Secretary;
  3. Milena Dobreva;
  4. Blajka Radeva.

An interesting feature was that the Invited Speakers were women only, specialists in the field from Canada, Australia, Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, Malta, and Bulgaria:


  • Professor Irene Sciriha, Univ. of Malta, Malta, (Polynomial Reconstruction-Old and New Techniques);
  • Professor Dr. Wendy Myrvold, University of Victoria, Canada (Counting Small Latin Squares);
  • Associate Prof. Dr. Valerie Berthe, University of Marseille, France (Free Group Automorphisms and Tilings);
  • Associate Prof. Dr. Sarah Rees, University of Newcastle, UK (How Hard is the Word Problem?);
  • Associate Prof. Dr. Karin Gatermann, Konrad-Zuse-Zentrum, Germany (Graph Theory Applications in Chemistry);
  • Associate Prof. Dr. Rachel Camina, University of Cambridge, UK (Linearity of pro-p groups);
  • Associate Prof. Dr. Daniela Nikolova, Institute of Mathematics and Informatics, Bulgaria (Finally Presented Groups);
  • Associate Prof. Dr. Stefka Bouyuklieva, Veliko Tarnovo University, Bulgaria (Automorphism groups and self-dual codes);
  • Associate Prof. Dr. Svetlana Topalova, Institute of Mathematics and Informatics, Bulgaria (Groups of automorphisms and enumeration of combinatorial designs).

Each one of the Invited speakers was a Chair of a Session, where talks were given by representatives of the two genders. The scientific programme was most interesting. It was devoted to recent results and approaches in Group Theory and Graph Theory. The contributed talks contained original unpublished results. An accent was given to the various applications in related subjects such as Combinatorics, Coding Theory, Cryptography, Number Theory, Applied Mathematics, Chemistry, etc. A special session was devoted to the contemporary subject Gender Studies, recently developed in the European countries, in which the interests, the number, and the realization of the two genders are analysed. The representatives from Malta, France, Germany, Great Britain and Bulgaria shared their experience in the field.

The conference succeeded to attract leading experts in the area such as Prof. Ted Hurley (Ireland), Prof. Christoph Hering (Germany), Prof. Reinhard Laue (Germany), Prof. Leonid Potyagailo (France), as well as young mathematicians. There were 28 lectures from 11 countries, which is very promising for the future intensifying of the research contacts and for the elaboration of a scientific network between the participating institutes and centres.

The Proceedings of the conference were published before the beginning of the conference (ISBN 954-8986-11-6).

The Organizers also succeeded to acquaint the participants (most of them being for the first time in Bulgaria) with the history, the places of interest, and the traditions of the country: an excursion to the Palace of the Rumanian Queen in Balchik and the botanic gardens, a boat trip and a dinner with traditional dancing over glowing embers took place. The weather was more than friendly permitting the guests to enjoy the sea atmosphere, the park, and the mineral water springs of this region of the Bulgarian Black sea coast. A friendly celebration was organized on the occasion of Daniela Nikolova's 50th birthday.

Announcements and reports about the event already appeared in the EMS Newsletter, 44, 2002, in the UK Women in Mathematics' Newsletter, September 2002, and in The Journal of The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1, 2003. Special thanks go to UNESCO (UVO-ROSTE), the Union of Bulgarian Mathematicians, EWM, and the UK branch of EWM who supported this meeting, as well as to the Administration of the International Home of Scientists for their help in the organization and the nice accommodation.


Christine Charretton

The European Women in Mathematics International Workshop on Groups and Graphs took place near Varna in Bulgaria from August 31 to September 6th 2002. Varna is an important bulgarian harbour of the Black Sea; the conference was located in the Frederic Joliot-Curie Centre, a place in a beach resort for scientific meetings and for holidays of scientists. The conference has been organized by women colleagues of the Institute of Mathematics and Informatics of the Bulgarian Academy of Science. The topics were groups and graphs with problems in coding theory or in combinatorics like designs; some lectures were very theoretical and others more applied to several fields as computer science or even chemistry.

About fifty people were attending the conference - women or men; they came from several parts of Europe as Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Malta and UK... For most of the non-bulgarian people, it was the first time to discover the Black Sea; with our hotel being very close to the sea, during the free moments we could go to have a swim or a walk along the sea. Despite the difficulties of the scientists in Bulgaria the conference was perfectly organized; good scientific lectures as well as very pleasant and warm atmosphere permitted many exchanges about maths or simply about the life!

One afternoon was devoted to the "Women in Maths and Science" subject. Situation in western part and eastern part of Europe are quite different. In the former socialist Bulgaria, science was very popular; boys and girls were attracted to maths by means of mathematical clubs, games and competitions. Many women came to science in academic positions or as engineers in industry in such great number that it could have appeared, in a first glance, to western people as an "equal opportunities" enjoyable situation, especially in this moment where less and less students come to science in western Europe. But reality was of course not so pleasant: there were difficult work conditions , especially in industrial plants, and this permanent ceiling glass which was keeping most of the women very low in the hierarchy even when they were numerous as in Bulgaria. The nowadays situation of bulgarian women in science suffers of the present economical difficulties of the country: on one side they are still a very strong part of the academic life but, due to the very low salaries, going on their scientific work means - for men and women - to be obliged to take two or three different jobs to support their families or even survive.

from Saturday, August 31, 2002 to Friday, September 6, 2002