Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Did this man invent the sprint?

My father was writing a short obituary for a mathematician called Friedrich Hirzebruch. This remarkable gentleman invented a new type of conference called "Arbeitstagung". Quoting from the New York Times obituary:
Dr. Hirzebruch began by establishing an informal yearly mathematical meeting that he called the Arbeitstagung (working meeting), which quickly grew from a group of seven to more than 200 attendees. It was unusual in that it had no programs or invitations. On the first day, the participants would gather in an auditorium and call out topics, which Dr. Hirzebruch would assign to experts in the audience. In the pre-Internet world, this was the best way to keep up with the latest developments.
 Yes, that is no program and no invitations.   We should try that.