A Very Short History of the NSW ANZIAM Branch: The 1970s

By Mark Nelson

Link to the main page about the NSW ANZIAM branch.

A quick overview

The Sydney branch of ANZIAM was formed in 1974, most likely sometime between August and November. The branch was very active in organising a variety of activities in 1974 and over the years 1976-1978. In 1979 the branch organised the annual ANZIAM meeting.

When was the branch formed?

The Sydney and Victorian branches of ANZIAM are the oldest branches of ANZIAM.

According to Braddock (1983, page 21) both were holding meetings as early as November 1973, operating before ANZIAM was formed as a division of the Australian Mathematical Society. Braddock also states that these branches were recognised as being `active' at the 1974 ANZIAM conference (Braddock 1983, appendix E). The division of Applied Mathematics itself was formed following a ballot of members of the Australian Mathematical Society in 1974. It was formally setup and launched at the 1975 ANZIAM conference (Braddock 1983, page 21 & appendix E).

Contradictory, Braddock (Braddock 1983, page 22) notes that the Sydney and Victorian Branches started in 1974/5. So when was the NSW ANZIAM branch formed? Does the constitution of the branch shed any light on the matter?

The first thing that the constitution reveals is that the NSW ANZIAM branch is a comparatively late comer to the ANZIAM constitution. The branch was not originally named the "NSW branch of ANZIAM", rather it was called the "Sydney branch of ANZIAM". The constitution of the Sydney branch was adopted in May 1977 (constitution). It was not until March 2002 that the name of the branch was changed to the "NSW branch of ANZIAM" (constitution) 1. As an aside, the ballot to change the constitution was an electronic ballot; perhaps the first use of an electronic ballot within ANZIAM or the Australian Mathematical Society. However, the use of an electronic ballot to make a constitutional change was surely unconstitutional. Rule 27 of the amended constitution states that

27. Any question concerning an alteration of this set of Rules of Procedure shall be decided by a special Postal Ballot of all Members of the Branch. All decisions made as the result of this Ballot shall be subject to an approval by the Division.

Is there any other evidence as to when the "Sydney branch of ANZIAM" was formed?

A news item detailing the first two talks organised by Sydney area members of the Division of Applied Mathematics (Anonymous, 1974) appeared in the Australian Mathematical Society Gazette in December 1974 (Volume 1, Number 3). This suggests that the first activities were organised sometime between August 1974, when the preceding issue of the Gazette, was published and November 1974. These dates are consistent with the branch being setup before the 1975 ANZIAM conference and possibly with it being setup before the formation of the division of Applied Mathematics (sometime in 1974). It seems very likely that Braddock's attribution that the branch was holding meetings as early as November 1973 is simply a typo.

Therefore I conclude that the "Sydney branch of ANZIAM" was setup in 1974 and that the "NSW branch of ANZIAM" was formed twenty-eight years latter in 2002.


Sydney area members of the Division of Applied Mathematics have formed a local branch of the Division and will meet approximately once a month during the academic year to hear talks on applications of mathematics in various fields. The October talk by Professor J.M. Blatt was "How to find the zeroes of a function"; the November talk by Professor P.R. Wilson was "What have sunspots got to do with applied mathematics?". For further information about the Sydney branch, contact the Secretary, W.B. Fraser, Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Sydney, Sydney, N.S.W. 2006.

The Australian Mathematical Society GAZETTE. Volume 1 No. 3, December, 1974. Page 94.


Sydney Branch Committee
Chairman A.H. Klotz University of Sydney
Secretary D. Cole Department of Science
Members R. Aus High School
P.W. Buchen University of Sydney
A. Fenwick Navy Research
A.T. Johnson Sydney Teachers College
A. Manton CSIRO
ex Officio V.T. Buchwald UNSW

Meeting held 7/4/76.A.T. Johnson spoke on "Can School Mathematics be Applicable?". The answer based on a very interesting case studies from the UK appears to be emphatically in the affirmative.

Plans for 1976-1977.General Theme: teaching of applied mathematics.

  1. Meeting on 9th June, 6pm., Carlsaw Building, University of Sydney.
    V.T. Buchwald on "Role of Applied Mathematics in Tertiary Education".
  2. (Symposium on Fluid Mechanics at University of New South Wales, first week in July. Secretaries: Drs Manton and Banner).
  3. Meetings in August and September. One day symposium on Teaching, end of September at University of Sydney.

Points and Aims suggested by the Committee:

  1. evolving an "evolved study" course in applied mathematics for 12th year of school.
  2. compiling a register of jobs available to applied mathematicians or taken up by them.

The Australian Mathematical Society GAZETTE. Volume 3 No. 2, September, 1976. Page 58.


  1. Meetings and Functions Held in 1977.

    The year 1977 was by and large a quiet one, though the Branch continued with the successful format of previous years; viz informal get-togethers plus 1-day symposia on specialised topics.

    1. The Annual General Meeting in August was extended to a wine-and-cheese affair. Professor R.I. Tanner was invited so speak on

      "The Role of Computers in Engineering Education".

      The Divisional amendments to the Sydney Branch Constitution were noted and recorded in the Minutes.

