Australian Maths Trust


Andrew Kepert was presented with a BH Neumann Award on 21 May at the Boathouse, Canberra. Andrew has been coordinator of both the Secondary and Primary AMC Problems Committees for three years and has worked tirelessly over those years to produce the highest quality problems for the competition. Andrew lectures in mathematics at the University of Newcastle.

Greg Gamble was presented with his BH Neumann Award at a function in Canberra on 15 October. Greg  assisted running the Tournament of the Towns in 2003 and 2004. He took over as the AMOC State Director for WA in 2006 and is now in his 11th year in this role. Greg has inspired many young WA students and has made an enormous contribution to mathematics enrichment and to the AMOC program.

Lim Chong Keang was presented with his BH Neumann Award at the annual AMT awards ceremony in Malaysia on 30 October. Dr Lim is the AMC National Director for Malaysia and has been tireless in promoting the AMC throughout Malaysia. He is highly respected for his involvement in many other Malaysian organisations that promote and develop mathematics.

Following are their citations.

Prof Peter Neumann, Andrew Kepert and Sharyn Fawcett

Prof Peter Neumann, Andrew Kepert and Sharyn Fawcett

Andrew is currently serving on both the Secondary and Primary Problems committees for the Australian Mathematics Competition and is our problems coordinator. Andrew’s first exposure to the AMC was in its very early years, when it was the Bank of New South Wales Mathematics Competition. This was in 1980 while he was a student at Churchlands Senior High School in Perth, WA. In these school years he enjoyed this and other mathematics competitions as he dreamed his way through school, and his success led to his representing Australia at the 1983 International Mathematical Olympiad in Paris, where he won a Bronze medal.

Andrew counts himself fortunate to come from a family with a tradition in academic pursuits in science, technology and mathematics. His great-grandfather was Headmaster at a rural school in Victoria, his grandfather was an engineering educator and leader at Footscray Tech, his parents were both academics at the University of Western Australia, and all four brothers in the family followed the sciences with two now university academics. In the Kepert home, ‘play’ included inquiry and curiosity, building and making, and ‘reading’ included Scientific American magazines (mostly open on those last few pages, thanks to Martin Gardner), maths puzzle books, books on science, books on how to make things, comics and even an occasional novel. Everything had an edge of competition that occasionally erupted into clashes of wills, but never for too long. Parental pressure was reserved for music practice, possibly due to the presence of too many other distractions, and too many other instruments competing for air. All four brothers have successful science-oriented careers, a continued interest in music, well-equipped workshops for building the latest project and remarkably tolerant families.

After school, Andrew enrolled in a Bachelor of Science at the University of Western Australia, majoring in mathematics and computer science. His interest in music continued, playing double bass in orchestras to keep him out of trouble and in pocket money. More significantly, music introduced him to Sharyn, a pianist. They married, finished their degrees, and then moved to Canberra where he commenced PhD studies. Andrew’s PhD supervisors were Rick Loy and George Willis; and, with their guidance, he found some neat things happening in certain types of infinite dimensional topological algebra. His post-doctoral studies took him to five countries in 3 years, before he returned to Australia in 1995 for a position at the University of Newcastle, NSW, where George was a colleague rather than a supervisor.

Andrew was barely off the plane when he was roped into helping with the University of Newcastle’s after-school mathematics enrichment sessions. He enjoyed revisiting pure ‘seat-of-the-pants’ problem solving after many years focussed on abstract mathematics, which led to many other interactions with excited and passionate students over subsequent years. This, and his teaching of Mathematics Education to students over the years, gave Andrew an increasing understanding of the working of the school mathematics curriculum. When asked in 2007 if he would like to join the AMC Secondary Problems Committee, there was no decision to make. He knew it would be a fun and interesting way to repay his debt to the competition. He didn’t know that the committee would be such an incredible and diverse group of people to work with. Nor that the committee still included Warren Atkins, Peter Taylor and John Carty, who he has to thank for the papers he enjoyed a quarter of a century previously. A highlight was the meeting that included Janet Hunt, his favourite teacher from Churchlands and the former WA moderator of the AMC.

More recently Andrew has extended his involvement with the AMC and AMT, coordinating both Primary and Secondary AMC committees and working with Mike Clapper in the preparation of the papers and solutions. He has also led the important exercise of calibrating the papers to ensure that the difficulty levels were meeting targets, providing the committee along the way with a database of previous questions and their performance characteristics. He has also been a regular contributor to our student workshops.

