IMU-Net 17: May 2006

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


  1. Editorial
  2. ICM 2006
  3. IMU on the Web
  4. News from DCSG
  5. ICMI awards
  6. EMS article competition
  7. News from UMALCA
  8. Abel Prize awarded
  9. Subscribing to IMU-Net


We are looking forward with joy to the forthcoming International Congress
of Mathematicians 2006 (ICM2006) in Madrid. The ICM has been recognized
as the most important mathematical festival by mathematicians from all over
the  world, who present their major mathematical achievements carried out
in all subfields and in different regions of the world. In my experience at
ICM2002, the ICM is also an important opportunity to  highlight the beauty,
influence, and power of mathematics to the whole of society, which in turn
has a big impact on the further development of mathematics.
Mathematics is both an independent discipline valued for precision and
intrinsic beauty, and a rich source of tools for application in other
disciplines. The highly abstract languages, structures, methods and ideas
created by mathematicians have been time and again proven to be universal
instruments useful to other fields of science and technology and to
commercial and social practices. This reflects the marvellous and close
relation between mathematical theories and the objective world.
In our time science and technology have experienced extraordinary
developments that no-one could have dreamed of in previous generations,
such as the exploration of outer space, the use of nuclear energy, the
invention of the computer with the rapid development of internet and
information technology, and the advent of biological engineering.
All these reveal that human beings are striding forward towards an
unprecedented epoch in which the progress of society depends more and
more on scientific and technical innovation, and among all such
innovative activities the innovation of mathematical knowledge is
indispensable and fundamental. It is well known that mathematics has
played indispensable roles in making computers, in developing both space
and energy programs, and in investigating the structure of the DNA
molecule. Mathematical methods are widely used even in economics, finance,
medicine, agriculture, architecture, art areas, and so on. Mathematics
has been respected as the queen of the sciences, and now we might say
that mathematics is as well the basis of high technology, and, in a
certain sense, a symbol of modern civilization.

Zhi-Ming Ma
Member of the Executive Committee of IMU 

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2. ICM 2006

The ICM2006 Madrid has launched a weekly bulletin containing information
about the congress: interviews with speakers, novelties in mathematical
research, explanation of the content of the different sections and more.
The bulletin is published electronically in English and Spanish.

You can find it in Press Room (English) at
and Oficina de Prensa (Spanish) at

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Choosing Someone Else To Publish Your Journal How is a small academic
journal to survive? The only way may well seem to be to ask a professional
publisher to provide valuable marketing and essential bundling. The CEIC
offers brief but useful advice to Society Councils and Editorial Teams at

e-Gripe of the Month: This first complaint is pre-e. I say: It can only
be mindlessness that leads many of us to prepare our overheads in letter
rather than landscape mode. Click as above for more.

e-Comment of the Month: Impatient audience member to speaker still
fiddling with her computer: Are you just giving a powerpoint presentation;
or do you have something worthwhile to say?

Alf van der Poorten (, member of the CEIC. 

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Among its most recent initiatives, the Developing Countries Strategy
Group, together with the African Mathematics Millennium Science
Initiative (AMMSI) and the London Mathematical Society, submitted
applications to two of the United Kingdom's premier foundations, the
Nuffield Foundation and the Leverhulme Trust. Both of these applications
have had successful outcomes.  The Nuffield Foundation awarded a
GBP 105,000 grant for a two-year pilot project to support mathematics
and its teaching in the Anglophone countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
Work under this grant is now in the initial stage of partnering
mentors in the U.K. with institutions in Anglophone sub-Saharan Africa.
With respect to the second application, in which the International Centre
for Mathematical Sciences (Edinburgh, U.K.) also joined, the Leverhulme
Trust awarded a GBP 150,000 grant for a three-year international programme
in support of mathematics in sub-Saharan Africa, to commence later this

The first project focuses on mentoring partnerships between individual
mathematicians in the UK and mathematics centres in Anglophone sub-Saharan
Africa. The second has the coordinated aim of nurturing the next
generation of African mathematicians and mathematical leadership in situ,
focusing particularly on building the community of postgraduate students
and young researchers.  Both aim to combat the mathematics "brain drain"
of mathematical talent from sub-Saharan Africa by increasing the relative
attractiveness of contributing one's mathematical expertise at home rather
than moving permanently to the developed world. Building and maintaining
bridges of shared research interests with individual and centres in the
developed world is seen as an essential part of sustaining the community
of postgraduate students and young researchers in Africa.  In turn,
sustaining the region's mathematical infrastructure is seen as essential
to education and economic development.

In other news, IMU recently received a second major grant from the Niels
Henrik Abel Memorial Fund towards its activities in sustaining and promoting
mathematics and mathematicians  in developing countries.  These latter
funds, besides supporting mathematics and mathematics education in Africa,
are being employed inter alia to support the project of CIMPA-ICPAM (Nice,
France) to rebuild the mathematical infrastructure in Cambodia, in cooperation
with Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia. 

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The Felix Klein and Hans Freudenthal Medals are the two awards created by
the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI), for
recognizing outstanding achievement in mathematics education research. The
Felix Klein Medal, named for the first president of ICMI (1908-1920),
honors a lifetime achievement. The Hans Freudenthal Medal, named for the
eight president of ICMI (1967-1970), recognizes a major cumulative program
of research. The awards represent the judgment of an (anonymous) jury of
distinguished scholars of international stature, chaired by Professor
Michèle Artigue of the University Paris 7.

