IMU-Net 69: January 2015
A Bimonthly Email Newsletter from the International Mathematical Union
Editor: Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel, University Paris Descartes, Paris, France
Beginning of September 2014, I attended the General Assembly of the
International Council for Science (ICSU) in Auckland, New Zealand. The
members of ICSU are national members and international scientific
unions. Together with Manuel de Leon, I represented IMU at this
General Assembly. Cheryl Praeger was also present, representing
Elections of the coming Executive Board (EB) for the next three years
took place during the General Assembly. Three mathematicians were
elected on the Executive Board of ICSU: Daya Reddy (South Africa) is
the new President-elect (he will become President in 2017), John Ball
was renewed as regular member of the EB for the coming three years,
and Manuel de Leon was elected regular member of the EB: Manuel de
Leon just finished eight years on the Executive Committee of IMU,
during which he was the official representative of IMU at ICSU.
The International Council for Science is very little known among
mathematicians. To my opinion, ICSU deserves to be better known, and
this is why we will try to have a regular item on ICSU in each IMU
Newsletter. ICSU's mission is to strengthen international science for
the benefit of society. It promotes freedom and responsibility in the
conduct of science, and IMU often refers to ICSU's statements when
dealing with infringements to human or scientific rights. ICSU is also
very involved in science and policy to ensure that science is
integrated into international policy development. For that reason, the
General Assembly was preceded by a two-day "Science Advice to
Government Conference" (see http://www.globalscienceadvice.org/).
Also, ICSU has increased its involvement in supporting research on
understanding the planetary issues of climate change and
sustainability, adapting to them, and linking research on the matter
with policy. This has led to the creation of the 10 years initiative,
Future Earth, which is the flagship program of ICSU. The past
president, Yuan Tseh Lee, committed a lot of energy during his mandate
to do fund raising for supporting Future Earth. I discussed with Frans
Berkhout, the interim Director of Future Earth, and we are both
convinced that mathematical sciences have an important role to play in
Future Earth. The General Assembly is preceded by a one day meeting of
the scientific unions, which is an opportunity of meeting our sister
unions, learn about their activities and priorities, and start
networking for joint activities.
The General Assembly of ICSU contains some invited scientific
lectures. I was especially struck by the lecture of Nancy Bertler from
the Antarctic Research Centre of New Zealand. We regularly hear about
the sea rise during the 21st century. This rise has two origins: the
melting of glaciers and the thermic expansion of the oceans.
The melting of glaciers could produce an incredible amount of
additional water: if all Antarctica and Greenland's glaciers were to
melt, we could have a rise of the oceans of the order of 70 meters.
What saves us in the short term is that the glaciers cannot melt so
fast. But pay attention next time you hear the forecasts of sea rise:
they never go past 2100! The lecture of Nancy Bertler dealt with a new
potential component of the climate change, namely the potential
"collapse" of Antarctica.
Because of the enormous weight of Antarctica's glaciers, most of the
floor of these glaciers is below sea level. Hence, there is a
potential of water penetrating under the glacier and causing the
breaking the big pieces that would end floating and hence, rise the
sea level. The recent studies conclude that such collapses could lead
to a sea rise of 4 to 8 meters before the end of the century, much
higher than the forecast of 0.5-1 meter rise in the last IPCC report.
All climate studies rely on mathematical modelling. We, as
mathematicians, develop tools to study models. But, what should be
included in the models? This is one of the big challenge of climate
science, which requires our collaboration with the other disciplines.
Ordinary member of the Executive Committee of IMU
Call for nominations for the Program Committee of ICM 2018
The next ICM will take place in Rio de Janeiro in 2018.
The General Assembly of the IMU decided at its recent meeting in
Gyeongju, Korea, that "The IMU Adhering Organizations should be
invited to make suggestions for possible members of the Program
Committee.", see Resolution 7
The community is hereby invited to propose members for the PC for ICM
2018 and to forward them to IMU through an Adhering Organization.
Please note that members of recent Program Committees are not eligible
(a list of all former PCs can be found at
http://www.mathunion..org/activities/icm/pc/). Guidelines for the PC
A proposal should include a brief letter of recommendation as well as
a CV of the candidates [pdf-format only]. Candidates should not be
contacted prior to the nomination, as the composition of the PC
(except its chair) will only be made public at the ICM2018. The
deadline is March 1, 2015, and proposals should be sent by an Adhering
Organization to secretary(at)mathunion.org.
CEIC Notes and Comments: ArXiv millionth paper
A relatively quiet, but notable, milestone was celebrated this past
fall, as managers of arXiv.org at Cornell University counted the 1
millionth research article uploaded to the server. For mathematicians,
the arXiv preprint server is a vibrant resource, showing continued
growth in use by this discipline. Currently 28.8% of submitted papers
are in mathematics or mathematical physics, and 15.1% are in computer
science. More information on growth by topic at
Originally supported by Cornell University Library (CUL), arXiv has
moved to a collaboratively governed, community-supported resource.
Indeed, the growth of arXiv has led to new needs in underlying
technology, as well as a plan for sustaining the service, which
requires permanent staff and a $1M budget. In the new model,
effective January 2013, arXiv is supported by libraries and research
laboratories worldwide that represent arXiv's heaviest users, as well
as by CUL and by generous matching funds from the Simons Foundation.