Those of us on the problems committees know exactly how much Andrew contributes, with a constant stream of highly ingenious problems, ‘easy’ solutions to questions the rest of us couldn’t do, and astonishing TeX skills.

Andrew is indeed a worthy recipient of the BH Neumann award for his contribution to Mathematics Enrichment in Australia.

Greg’s fascination with and love for Mathematics began very early. Since both his parents were school teachers and his grandfather was a school inspector, he was, perhaps, genetically pre-disposed in that direction. Over the years, Greg drew inspiration from a number of excellent teachers, each of whom gave something personal that was slightly beyond the school curriculum. Sister Marie-Louise, in fourth grade showed him an interesting variation of the long division algorithm. Michael Duffy in second form (Year 8) gave highly structured lectures where each topic had a number; he can still recall his listing of LAZ (the Law of Addition by Zero). However, by far, the teacher to whom he owed the most, was his fifth and sixth form First Level Mathematics teacher, Father Robert Rippon. His approaches to the teaching of the Chain Rule, Euclidean Algorithm, Complex Numbers and Mathematical Induction still guide him when he teaches these topics today.

During his fifth and sixth form years, Greg was a boarder at Chevalier College in Bowral NSW. It was at this time, on returning home (to Canberra), that he discovered the daily ‘Figure It Out’ puzzle in the Canberra Times compiled by J.A.H.Hunter. One type of problem he found there turned out to be one to which he could apply the Euclidean Algorithm! Greg now has an extensive collection of J.A.H Hunter problems, which were quite varied, never contained errors, always constructed meticulously to have unique answers, and always interesting; many of his problems have featured in Greg’s UWA Academy lectures’ problem sheets, and at least one has featured as a WAJO problem.

Greg started at the University of NSW in 1976. Initially, he was enrolled part-time in an Electrical Engineering BSc, whilst working full-time for the NSW Public Works Department as an Engineering Assistant. After three years, he resigned his job so that he could go full-time at university, and switched to a BE degree and later to a double degree, picking up a BSc degree in computer science. It was Father Rippon who had stimulated Greg’s interest in computing. In sixth form he had invested in an 800-step desktop calculator, and installed on it a ballistics computer game program (back in 1975!). The player input a firing angle for a projectile, and if successful in getting the correct range, 0.377345 was written to the display (you need to read this upside down and remember LED displays to appreciate this).

During his time at UNSW, Greg’s good fortune with inspirational teachers continued: David Hunt ignited his interest in Group Theory and was later his Masters supervisor, Mary Ruth Frieslich gave wonderfully structured courses in Rings and Modules and provided him with the most exquisite notes for Jordan forms, which Greg maintains to this day is the ‘only’ way to teach the topic, and he had Gavin Brown for Number Theory and Euclidean Geometry. What was special about all of them was their passion for their subject, which meant they gave that little bit more when they were teaching it, and left Greg with a similar desire to pass it on. In doing his MMath degree, he was able to marry his interests of mathematics and computing, and it was then that encountered the computer algebra system Macsyma.

After completing BE, BSc and MMath degrees at UNSW, Greg spent one year (1985) at Macquarie University as a full-time tutor. In 1986, he moved on to Melbourne University again as a full-time tutor. During this time, Greg met his wife, Lyndall Andrews, and from 1986 to 1988, he felt he’d found his niche. The university funding cutbacks that hit in 1988/1989 impressed on Greg, however, that he should have been more ambitious, and so in 1990, he and Lyndall moved to Perth, where he started a PhD at UWA (with Cheryl Praeger). In 1991, their son was born, followed by a daughter in 1994. While doing his PhD, his interest in computer algebra developed further, partly through the development of the algebra package Magma, but also by what he learned about permutation group algorithms from Cheryl. Greg finally completed his PhD in 1997, and after various Research Associate level positions at UWA, UQ and RWTH Aachen (Germany), he landed a full time position at Curtin University. Greg now works across both Curtin and UWA.

Greg first became involved with Australian Mathematics Trust activities in 1995, when his PhD supervisor, Cheryl Praeger, introduced him to Elena Stoyanova. At the time, Elena was conducting Mathematics Enrichment classes for high school students at Edith Cowan University and Greg was persuaded to lend a hand. A little later on, Elena’s husband, Lucho and Phil Schultz were conducting a programme for high school students interested in mathematics olympiads, and Greg was invited to lecture. Later that same year, he gave lectures in Number Theory topics, Algebra and Mathematical Induction to UWA’s Academy for Young Mathematicians, a mathematics enrichment programme for high school students, and he continues to assist with this program to this day.

