IMU-Net 26: November 2007
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IMU-Net 26: November 2007

A Bimonthly Email Newsletter from the International Mathematical Union
Editor: Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel, Universit&eacute René Descartes, Paris, France


  1. Editorial
  2. Stable IMU infrastructure
  3. IMU on the Web
  4. Associate members of IMU
  5. Schools of Mathematics in Latin America
  6. CIMPA
  7. Ramanujan Prize
  8. Bolyai Prize
  9. Subscribing to IMU-Net


The IMU aims to promote and represent Mathematics at the global scale, in a
world where mathematicians move and collaborate freely across national
In the past, substantial work and diplomatic skill were employed to try and
bring to the Union's fold countries separated by world political tensions,
and establish IMU as the truly international body it now is. In retrospect,
progress has been remarkable, particularly dealing with the most developed

But much has yet to be done for the IMU to achieve comparable presence in
the developing world. The 2006 General Assembly (GA), held at Santiago de
Compostela, recommended that the role of IMU in support of Mathematics in
the developing world be enhanced and expanded. This is a different kind of
challenge, and one that is very much on the mind of the Executive Committee.
A number of initiatives are currently under way to address it.

In line with the report presented at the GA 2006 by the Developing Countries
Strategy Group (DCSG), a Committee for Developing Countries (CDC) has been
created with the mission to devise new initiatives of the IMU in developing
and economically disadvantaged countries, to search for funding to support
the corresponding activities, and to establish institutional partnerships
with scientific organizations with common goals. The CDC is to continue and
further develop the programs that have been previously run by the Commission
for Development and Exchange and by DCSG.

The EC is actively promoting applications for membership of new countries,
from all regions of the globe. An important new instrument has been created
by the GA to ease adherence of economically disadvantaged countries: countries
that have never been members of the Union may now join as Associate Members,
without financial dues nor voting rights, for up to 8 years, after which they
are expected to become full members. A few countries have applied under this
instruments, and several others are being encouraged to do it.

The EC is also strongly committed to continued improvement of geographical
balance in the Union's activities, aiming for a more correct representation
of mathematicians working in developing countries in all the Union's
activities, both from the organizational and the academic point of view.

Marcelo Viana
Executive Committee Member

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2. STABLE IMU INFRASTRUCTURE Stable IMU infrastructure

The 15th IMU General Assembly recommended that the 2007-2010
IMU Executive Committee (EC) "studies the establishment of
a stable administrative structure and funding mechanisms,
including possible fund raising, for the support of the
expanding IMU activities, and reports to the 2010 General
Assembly with concrete proposals."

The IMU EC has now started the search process for a sustainable
location with associated suitable infrastructure at which the
IMU secretarial staff could reside for a (long) period of
time, and at which the costs of running the IMU operations
is either low or covered by some long term grant/subsidy or
the like.

The IMU EC solicits initial proposals and recommendations from
interested institutions and organizations for the location of
such an office. Suggestions and declarations of interes are
requested by the end of January 2008 to the IMU Secretary
( For more details see

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It's hard to argue against having more access to scholarship. On the
other hand, it can be bad if it causes us to ignore the real problems
we face, and it can be tragic if new enticing technology combines with
an irresistible fad to mislead us into acting against our own
interests. Open access has had both affects on scholarly publishing.
When planning for our digital future, we spend most of our time
talking about access (already greatly improved) and almost no time
talking about the integrity of scholarship, copyright issues, foolish
bureaucrats who use faulty statistics, or (worst of all!) avaricious
publishers who have created a crisis in scholarly publishing. Instead,
we talk about access.

BUNDLING OF JOURNALS almost always involves multi-year contracts that
don't allow cancellations or changes. The extra titles are often only
of marginal value to scholars. Decisions about what is purchased are
made at a high level, far removed from scholars themselves, and most
importantly far removed from the individual disciplines. In the end,
big deals make it more difficult for scholars to make sensible
decisions about journals based on price and need. Of course, big deals
give the big publishers a substantial advantage over little publishers

WHY WE SHOULD WORRY ABOUT AUTHOR-PAY.  In the subscription model,
users and librarians make decisions; in the author-pay model, authors
and publishers make them. To succeed in the subscription model, a
journal must secure enough subscriptions by convincing users and
librarians that it has intellectual value. To succeed in the
author-pay model, a journal must convince enough authors to submit
papers and then it must accept enough of them to make money. Price
will vie with prestige. The most prestigious journals will charge more
and will attract authors who can pay the cost (grants will help). The
less prestigious journals will discount their price in order to
attract more authors and will increase their acceptance rate. Some
institutions may demand that scholars use less expensive journals;
others will demand that their faculty publish only in expensive ones.
The result will be a distorted
and ugly market, driven by some of the same forces that drive vanity
publishing. This is what happens when a market is driven by producers
instead of consumers.

