IMU-Net 52: March 2012
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IMU-Net 52: March 2012

IMU-Net 52: March 2012
A Bimonthly Email Newsletter from the International Mathematical Union
Editor: Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel, University Paris Descartes, Paris, France


1. Editorial
2. News from IMU
3. IMU on the Web
4. Perspectives on mathematical publishing
5. 2011 ICMI Medalists
6. Abel Prize 2012
7. Ingrid Daubechies, winner of the 2011 Okawa Prize
8. Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 (MPE 2013)
9. Subscribing to IMU-Net


1. EDITORIAL: Mathematical Congress of the Americas

The first MCA will take place in August 5-9, 2013 in the charming city of
Guanajuato, Mexico, one of the oldest in the Americas and once the world's
leading silver extraction center. The Congress started as an initiative of
six major mathematical organizations in the continent:
AMS, the national mathematical societies of Brazil (SBM), Canada (CMS)
and Mexico (SMM), SIAM, and UMALCA - Mathematical Union for
Latin America and the Caribbean.

Continental/regional mathematical congresses are not unheard of, of course.
Best known are the European Congress of Mathematicians and the
Latin American Congress of Mathematicians, both of which are being held
this year, respectively, in Krakow, Poland and Cordoba, Argentina.

But the challenges are perhaps even bigger for the Mathematical Congress of
the Americas, in this most diverse of continents, mathematically and
Indeed, the Congress aims not only to highlight the excellence of mathematical
achievements in the Americas, within the context of the international arena,
but also to foster the scientific integration of all mathematical communities
in the continent.

Preparations to ensure that MCA2013 will achieve these goals are well
under way.
Plenary and invited speakers have been selected by the Program Committee.
Calls have been issued for special session proposals, including
sessions associated to Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 (MPE2013), as
well as for nominations to the Prizes created by the MCA organizers.
Funds are being raised to support the participation of students and
mathematicians. More information can be obtained at the Congress website

Marcelo Viana
Vice President of IMU Executive Committee



-  As of February 2012, Algeria is a Member of the International
Mathematical Union. For more information on Algeria's Adhering
Organization see

- Electronically available books about IMU
With the kind permission of Springer Verlag O. Lehto’s book
“Mathematics without borders: A history of the International Mathematical
Union” has been scanned and is now made freely available on IMU’S  website: One can can download the pdf and djvu files
of the book directly as follows: The pdf file (97 MB) is at
and that of the djvu file (31 MB)at

Similarly, the book “International Mathematical Congresses: An Illustrated
History 1893 – 1986” by D. J. Albers, G. L. Alexanderson, C. Reid published
by Springer Verlag is electronically available at
The direct links to the electronic files are:
The sizes of these file are, 33 MB and 14 MB, respectively.



-  World Digital Mathematics Library (WDML)
From June 1-3, 2012 the symposium "The Future World Heritage Digital
Mathematics Library: Plans and Prospects" will take place at the
National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC. The symposium is
organized by IMU's Committee on Electronic Information and
Communication (CEIC) that, thus, continues to play a leading role in
promoting the establishment of a World Digital Mathematics Library.
The goal of the meeting is to develop a viable plan of action to
realize the vision of a universally accessible library for the world's
mathematics literature of all time.

- An invitation to use MathJax
The use of  mathematical equations in a web page has always been
challenging. The first attempts used the standard (ASCII) characters to
imitate mathematics so expressions like x^2+y^2=z^2 could be understood.
As LaTeX came into vogue, it was used as an encoding of mathematics so
that expressions like $\int_{-\infty}^\infty e^{-x^2} dx=\sqrt{\pi}$,
while not directly viewable, could at least be interpreted by those
sufficiently familiar with LaTeX syntax. The next stage of development
involved the insertion of graphic files into the web page. Mathematics
text in LaTeX format would be specially denoted, and each such
snippet would be sent through LaTeX with the output being converted
to a graphics format that could then be inserted into the page. This
did allow recognizable mathematics, but it was not without drawbacks:
the mathematics would not resize when the page was zoomed resulting
in mismatched font sizes between text and mathematicals, and the
graphics could not reshape themselves if the page dimensions changed.
The arrival of MathJax completely changed this situation.  The different
approach is to have the computer supporting the browser use JavaScript
to draw the mathematics on the page. This allows a very accurate
presentation, with no jaggies (visible pixelation) associated with
graphic insertions. It also allows greater access to the things that
the browser does best: resizing and reflowing for example.
Want to see if it works with your browser? If you're connected to the net,
take the little snippet of HTML code following this paragraph and put it
into a file on your computer.  Then open the file with your browser. If
all goes well, you will have a centred equation which will remain centred
if you change the width of the display. Also, the mathematics will remain
perfectly rendered and crisp as you zoom in.

