I had an exhausting, but fruitful week in Maynooth for 2018’s conference on Integrating Formal Methods.


First off, the Maynooth University campus has some beautiful buildings. I was staying on the older, South Campus, in Saint Patrick’s College, and got some lovely views of the beautiful squares and college buildings.

For example this view of Saint Joseph Square on the South Campus… Picture of the view of Saint Joseph Square, South Campus, Maynooth University

And this view of Saint Mary’s Square and the College Chapel, also on the South Campus…

Picture of Saint Mary's Square and College Chapel, South Campus, Maynooth University

This beautiful tree-lined walk leads to the College Graveyard…

Picture of a tree-lined walk towards the Saint Patrick's College Graveyard, South Campus, Maynooth

As a small town with a fairly large university campus, Maynooth reminded me a little of St Andrews; the newer buildings of the North Campus reminded me a lot of the University of York (but then again, having spent so much time there, a lot of things do).

The (fantastic) local organisers had arranged a tour of the Saint Patrick’s College chapel and the Russell Library. The chapel is ornately beautiful, and we got a short guided tour…

Picture of Saint Patrick's College Chapel roof

Picture of Saint Patrick's College Chapel organ

Picture of Saint Patrick's College Chapel lady chapel

In the Russell Library we got an interesting introduction to the library and its collections…

Picture of the Russell Library, Maynooth

We also got to see (and gently handle) copies of Newton’s Pricipia Mathematica

Picture of the title page of the Russell Library's copy of Newton's Principia Mathematica

Picture of an inside double-page spread of the Russell Library's copy of Newton's Principia Mathematica

and Euclid’s Elements

Picture of an inside double-page spread of the Russell Library's copy of Euclid's Elements

which the lovely library archivists had laid out for us.


The conference itself was held on the North Campus, a short walk away from where I was staying, in the Iontas Building (which I was reliably informed is pronounced ‘een-thas’ and is the Irish word for wonder).

I was very happy to go back to iFM, this year. I’d last been to iFM 2016 in Reykjavik and found that I’d really enjoyed the mixture of papers being presented. The conference’s focus on integration of formal methods means that the presentations often tackle intriguing problems that require either components of several languages or are best served by combining (often) a diagrammatic notation and a formal language. It also doesn’t feel as serious as other conferences often do.

My trip to iFM 2016 was to present the last paper written during my PhD, this trip was for the first paper of my new job – a nice little symmetry, I thought. The paper was written by my new research partner, Marie Farrell, and me; aided by our boss, Michael Fisher.

We were given the less-than-lovely presentation slot of last-thing on the middle day of the conference. It was the end of the day, so people were tired and also had been drinking the night before (I’m looking at you Marie!). But Marie, who was giving the presentation since she’s first author, was brilliant.

And despite some chocolate-based competition on the final day of the conference…

She ended up winning the Best Presentation Prize!

Picture of Marie's Best Presentation Prize Certificate

As with all conferences I got to talk to lots of interesting people and see them present their work, including an update from my PhD supervisor…

…who seems to following me (or is it the other way around?)

All in all, it was definitely worth the trip!