If you receive an invitation to be involved in a journal or conference
whose organiser's reputability you do not already know, and agree to
let your name be used in what might be a purely money making scheme or
fail to check out the integrity of what is proposed before sending any
money then your bad and misleading example may make you a fraudster ...

... find relevant URLs and more on these matters at

Alf van der Poorten (, member of the CEIC

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At its 15th General Assembly in August 2006 at Santiago de Compostela,
Spain the IMU introduced Associate Members as new type of IMU
membership. In contrast to ordinary membership an Associate Member
does not need independent scientific activity. It is assumed that an
Associate Member is determined to develop its mathematical landscape
and has the will to become an IMU Member after four to eight years of
associate membership.

Ecuador and Kyrgyzstan have just become associate members of IMU.

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UMALCA, the Mathematical Union for Latin America and the Caribbean
organizes two cycles of schools, as part of its efforts for promoting
the development and dissemination of Mathematics across the entire

The ELAMs (Escuelas Latino Americanas de Matematicas) are
doctoral/research level meetings with a long and very fruitful
tradition. They usually focus on one or two grand topics, and include
both mini-courses and seminar type talks.

The ELAMs are attended by students from most latin american countries,
as well as researchers from the region and abroad. The lastest
editions took place in Lima, Peru (1999), Cartagena, Colombia (2002),
and Montevideo, Uruguay (2005). Preparations for the ELAM 2008 are
currently under way.

The EMALCAs (Escuelas de Matematicas de America Latina y Caribe) are
targeted at students at the end of their undergraduate studies, aiming
to attract the most talented to join graduate studies and a research
career. They have particularly strong impact in the least developed
countries in the region.

EMALCAs are organized in Mexico and Venezuela, in alternate years, as
well as in many other countries in Central and South America, attaining a
currently steady flux of 3 schools every year. So far, EMALCAs have
been held in Bolivia (2), Cuba, Paraguay (2), Costa Rica, Nicaragua,
Colombia, and
Peru. As this iniative becomes better known, an increasing percentage
of students come from neighboring countries (support is provided for
land transportation and local expenses of the students).

In all cases, UMALCA provides academic and partial financial support,
while the organizational burden lies on the local committee, that also
provides a good part of the funding. The EMALCAs are generously
supported by
CIMPA-Centre International de Mathématiques Pures et Apliquées through
an agreement with UMALCA. Other international oganizations, including
ICTP, IMU-CDE, PROSUL (Brazil), and UNESCO have also been contributing
to the Union's initiatives.

UMALCA is currently presided by J. A. de la Peña (Mexico) and its
Secretary General is R. Labarca (Chile). R. Markarian (Uruguay)
coordinates the EMALCAs committee. More information on the Union and
its activities can be found at

Marcelo Viana
Scientific Coordinator - UMALCA

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6. CIMPA (International Centre for Pure and Applied Mathematics)

Appointment of the post of Director of CIMPA: Call for candidates

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The Ramanujan Prize was established at International Centre for
Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy, to honour young
mathematicians who have conducted outstanding research in developing
The Ramanujan Prize is supported by the Norwegian Academy of Science and
Letters through the Abel Fund, with the cooperation of the International
Mathematical Union.

Jorge Lauret (38) of the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba in Argentina
is the winner of the 2007 Srinivasa Ramanujan Prize.
More information:

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On 30 September 2007, László Lovász, current president of the International
Mathematical Union, received the Bolyai Prize which is
given by a private foundation, founded by five Hungarian enterpreneurs
who wanted to honor scientific achivements of Hungarian scholars,
scientists, and - through the example of the awardees - to encourage
young people to pursue a career in research.

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last updated: 2012-07-31