<script type="text/javascript"
Here is a special equation:
\[ e^{i\pi}+1=0\]
The five most important mathematical constants, all in one!

A picture is really worth a thousand words. The adventurous might want
to replace the equation in the example with their own favourite, or take
the LaTeX example from the first paragraph and see how (beautifully)
it appears. There are (intentional) limitations to MathJax. It is
designed to render
pieces of mathematics rather than complete bodies of text. The browser
itself is capable of rendering text quickly, so let it do what it is
good at. Don't expect to take your favourite LaTeX paper and just drop
it into MathJax. It won't work.
Another limitation is the time it takes JavaScript to render the
mathematics. A complicated page with lots of symbols can take many
seconds to be completely viewable, especially on a slow computer, so,
whenever possible, keep pages short and not too complicated.
Even with these limitations, the range and beauty of LaTeX now
displayed by MathJax is impressive.  With the newest version, all of the
constructions from the amsmath package, as well as all of the amssymbols
are available. In addition, it is possible to use automatic line
numbering and some referencing features, just as in LaTeX.

Michael Doob



Following a remark by Tim Gowers on his blog, a grassroots movement
emerged in which (as of April 2, 2012) almost 9,000 researchers are
participating, in a variety of fields; almost 1,700 are mathematicians.
More information can be found on, and the
Statement of Purpose (SoP) accessible from the website. For the
moment, the IMU is in constant liaison with this group, but it is not
taking a position on the issue. More precisely, the 4 members of the
Executive Committee (EC) who have signed the SoP did this as
individuals, not as representatives of the IMU. Nevertheless, the IMU
and its EC are following the development with interest, and hope that
the protest, as expressed in the SoP, against some practices by
publishers of mathematical journals, will ultimately lead to
negotiations and changes of these practices that will benefit the
whole mathematical community.
More about this in the next IMU-Net issue.

Ingrid Daubechies
President of IMU Executive Committee


The ICMI (International Commission for Mathematical Instruction) Award
Committee has decided on the Medalists for 2011. They are:

*Felix Klein Medal for lifetime achievement:
Alan H. Schoenfeld, University of California at Berkeley, USA,
in recognition of his more than thirty years of sustained, outstanding
lifetime achievements in mathematics education research and development.

*Hans Freudenthal Medal for a major cumulative programme of research:
Luis Radford, Université Laurentienne, Sudbury, Canada,
in recognition of the theoretically well-conceived and highly coherent
research programme over the past two decades which has had a
significant impact on the community.

A. Schoenfeld and L. Radford will be honoured at ICME-12 in Seoul.


6. ABEL PRIZE 2012

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has decided to award the Abel
Prize for 2012 to Endre Szemerédi (Alfréd Rényi Institute of
Mathematics, Budapest and Department of Computer Science, Rutgers, USA).
He receives the Abel Prize for his fundamental contributions to
discrete mathematics and theoretical computer science, and in
recognition of the profound and lasting impact of these contributions
on additive number theory and ergodic theory.
The President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Nils Christian
Stenseth, announced the winner of the 2012 Abel Prize at the Academy in Oslo
today, 21 March. Endre Szemerédi will receive the Abel Prize from His Majesty
King Harald at an award ceremony in Oslo on 22 May.
The Abel Prize recognizes contributions of extraordinary depth and
influence to the mathematical sciences and has been awarded annually
since 2003. It carries a cash award of NOK 6,000,000 (close to EUR
800,000 or USD 1 million).
More information on



Ingrid Daubechies, President of IMU, is awarded the 2011 Okawa Prize
for outstanding contributions to the theory and applications of
wavelets. The "Okawa Prize Commemorative Symposium 2011" took place on
March 16 2012 in Tokyo.



The MPE2013 website ( now highlights several thematic
programs organized by institutes, as well as a series of workshops and
summer schools that will take place around the world.
Several societies or unions have decided to celebrate MPE2013 during
their annual or regional meetings, including AMS, CMS (Canada), MAA,
SMAI, CELMEC, IAMG, IUGG, and more may still decide to do so.
The Mathematics of Planet Earth Competition for an open source
exhibition of virtual modules is part of the world initiative
“Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013” (MPE2013).
The modules submitted to the competition will be part of a permanent
Mathematics of Planet Earth Open Source Exhibition of Virtual Modules.
The modules could be reproduced and utilized by many users around the
world from science museums to schools, under a Creative Commons license.
Examples of modules or themes to be covered are available on the website.
The competition is open till September 15, 2012.
Special issues of magazines on MPE will be produced and distributed in
the schools, including Accromath and Pi in the Sky in Canada. Exchange
and translations of articles are encouraged.
An MPE-Newsletter is published every two months. You can subscribe on
the MPE 2013 website:



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last updated: 2012-07-31