ICMI is proud to announce the second awardees of the Klein and Freudenthal
Medals. The Felix Klein Medal for 2005 is awarded to Ubiratan D'Ambrosio,
Emeritus Professor at UNICAMP, in Brasil. This distinction acknowledges
the role Ubiratan D'Ambrosio has played in the development of mathematics
education as a field of research and development throughout the world,
above all in Latin America. It also recognises Ubiratan D'Ambrosio's
pioneering role in the development of research perspectives which are
sensitive to the characteristics of social, cultural, and historical
contexts in which the teaching and learning of mathematics take place, as
well as his insistence on providing quality mathematics education to all,
not just to a privileged segment of society.

The Hans Freudenthal Medal for 2005 is awarded to Paul Cobb,  Professor at
Vanderbilt University, in the US. This distinction acknowledges his
outstanding contribution to mathematics education: a rare combination of
theoretical developments, empirical research and practical applications,
which has had a major influence on the mathematics education community and
Citations of the work of these medalists can be found below. Presentation
of the medals, and invited addresses of the medalists, will occur at
ICME-11 in Monterrey, July 2008.
Recipient of previous ICMI Awards:
2003 Felix Klein Medall : Professor Guy Brousseau
2003 Hans Freudenthal Medal : Professor Celia Hoyles

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The European Mathematical Society, through its committee for Raising
Public Awareness of Mathematics (RPA), has recently run a competition
for articles that have appeared in a newspaper, or some similar general
magazine, in the home country of the author. The 2006 winners are:

Professor Nuno Crato, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Portugal.
For a three-part article Cibersegredos invioláveis (Unbreakable ciber-
secrets), published in the Portuguese weekly newspaper Expresso, on 8, 22,
29 September 2001.
The prize winning articles by Crato can be found in Portuguese and English

Professor F. Thomas Bruss, Dpt. de Mathématiques, Universite Libre de
Bruxelles, Belgium.
For the article Der Ungewissheit ein Schnippchen schlagen (Playing a Trick
on Uncertainty), published in the magazine Spektrum der Wissenschaft, 6
June 2000, and a similar article in the daily German newspaper Die Welt,
17 May 2001.
The prize winning article by Bruss can be found in German and English
under "Publications" at:

Professors Sava Grozdev, Ivan Derzhanski and Evgenia Sendova, Union of
Bulgarian Mathematicians, Sofia, Bulgaria.
For the article For those who think mathematics dreary, published in the
Bulgarian daily newspaper Dnevnik, 27 December 2001.
The prize winning article by Grozdev, Derzhanski and Sendova can be found
in Bulgarian and English at:

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The Mathematical Union of Latin America and the Caribbean (UMALCA), an
affiliated member of the IMU, has turned 10 years old. The celebrations
took place at the 14th Latin American School of Mathematics, held in
Montevideo, Uruguay last December. On the occasion, the President of
UMALCA, José Antonio de la Peña (Mexico), awarded Mario Wschebor
(Uruguay), Roberto Markarian (Uruguay), and Jacob Palis (Brazil) the
Union's Medal, for their outstanding contributions as first President,
Secretary General, and Scientific Coordinator, respectively. The
celebrations also included round table discussions on the perspectives for
mathematical research and education across the continent.
UMALCA was founded in Rio de Janeiro in 1995, with the mission to foster
the development of Mathematics across Latin America, by sponsoring
scientific meetings, promoting the exchange of graduate students and
researchers, and contributing to improve teaching and research conditions
in the region. It is formed by the national mathematical societies of
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and
Venezuela, each holding one vote in the General Assembly. Rules and
procedures for admission of new members are defined in the statutes (see
the official web site The annual fees of the
members constitute the main source of funding for its activities, but
generous support has been obtained also from CDE/IMU, CIMPA, ICIAM, ICTP,
UNESCO, and various latin american research agencies.
Since its inception, UMALCA has been active in promoting the exchange of
talented young researchers within Latin America. Calls for travel grant
applications are issued three times a year. Applicants selected by the
Scientific Council have their travel expenses to carry out scientific
research or attend a meeting in another country in the region covered by
the Union. This program is greatly contributing to enhancing scientific
collaboration between Latin American research groups.
The Latin American Congress of Mathematicians, organized by UMALCA every
fourth year, is the main scientific meeting in Mathematics in the whole
region. It includes plenary lectures and parallel sessions, as well as
mini-courses, at the very highest level. The first two Congresses took
place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2000), and Cancun, Mexico (2004), and the
next one will be held in Chile in 2008. The Union also took upon itself
the organization of the Latin American School of Mathematics, a
traditional event in the region that is now held on a regular basis every
third year. The most recent Schools, in Lima, Peru (1999), Cartagena,
Colombia (2002), and Montevideo, Uruguay (2005), focussed on such topics
as Algebraic Geometry, Dynamical Systems, Partial Differential Equations,
and Probability and Stochastic Processes.
Just as important, the Union also organizes more elementary mathematical
schools, the EMALCAs, designed to attract talented students from the least
developed countries to graduate studies and a research career. Since 2001,
schools have been organized every year, alternately in Mexico and in
Venezuela, targeting students in Central America and the Caribbean.
Starting from 2004, this initiative was greatly expanded to enhance its
regional reach by having smaller schools organized in other countries as
well: Bolivia, Cuba, Costa Rica, Paraguay and, soon, Nicaragua and Ecuador.
Recently, UMALCA joined efforts with the European Mathematical Society
(EMS) and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), in
organizing the first International Congress on the Applications of
Mathematics. The ICAM took place in Santiago de Chile, 13-17 March  2006,
and was a great success, attended by more than 200 scientists and doctoral
students from all over the world. Conversations for the organization of
ICAM 2010 have just started.

Marcelo Viana
Scientific Coordinator of UMALCA
IMPA, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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On May 23, the Queen of Norway presented the Abel Prize for 2006 to the
Swedish mathematician Lennart Carleson. Carleson presented his Abel lecture
on May 24, followed by lectures by Lai-Sang Young, Oded Schramm, and
Sun-Yung Alice Chang.


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