During 2003 and 2004, Greg assisted Jamie Simpson in the running, at Curtin University, of the Tournament of the Towns (a mathematics Olympiad style competition supported by the AMT). He also joined the Problems Committee and assisted in the running of the Western Australian Junior (Mathematics) Olympiad (WAJO) at UWA. Greg took over as the AMOC State Director for WA in 2006 and is now in his 11th year in this role. He has inspired many young WA students and several have gone on to compete in the IMO. Greg takes a great pride in the achievement of these students and I know that they have a great respect for him and the help he has given to them. He is always eager to assist with student workshops in Perth and continues to assist with the translation of ToT papers and to run enrichment programs for WA students.  Greg has made an enormous contribution to mathematics enrichment and to the AMOC program and is, indeed, a worthy recipient of the BH Neumann award.

Dr Lim Chong Keang received his secondary school education from Chung Ling High School in Penang, Malaysia. After completing Form Five (Year 11), he entered Nanyang University in Singapore as a Freshman, majoring in Mathematics. He was awarded a University Fellowship to continue his postgraduate studies in Canada and obtained his M.Sc. from the University of Saskatchewan with a thesis entitled “On Root Systems associated with Generalized Cartan Matrices”. He was then awarded a National Research Council Scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. from McGill University in Canada, with a thesis entitled “Free Pro-finite Groups”.

In 1971, he returned to Malaysia to lecture at the Department of Mathematics, University of Malaya. He was later promoted to Associate Professor and Professor of Mathematics. He has supervised three Ph.D. students and a number of Masters degree students. In 1999, he was elected as the First Fellow of the Malaysian Mathematical Society.

Dr Lim has been an active researcher and has published research papers in local and international journals including the Journal of Graph Theory, Journal of Combinatorial Theory, Discrete Mathematics, Journal of London Mathematical Society, Journal of Australian Mathematical Society, Bulletin of Australian Mathematics Society, Mathematische Zeitschrift. He has served as Editor in local and international Journals including the Bulletin of the Malaysian Mathematical Society, Southeast Asian Bulletin of Mathematics, The College Mathematics Journal (Mathematical Association of America), Graphs and Combinatorics (Springer Verlag). He was also a reviewer for Mathematical Reviews.

During his sabbatical leave from University of Malaya, he has visited many Universities overseas. In particular, in 1974 he was awarded the Danida Visiting Fellowship to do research at Arhus University in Denmark (6 months). In 1979 under the Commonwealth Fellowship, he was a visiting Scholar at Reading University in England (9 months). In 1986, he was a Visiting Professor at Sophia University in Japan (4 months), and a Visiting Scholar at Kobe University (2 months). In 1989, he was invited by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) to visit Waseda University (3 months). In 1992, he was a Visiting Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto, Canada (8 months).

Besides teaching and doing research at the University, Dr Lim is also active in promoting mathematics and the development of mathematics in Malaysia. He was elected as President of the Malaysian Mathematics Society for 5 terms. While he was President in 1973 and 1975, he initiated the National Mathematics Competition and the Malaysian Mathematics Olympiad respectively. The Hua-Lo-Geng Mathematics Competition was also initiated by Dr. Lim (with Dr. Tan) in 1986, and he has been actively involved in until now in its 31st anniversary.

In 1990, Dr. Lim introduced the Australian Mathematics Competition (AMC) to the Chong Hwa Independent High School in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, starting with only 120 students. It is now entering its 27th year of participation, with nearly 10,000 students from Malaysia taking the AMC. Beginning from 2016, the papers (for Malaysia) have included the Bahasa Malaysia (National Language) translation, besides English and Chinese Languages. Dr Lim has been the AMC National Director for Malaysia since 2004.

As Director of the Nantah Education & Research Foundation, he initiated and Chaired the committee for the Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors’ Awrads since 2011. Dr Lim is also active in the South East Asian region, he was elected as Honorary Secretary and later President of the South East Asian Mathematics Society. He also serves in various committees in the United Chinese Schools Associations in Malaysia. Besides chairing the Scholarship Committee, Dr Lim has served as Editor (now as advisor) for the Mathematics Text Books used by the Chinese Independent High Schools throughout Malaysia, and a Board member for the Examination Committee of the Unified Chinese Independent Schools Examination (UEC). Dr Lim is now the Chairman of the Board of Governors for New Era University College, a non- profit community college.