IMU-Net 28: March 2008
IMU > IMU-Net 28: March 2008  Home | Contact | Search | Media Platform | Sitemap

IMU-Net 28: March 2008

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


  1. Editorial
  2. News from IMU
  3. IMU on the Web
  4. ICM 2010: Nomination of invited speakers
  5. ICM 2014: Invitation of Bids
  6. Abel Prize 2008
  7. Petition for a mathematician who has disappeared in Chad
  8. Subscribing to IMU-Net


In the year 2000, the German federal government started
a campaign to better inform the general public about
the sciences and humanities, focusing each year on
one particular area. In 2008 Germany celebrates the
"year of mathematics".

This is a joint initiative of all German mathematics
related scientific societies and teacher organizations
(coordinated by Guenter M. Ziegler, the current President
of DMV, the German Mathematical Society), together with
various other associations, industrial and governmental
partners. The main financial sponsors are the Federal
Ministry of Education and Research and the Deutsche Telekom

The year of mathematics has found overwhelming support
not only by research mathematicians who are concerned
about a possible decrease of interest by future students.
About one thousand newspaper and journal articles have
already appeared since January. Some newspapers have a
full page on mathematics each weak. The topics covered
range from mathematics and the modern society, mathemtics
in other sciences, recreational mathematics, education,
applications, to pure math. The presence of mathematics
topics and mathematicians on radio and TV has multiplied
by a large factor. Universities and scientific
institutions throughout the country focus on mathematics
in their annual festive events, schools invite research
mathematicians to outline the role mathematics plays
today and to explain study and job perspectives. More
than a thousand "mathematical events" are expected to
happen throughout this year.

The whole activity has several goals. The general public
needs to be informed that mathematics is inside of almost
everything employed in everyday life. Many examples
demonstrate where and how mathematics supports technology,
medical care, decision making, etc. A drive is initiated
to modernize math education in schools. Teachers may become
"Mathemacher". 500 have done so in the meantime. They will
receive supporting teaching and information material and are
offered special training courses. A particular aim here is
to make the educational initiative sustainable.

Among the various publications in progress, one will focus
on mathematics as an important production factor in industry.
The book will be launched in November and is sponsored by
acatech, the National Academy of Engineering. Several
large companies have agreed to show how they utilize
mathematics either via publications or "mathematics days"
in the companies. Needless to say that the German chancellor
Angela Merkel (who has a physics PhD) supports the year by
public appearances, see her podcast at

Various popular public figures have agreed to act (and they
do so very successfully) as "ambassadors of mathematics".
This includes "Germany's next top model" who is a (very
good looking) mathematics student and the coach of one
of the most popular German football teams who once was
a mathematics teacher.

The drive that has already been generated in the first weeks
of this year has turned out to be extremely positive for
mathematics. That is why I am reporting about this initiative
in this editorial. Those who fear a decline of interest in
mathematics, report about a bad public image of our field,
claim that journalists are not interested in mathematics, or
complain about shrinking student enrolments may consider the
experience made in Germany and think of launching similar
activities. It is, no doubt, a lot of work but may result
in very beneficial long term effects.
The year of mathematics Webpage (in German only) is at

Martin Groetschel, Secretary of IMU

                                                     -> back to contents


The IMU member countries have voted positively on Norway's
application for an upgrade of its membership status from
Group II to Group III. The upgrade became effective on
February 1, 2008.

                                                     -> back to contents


The CEIC is turning 10 this year, and it seems appropriate to take
stock of the changes, both good and the bad, that have taken place over
this decade.

Ten years ago perhaps 10% of the mathematical literature was digitized,
while now perhaps 65% is. The growth of the infrastructure of the internet
has made physical/virtual access to this literature easy, but in practice
there are impediments caused by individual knowledge and IT arrangements,
licensing agreements, cost to the end-user, and much else.

