IMU-Net 4: March 2004

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



  1. From the Editor
  2. Abel Prize 2004
  3. ICM 2006 NEWS
  4. Bids for ICM 2010
  5. IMU on the Web: what can you do about journal prices?
  6. PACOM 2004
  7. International Commission on the History of Mathematics (ICHM)
  8. Subscribing to IMU-Net


Dear Reader,

This issue contains some fresh news, as the two winners of this year's
Abel Prize have just been announced.

We begin with this issue a regular column concerning electronic information
and communication that is of general interest for IMU-Net readers.
For each such contribution, the Committee on Electronic Information and
Communication (CEIC) will provide an additional Web page that contains
details concerning the issues discussed.

I hope you are interested in this initiative.

Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel

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Abel Prize 2004

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has decided to award
the Abel Prize for 2004, jointly to Sir Michael Francis Atiyah,
University of Edinburgh (UK) and Isadore M. Singer, Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (USA).
Atiyah and Singer will receive the prize "for their discovery and
proof of the index theorem, bringing together topology, geometry and
analysis, and their outstanding role in building new bridges between
mathematics and theoretical physics".

The Abel Prize Award ceremony will take place on 25 May 2005 at the
University of Oslo Aula.
The Abel Prize, established by the Norwegian Goverment in 2002 and
awarded annually, is an international prize for outstanding
scientific work in the field of  mathematics. The Prize carries a
cash award of 6 million Norwegian kroner (about US $ 800,000).

For more information, see:

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Preregistration for the ICM 2006 in Madrid continues open. Please
preregister at the ICM web site in order to
receive further news about the ICM.

Professor Noga Alon has been appointed chair of the ICM 2006
Program Committee. This Committee has already taken a decision on the
sections to be covered, which can be checked at the ICM2006 web
site. As in past Congresses there will also be short communications
and Poster sessions.

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Bids for ICM 2010

The closing date for receiving bids to host the 2010 International
Congress  of Mathematicians is 30 November 2004. Information concerning
the bidding process can be found on the IMU webpages at

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IMU on the Web: what can you do about journal prices?

The IMU Committee on Electronic Information and Communication (CEIC)
made a series of recommendations in its Best Practices document several
years ago.

The advice was aimed at many groups -- mathematicians, librarians, and
publishers -- and it covered many topics, ranging from versioning
papers to archiving journals. The Best Practices document can be found at

One of the recommendations (#8) concerned the problem of escalating
journal prices. The specific advice was straight-forward:
"When deciding where to submit a paper an author may choose to be
aware of a journal's standing and impact, but an author also should take
account of a journal's price .... In addition, one might consider a
journal's price and policies when considering whether to referee or serve
on an editorial board."

While this is straight-forward and sound advice, the consequences of
specific actions may be complicated and controversial. For example,
creating new journals with low prices may (temporarily) stretch library
budgets even further. This is especially true if many of the library's
journals are included in a bundle. Is it a good idea to increase the
stress on the journals system by creating new journals?
What can individual mathematicians do to effect real change?
The CEIC recently added a Web page on Recommendation #8 with remarks
that discuss the actions one can take to reduce journal prices. For all
mathematicians, the most important action is to stay informed. 

The new Web page can be found at

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PACOM 2004

African Mathematical Union Congress in Tunis in September 2004

The Sixth Pan African Congress of Mathematicians of the African
Mathematical Union will be held in Tunis from 1-6 September 2004.
This Congress is being planned amidst an increasing push for
economic and other developments in Africa. Thus, the theme for the
Congress, viz., "Mathematical Sciences and the Development of
Africa: Challenges for Building a Knowledge Society in Africa", is
aimed to address some of these challenges. The quest for the
construction of a knowledge society in Africa has never been
stronger and more urgent. The advances in telecommunications
technology are threatening to widen the digital divide between the
developed and developing countries. Among the most critical
dimensions of change are the convergent impacts of globalization,
the increasing importance of knowledge as a main driver of growth,
and the information and communication revolution.

In conceptualizing the theme three factors played a significant
role. Firstly, we realize that there are factors, especially the
continued removal of space and time barriers to information access
and exchange, which favour the speeding up of the construction of a
knowledge society in Africa. Secondly, collaboration has long become
a key factor in the advancement of scientific, including
mathematical, research and learning. Thirdly, rapid development in
science requires the promotion of lifelong-learning practices
necessary to update individual knowledge and skills. In all these
factors tertiary education plays a pivotal role, including
mathematical learning and research.

Two deliberate efforts have been included in the program to give
effect to the three factors mentioned above. A special session will
be held on "The role of electronic services for mathematical
sciences in Africa as a way into the information society". A round
table discussion will be organized to discuss cooperation with
various mathematical societies and a special appeal is issued to
African mathematicians in the Diaspora to attend and contribute to
the Congress with a view of exploring ways in which collaboration
can be enhanced.