For a useful retrospective on these developments, a listing of the
Membership Advisory Board and Scientific Advisory Board of arXiv, as
well as a sketch of financials associated with the support structure,
please see Cornell’s press release, and associated links:
Call for nominations for the ICMI Executive Committee for 2018-2021
Nominations are invited for the following positions on the Executive
Committee of the International Commission of Mathematical Instruction
(ICMI): President, Secretary-General, Vice-Presidents, and Members at
large. Each Adhering Organisation may submit only one name for each of
the positions of President and Secretary-General of ICMI. All
submissions should be sent via e-mail or regular mail to Professor
Gilah Leder, the appointed Chair of the Nomination Committee, to
gilah.leder(at)monash.edu. Each submission should state in what capacity
the nominator is submitting his/her proposal (Chair of Adhering
Organization, Chair of a National Committee, etc.). Each nomination
must be accompanied by the proposed candidate’s CV and by a
declaration of willingness to serve if elected. The nominations for
President and Secretary-General must be received by April 1st, 2015,
and the nominations for the other positions must be received by June
1st, 2015. Only Adhering Organisations from Member Countries of ICMI
are eligible to submit nominations.
Heidelberg Laureate Forum
Reminder: Young computer scientists and mathematicians from all over
the world can apply for one of the 200 coveted spots to participate in
Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF), an annual networking event. The HLF
offers all accepted young researchers the great opportunity to
personally meet the winners of the most prestigious prizes in their
fields. For one week, the recipients of the Abel Prize, the ACM A.M.
Turing Award, the Fields Medal, and the Nevanlinna
Prize engage in a cross-generational scientific dialogue with young
researchers in Heidelberg, Germany. Applications must be submitted
online at: http://application.heidelberg-laureate-forum.org by
February 28, 2015.
For more information, please visit:
International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015
The United Nations have declared 2015, the International Year of Light
and light-based technologies (IYL2015): www.light2015.org. The
Opening Ceremony took place at UNESCO on January 19-20 2015:
The theme of light has many connections with mathematics and you could
consider using the opportunity of this international year to highlight
the contributions of mathematics in the study of light and its
applications. If you are inspired and decide to organize to organize
some event related to mathematics and light, then consider also
posting it on the IYL2015 website by clicking on "Submit an event" at
Here are some relations between light and mathematics, from elementary
ones to be used in education to more advanced ones in research.
Fermat's principle states that the path of a ray of light between two
points is the path that can be traversed in the least time: this
principle unifies the laws of reflection and refraction. Mirrors
having the shape of conics and optical lens are sources of nice
mathematical problems. Optical fibers are now widely used in worldwide
communications. Interference between beams of light are at the origin
of iridescence. Mathematical modelling allows producing holograms with
laser beams. Laser filamentation, a nonlinear regime, has potential
applications in atmospheric remote sensing and lightning guiding. The
2014 Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry were both related to light.
The Nobel Prize in Physics celebrated the invention of blue
light-emitting diodes, which has allowed bright and energy-saving
white light sources, thus contributing to energy saving. The
achievements of the winners of the Nobel Chemistry Prize allow to now
peer in the nanoworld.
New members and associate members of IMU in 2014
In 2015, IMU has been very happy to welcome the following new members
and associate members:
Ecuador, upgrade from Associate Member, as of June 2014
New associate members:
Gabon, as of June 2014
Papua New Guinea, as of September 2014
Senegal, as of September 2014
The objectives of IMU are:
1. To promote international cooperation in science
2. To support and assist the International Congress of Mathematicians
(ICM) and other international scientific meetings and conferences
3. To encourage and support other international mathematical
activities considered likely to contribute to the development of
mathematical science in any of its aspects, pure, applied or
The instructions for joining IMU as a member or associate member can
be found at http://www.mathunion.org/members/candidacy
If your country explores joining IMU, do not hesitate contacting us
for discussing the matter (secretary(at)mathunion.org).
Mathematics in Africa: new AIMS chairs
New AIMS chairs sponsored by the German Government
AIMS, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, is a
pan-African initiative for post-graduate training and research in
mathematics. The first AIMS centers were established in South Africa
The German Ministry of Education and Research has established a
program to fund German Research Chairs at different AIMS institutes.
The first such chair was filled at AIMS-Senegal in 2012, see
Four other mathematics chairs will successively follow in Ghana,
Cameroon, Tanzania and South Africa.
The selection process for the positions to be filled is accompanied by
the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation (AvH).The advertisement for the
position at AIMS-Ghana will be posted on AvH's Website
www.humboldt-foundation.de by mid or end February 2015.
Interested candidates may contact the AvH any time at info(at)avh.de.
A Newsletter for IMAGINARY
IMAGINARY, originally an an open-source traveling exhibition to
popularize mathematics, has turned into a comprehensive platform to
support math communication. All those working on math outreach are
invited to join the new "Math Communication Network" initiated by
IMAGINARY. This network aims to provide services to exhibitors,
museums, performers, freelance math-artists, etc. See
http://imaginary.org/network for more information.
In particular, there is a newsletter for the network with all the
relevant news in the math communication field. Additionally, IMAGINARY
has its own dedicated newsletter for the news and projects of the
IMAGINARY exhibitions. Check
http://imaginary.org/newsletter/imaginary-newsletter to read latest
issues and to subscribe to both newsletters.
IMAGINARY is a project by the Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut
Oberwolfach and supported by the Klaus Tschira Stiftung.
2014 Kyoto Prize
The 2014 Kyoto Prize for Basic Sciences has been awarded to Professor
Edward Witten (Institute for Advanced Study, USA) for his "Outstanding
Contributions to the Development of Mathematical Sciences through the
Exploration of Superstring Theory".
The Kyoto Prize Presentation Ceremony has been held at the Kyoto
International Conference Center in Kyoto, Japan, on November 10, 2014.
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