      The 1978 Committee was elected as follows:
      Chairman Professor R.I. Tanner Mech. Eng., USN
      Secretary Dr P.W. Buchen Appl. Maths., USN
      Treasurer Professor V.T. Buchwald Theor. & Appl. Mech., UNSW
      Committee Members Dr D.G. Cole I.P.S., Dept. Science
      Mr A.T. Johnson Maths Dept, S.T.C.
      Dr A.H. Klotz Applied Maths., USN
      Dr C. Scott Mech & Indus Eng., UNSW

    2. A successful 1-day symposium on

      "The Theory and Practice of Optimisation"

      was held on 18th November at UNSW and was ably organised by Dr K.L. Two. Some 55 participants attended. The 5 invited speakers were:
      1. Dr B. Murtagh (UNSW) - "The Current State of Nonlinear Programming"
      2. Dr B. Whan (CSR) - "Optimization in Agricultural Planning"
      3. Dr S. Cumming (BHP) - "Practical Problems in Large-Scale Statistical Analysis for the Steel Industry"
      4. Dr G. Couch (Electrical Commission of NSW - "Some Avenues of Application of Optimization to Electric Energy Systems"
      5. Mr A. Fitzpatrick (Bureau of Transport Economics, Canberra) - "The Assignment of Interdependent Facilities between Two Locations".
    3. The Branch held a pre-Xmas get-together (wine and cheese) on 12th December. Professor V.T. Buchwald initiated a lively discussion on "Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and the HSC".

The Australian Mathematical Society GAZETTE. Volume 5 No. 2, August, 1978. Pages 59-60.


(continues from list of 1977 activities)

  1. Planned Activities for 1978
    1. In conjunction with the Applied Mathematics Department of Sydney University, the Branch will help to organise the First K.E. Bullen Memorial Lecture on 16th February.

      Professor G.P. Carrier (Harvard) will deliver the lecture entitled "The Future of Applied Mathematics in Education and Research"

    2. Two 1-day symposia are planned. One on "Numerical Techniques; Theory and Application" for April. The other on "Biomathematics" for November.
    3. The Branch will no doubt be extremely busy, in addition, with the organisation of the 1979 Divisional Conference. ((On page 56 of the same issue, Dr P.W. Buchen is listed as the Conference Secretary for the 1979 Applied Mathematics Conference)).

The Australian Mathematical Society GAZETTE. Volume 5 No. 2, August, 1978. Page 60.


When ANZIAM is organised from within NSW it is not usually organised by the branch but by a group principally from one university. However, in 1979 ANZIAM was organised by the Sydney Branch of the division of applied mathematics.

Organisers of early ANZIAM meetings held in NSW. (Braddock, appendix D).
Year Main organising group
1972 University of Wollongong
1973 Newcastle University
1976 CSIRO
1977 University of New South Wales
1979 Sydney Branch
1982 University of Wollongong



ADFA Australian Defence Force Academy
ANSTO Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
ANU Australian National University
ANZIAM Australia and New Zealand Industrial and Applied Mathematics
ANZIAM is a division of the Australian Mathematical Society (AustMS).
BOU Bond University
CSIRO Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
DSTO Defence Science and Technology Organisation
MQU Macquarie University
UNC University of Newcastle
UND University of Notre Dame
UNSW University of New South Wales
UNSW at ADFA University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy
UNSW, Canberra University of New South Wales, Canberra
UoW University of Wollongong
USN University of Sydney
UTS University of Technology, Sydney
UWS University of Western Sydney


Martin Bunder let me borrow his collection of issues of the Australian Mathematical Society Gazette as detailed below.

Geoff Mercer read through the constitutions of all the state branches of ANZIAM.

I emailed several individuals to see if they had any memories of NSW ANZIAM in the 1970s. Ian Sloan was the only one to reply (see below for his comments).

Missing information

There is a large amount of missing information about the activities of the NSW ANZIAM branch in the 1970s. It is very unlikely that it will be possible to track this down. It is possible that pertinent information might be formed in the minutes of the ANZIAM AGM. However, it appears that ANZIAM has made no attempt to keep minutes of its AGMs.

I contacted Ian Sloan to see if he had any recollections of the early days of the branch. He informed me that I was significantly involved with ANZIAM itself (or rather its predecessor) from around 1976, but not directly with the NSW branch. I did attend some annual meetings, though, from memory of which I would say that the branch was for many years close to inactive (Sloan, 2012) .


  1. In 2009 the secretary of ANZIAM (Geoff Mercer) kindly checked the constitution of all the branches of ANZIAM: no other branch has had a name change. Geoff notes that the other branches were all sensible inclusion names from the start. Says something about Sydney-siders... (email. 12.02.2009)



ANZIAM Australia and New Zealand Industrial and Applied Mathematics


This shows the sources that I have used to write part one of this series. (Not necessarily very accurate, as I don't always remember to update things).

  1. Anonymous. (1974). News item reported in The Australian Mathematical Society GAZETTE Volume 1, Number 3, December 1974, page 94.
  2. Australian Mathematical Society Gazette. Volume 1 (1974), 2 (1975) Number 1 (May) to 3 (December), 3 (1976), 4 (1977) Number 1 (April) to 3 (December), 5 (1978) Number 1 (April) to 3 (December), 6 (1979) to 7 (1980).
  3. I believe that the missing issues 2(4), 4(4) & 5(4) only contained a membership list of the Australian Mathematical Society, i.e. they are not a source of `missing' information.

    A detailed reading of the Gazette might reveal more information about the branch. Due to lack of time I have not examined each issue in detail.

  4. Braddock, R.D. (1983). An Anecdotal History of the Applied Mathematics Conference and the Division of Applied Mathematics.
  5. You can download this document from the ANZIAM web-page at http://www.anziam.org.au/myfiles/uploads/AMC-1966-1984.pdf.

  6. Constitution of the NSW Branch of ANZIAM. Amended March 2002.
  7. You can view the current constitution of the branch at: https://www.anziam.org.au/ANZIAM+New+South+Wales+Branch+-+Rules.

  8. Sloan, Ian. (21st November 2012). I asked Ian if he remembered anything about the `early days' of the NSW ANZIAM branch.

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Page Created: 23rd January 2018.
Last Updated: 15th November 2018.