The Congress programme makes provision for plenary speakers, who are
urged to make their lectures comprehensible to a wide spectrum of
mathematicians and to emphasize the relevance of mathematics to real
world problems, invited  lectures in  parallel specialized
sessions,  short  communications and  posters. In this way we hope
to cater for a wide range of mathematical interests from pure to
applied mathematics, mathematics education, mathematics of finance,
technology in mathematics teaching and research.

The African Mathematical Union can be viewed as having a kind of
federal structure. Thus mathematical sciences associations or
societies in African countries are members of the AMU. Though not
framed as such, the African Mathematical Union can, further, be
viewed as the 'African wing' of the International Mathematical
Union. Over the years, African mathematicians have participated in a
number of IMU congresses.

Further information on the September 2004 Congress can be obtained in
different ways. The Congress address is
PACOM2004, C/o. Prof. Dr. A. Boukricha, Université de Tunis El Manar,
B.P. 63, 1013 Tunis, République Tunisienne,
the phoning number is +216 71 703 746; the fax number is +21671 885 350.
They can also be reached by e-mail at The web site is
found at
The deadline for submission of abstracts for all forms of presentations
listed above is 30 May 2004.

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International Commission on the History of Mathematics (ICHM)

The International Commission on the History of Mathematics is an
inter-union commission joining the International Mathematical
Union (IMU) and the Division of the History of Science (DHS) of
the International Union for the History and Philosophy of
Science (IUHPS). The ICHM is comprised of representatives of
some fifty-five nations - those nations internationally in which
the history of mathematics is taught and/or actively researched
and is governed by a nine-person Executive Committee. The
original Commission on the History of Mathematics (CHM) was
founded in 1969 to consider the possibility of founding a
specialized journal in the field. It met for the first time in
1970 at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Nice and
was made a permanent institution - the ICHM - in 1971 at the
Thirteenth International Congress on the History of Science in

Its earliest history was thus intimately linked to the
communities of both mathematicians and historians of science.
The ICHM has these international aims: first, to encourage the study
of the history of mathematics, and, second, to promote a high level
of historically and mathematically sophisticated scholarship in the
field. It works to realize these goals in a number of ways. Perhaps
first and foremost, it oversees its official journal, Historia
Mathematica. Founded as a result of the CHM and then ICHM initiative
in 1974 by Kenneth O. May, Historia Mathematica publishes original
research on the history of the mathematical sciences in all periods
and in all cultural settings.

The ICHM also engages in a variety of special projects and regular
activities to promote and encourage the history of mathematics. The
most recent special project is the book, Writing the History of
Mathematics: Its Historical Development, coedited by Joseph W.
Dauben and Christoph Scriba and published in the fall of 2002 by
Birkhäuser Verlag. This volume represents the combined efforts of
several dozen historians of mathematics internationally and traces
the history and methodology of the history of mathematics in
different countries throughout the world. The book also contains
appendices that provide invaluable and hard-to-obtain biographical
information on key scholars of the history of mathematics in
addition to exhaustive bibliographical information.

Among the ICHM's regular activities, four are of particular

First, the ICHM sponsors or co-sponsors scientific
symposia at the International Congresses of the History of Science,
at meetings of national history of scienceand mathematics societies,
and at other conferences. In the past two years it has co-sponsored
(with the Institute for Mathematics of the Chinese Academy of
Sciences (CAS) and the Institute for History of Natural Sciences
(CAS)) an "International Colloquium for the History of Mathematics"
at Northwest University in Xi'an, China, 15-18 August, 2002; (with
the British Society for the History of Mathematics) a "Tercentenary
Meeting in Honor of John Wallis" in October 2003 at Oxford
University, United Kingdom; and (with the American Mathematical
Society and the Mathematical Association of America) a day-long
series of lectures in the Special Session on the History of
Mathematics in January 2004 in Phoenix, Arizona, United States.

Second, the ICHM awards, once every four years on the occasion of
the International Congress on the History of Science, the Kenneth O.
May Medal to historians of mathematics for outstanding contributions
to the history of mathematics. The most recent recipients of the
Kenneth O. May Medal - Ubiratan d'Ambrosio (Sao Paolo, Brazil) and
Lam Lay Yong (Singapore) - were announced in Mexico City in August
2001. The next May Medallists will be announced in Beijing in 2005.

Third, the ICHM maintains a website at
which it hopes will come to serve the international community of
historians of mathematics as a source of current information on
upcoming conferences and symposia as well as on other information
pertinent to members of the field. Fourth, the ICHM is creating a
web-based World Directory of Historians of Mathematics in an effort
better to link historians of mathematics around the world.

Karen Hunger Parshall, Chair
International Commission on the History of Mathematics

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