I spent three weeks in March in Vietnam, visiting several universities and getting to know a number of mathematicians. The first week was spent at an International Conference on High Performance Scientific Computing in Hanoi. This was the sixth conference in a series that started in 2000 and has been held every three years since. Organized in collaboration with the University of Heidelberg, it attracted many researchers from Germany, but also from many other countries and featured a number of excellent talks by local researchers as well as many high profile invited speakers. I spoke in a minisymposium organized by Rolf Jeltsch, an old friend and former colleague at ETH-Zurich.
The weekend after the conference there was an organized weekend trip to Ha Long Bay, a 3-hour bus ride from Hanoi. The bay is full of magnificent karst formations and the islands have extensive limestone caves that are also amazing.
The second week I spent at Vietnam National University in Hanoi where, in addition to a seminar talk on tsunami modeling, I also gave about 13 hours of guest lectures in a course on Finite Difference Methods for Ordinary and Partial Differential being taught by Nguyen Trung Hieu. Somehow the students survived and were even smiling at the end.
The University of Washington has close ties with this university thanks to a grant from the Vietnamese government supporting interchanges, and I’m the fourth member of my department to visit the university in Hanoi. About 10 members of the Mathematics faculty in Hanoi have also visited UW for several months at a time, to sit in on classes and engage in research. In fact two weeks after leaving Hanoi I ran into two professors and a graduate student from this department on my flight from Seoul to Seattle.
After two weeks in Hanoi and a brief visit to Hue, I spent another week in Ho Chi Minh City and gave a talk at the University of Science, another branch of the extensive Vietnam National University. I also spent some time with Mai Duc Thanh from the International University, a student of Philippe LeFloch’s who works on hyperbolic problems, including shallow water equations over bathymetry.
In the photo he’s sitting by the Saigon River, which we were watching flow with a strong current upstream due to the tide, even 60 km from its outlet in the South China Sea. The entire Mekong Delta region is so flat that flooding is a major problem and storm surge modeling is of great interest. Tsunamis are also a potential hazard, although there hasn’t been a major one recently on this coast.