Ten years ago searching on the web was still rudimentary. Today, while still
not perfect, a mathematician may use a combination of MathSciNet and
Zentralblatt MATH, Library tools, Google Scholar, Amazon, Wikipedia, Planet
Math among others, and this has enormously improved ability to find known
material or to discover the existence of valuable but not readily available

Ten years ago, the freely available electronic publishing tools offered
hopes that academic presses and individually operated journals would
increase their presence in and share of the academic publishing market. In
fact, just the opposite has happened as market consolidation has taken place
and the remaining large academic publishers have increased their share
of mathematical publishing from under 40% to over 60%. Journal prices
remain at least as vexing an issue as a decade ago, while the
purchasing decisions have become further removed from the academic user.

Some fine projects are coming to fruition within the IMU. These include: the
soon to be complete digitization of the ICM Proceedings; excellent
Registries of electronic material
(, and a Federated search
engine ( for mathematicians
(soon to add many new features). On balance, the (digital) world of
mathematics is much richer but no-less complex than a decade ago.

Jonathan Borwein, Chair CEIC

                                                     -> back to contents


After the IMU Executive Committee has selected the Program
Committee (PC) for ICM 2010 and its Chair, the PC has
meanwhile chosen the core panels for the ICM Sections. The
core panels are currently selecting further panel members.
The PC is now seeking suggestions for invited plenary and
section speakers. Further information and the list of
ICM-sections can be found at

All speaker nominations are supposed to be directed to
the PC Chair Hendrik W. Lenstra. Please use the following
e-mail address:

                                                     -> back to contents


The Executive Committee of the International Mathematical
Union invites the Adhering Organizations (and the mathematical
societies in IMU member countries) to place bids for hosting
the International Congress of Mathematicians in the year 2014
and the IMU General Assembly prior to this Congress. To be
considered by the Site Committee, these bids must be received
by the IMU Secretary ( by November 30,
2008. Detailed information about items that need to be
considered for a bid are at

                                                     -> back to contents

6. ABEL PRIZE 2008

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has decided to award the
Abel Prize for 2008 to John Griggs Thompson, University of Florida and
Jacques Tits, Collège de France. Thompson and Tits receives the Abel
Prize "for their profound achievements in algebra and in particular
for shaping modern group theory".

The Abel Award ceremony will take place in Oslo on the 20th of May. 
HM King Harald will present the Abel Prize.


                                                     -> back to contents


IMU receives, fortunately not too often, reports about
mathematicians who have been abducted (to demand ransom) or
imprisoned (for political reasons) or have "simply disappeared". Such
letters usually include a request to IMU to help in some way. These
are dreadful incidences, terrible for the victims, their family and
friends. They are also politically very delicate matters since whether
or not "IMU pressure" positively or negatively influences such a case
strongly depends on the circumstances. For that reason IMU seeks
advice from various person or authorities who have good "local
knowledge" and sometimes IMU is advised not to call international
attention. IMU recently received a report and a request from
Marie-Francoise Roy (France) informing about the disappearance of
mathematician Ibni Oumar Mahamet Saleh, a Chadian politician and
former minister. He has been abducted from his home on February 3,
2008 and there are no news from him since then.
On behalf of SMF (Société Mathématique de France) and SMAI (Société de
mathématiques appliquées et industrielles), Marie-Francoise has set up
a Web page ( where there are
documents describing the person and the case and asking to sign a petition.
IMU recommends that the readers of IMU-Net consider her request.

                                                     -> back to contents


There are two ways of subscribing to IMU-Net:
  1. Click on with a Web browser and go to the “Subscribe“ button to subscribe to IMU-Net online.
  2. Send an e-mail to with the Subject: subscribe
In both cases you will get an e-mail to confirm your subscription so that misuse will be minimized. IMU will not use the list of IMU-Net addresses for any purpose other than sending IMU-Net, and will not make it available to others. Previous issues can be seen at: -> back to contents
last updated: 2012-07-31