The most intensive research activities of PIMS are the Focus Periods, each covering a specific but substantial area of research in the mathematical sciences, with participants ranging from students to world experts. These programs consist of a group of scientific activities dealing with a specific theme of current importance to Canada and to the discipline in order to achieve the following objectives:
Attract sufficient mathematical expertise to Western Canada for a substantial period of time so that a critical mass of specialists can develop and work together for the advancement of the concerned area.
Bring together researchers working on a common theme but from complementary perspectives in order to create settings for synergistic interactions.
Facilitate the communication of ideas and create opportunities for collaboration between visiting and resident mathematical scientists.
Develop new and thriving areas of mathematical research in Western Canada and introduce Canadian mathematicians to the interesting mathematical problems arising in other disciplines.
Expose graduate students, the scientific community at large, and mathematics users in the private sector to the recent advances in a specific theme of mathematical research and its applications.
Each Focus Period typically includes invited world experts (short- and long-term), workshops and conferences, tutorials and mini-courses for non-experts and graduate students, and public lectures/exhibits (as appropriate).
While PIMS CRGs routinely organize focus periods, which form the centrepiece of the CRGs' activities, PIMS also encourages proposals for focus periods in areas not covered by active CRGs. Focus periods are special opportunity events depending on current mathematical trends and collaborative prospects. They usually take place in the summer and vary in length depending on the discipline.
Proposals are evaluated by the PIMS Scientific Review Panel to ensure the highest scientific quality and appropriateness of the subject. Once approved, the Focus Period and scheduled events are widely advertised.