IMU-Net 16: March 2006

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

CONTENTS

  1. Editorial
  2. IMU news
  3. ICM 2006
  4. IMU on the Web
  5. Abel Prize
  6. News from ICHM
  7. News from ICMI
  8. Subscribing to IMU-Net
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1. EDITORIAL

Every student understands things worse than the best of his
teachers. Therefore any closed educational system degenerates
with exponential speed to a system of formal rituals, unless
its continuous superior teacher is Nature. This theorem
has numerous confirmations in countries where (by their own
laziness or other reasons) the research scientists weaken
their service as the intermediate link, i.e. in instructing the future
teachers, or teachers of teachers, etc.
I can only ask the Reader not to be this lazy...

The list of important purposes of education breaks quite
artificially into two parts, depending on whether they can be
explained to (and accepted by) politicians, taxpayers
and lazy students, or not. The first list orients us to
practical formal algorithms of everyday life, the second
to understanding and concepts. In the case of mathematics,
the discriminated against part contains, in particular, the art of
distinguishing correct considerations from wrong ones and
understanding the logical structure of everything; it has its origins
in the techniques of proving, first of all in geometry. The number of
logical oops in political talks, interviews and ads is huge, and the
fact of their public success is horrible. (Occasionally, a meeting
point of these two parts is Statistics : Pragmatically oriented
courses and related tests often teach one to accept statistical information
in a predictable and
unified way rather than in the mathematically correct one.)
In some countries these problems have been already widely discussed, while
some others face them only now. I hope that the (sometimes sad)
experience of the former can help the latter to avoid making the same
errors. Again, the active expertise by professional scientists should
be very important here.

Victor Vassiliev
Member of the Executive Committee of IMU

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2. IMU NEWS

The IMU Executive Committee met in Berlin 27-28 February. The main
topics of discussion involved preparations for ICM 2006 and for the
IMU General Assembly to be held in Santiago de Compostela (Spain).
Proposed changes to the Statutes and Procedures for Elections,
together with the General Assembly agenda, will be communicated to
Adhering Organizations in due course.


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3. ICM 2006

1) THE LIFE OF NUMBERS
The exhibition "The Life of Numbers" aims to illustrate through
manuscripts, books and other objects the life history of the
mathematical element best known by the general public: Numbers.
Exhibition at the Biblioteca national de Espana
June-September 2006

2) The ICM through History
This exhibition will review the history of the twenty four times the
International Congress of Mathematicians has taken place since the
first was held in Zürich in 1897.
The exhibition will be displayed at the Congress site.

3) Experiencing Mathematics!
The exhibition "Experiencing Mathematics!" has its origins in the
activities organized in 2000 by the International Mathematical Union
on the occasion of the World Year of Mathematics.
It has been sponsored by UNESCO and planned by the Centre Science of
Orléans (France).
See: http://www.MathEx.org
Centro cultural Conde Duque, Madrid
August-October 2006.

4) Archimedes' works : the ICM2006 edition
A facsimile edition of one work by Archimedes
(translated with commentary).

5) Fractal Art: Beauty and Mathematics
To commemorate an event as important as the ICM and as a tribute to
Benoit Mandelbrot, a Fractal Art exhibition is prepared at the Centro
Cultural Conde Duque and at the Congress site. It will exhibit high
quality works by the most important fractal artists in the world.

6) A treasury of Mathematics: El Escorial and its Library
Special Activity for the ICM 2006
Mathematical visit to El Escorial and its library.
Guided visits to El Escorial Monastery and its Library.
Departure from ICM 2006 venue (Palacio Municipal de Congresos) on 24,
25, 26, 27 & 29 Aug at 10.00h .
Duration: Approx: 4 hours.

7) Demoscene: Mathematics in movement
Demoscene consists in making computer programs in Assembly or in
languages of high potential and graphic efficiency, always generated
in real time, occupying a minimum of space in the computer memory,
usually about 64 K.
Location: Centro Cultural Conde Duque and Congress site

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4. IMU ON THE WEB

It's quite a bit easier to make a list of tasks to be done than
actually to do them. In that spirit, I mention several IMU on the Web
items I or my CEIC colleagues will write about --- one of these days.

1. Versioning: It is easy to change, even completely to delete, an
electronic document.
Clear rules in the spirit of the fine ones applied by the arXiv, see
{http://arxiv.org/help/versions}, must be adopted and rigorously
observed by electronic journals if our research literature is to
remain well-defined.

2. MATHML: What is it? Why? See {http://www.w3.org/Math/}.

3. The NUMDAM experience: The high standards adopted, the quality, and
the volume of output of Cellule Mathdoc at Grenoble make NUMDAM a
model numérisation=retrodigitisation effort. See {http://www.numdam.org/}.

4. Citations, impact factors, and other questionable statistics (see
{http://www.ceic.math.ca/News/IMUonWeb.shtml#CEIC11} for some
preliminary remarks).

5. How is a small academic journal to survive?

6. The World Digital Mathematics Library, see
{http://www.ceic.math.ca/WDML/index.shtml};

the DLMF {http://dlmf.nist.gov/}.

There'll be more of this list next time I forget to write or to
solicit suitable items.

Alf van der Poorten,
alfATmaths.usyd.edu.au, member of the CEIC.

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5. ABEL PRIZE

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has decided to award the
2006 Abel Prize to Lennart Carleson, Royal Institute of Technology,
Sweden. This was announced by the president of the Norwegian Academy,
Ole Didrik Lærum, in Oslo on 23 March. Carleson receives the Abel Prize
  "for his profound and seminal contributions to harmonic analysis and
  the theory of smooth dynamical systems", says Erling Størmer, the
chairman of the international Abel Committee. HRH King Harald will
present the Abel Prize to Lennart Carleson at an award ceremony in
Oslo 23 May 2006.
More information: http://www.abelprisen.no/en/

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6. ICHM

The International Commission for the History of Mathematics (ICHM)
continues to pursue its dual aims of encouraging the study of the
history of mathematics and of promoting a high level of historically
and mathematically sophisticated scholarship in the field internationally.

Among its ongoing projects are:
1) the publication of Historia Mathematica, the official journal of
the ICHM. Historia appears four times annually and publishes roughly
525 pages of original research in the history of mathematics from all
times and cultures. From 2003 to the present, it has been edited by
Craig Fraser (Canada) and Benno van Dalen (Germany). It is published
by Elsevier Science and is available electronically to subscribers of
IDEAL.
2) the compilation of a database of information on historians of
mathematics around the world. It is the ICHM's hope that a reasonably
complete database of historians of mathematics will be available in 2006.

In 2005, the ICHM also awarded the Kenneth O. May Medal, a prize given
every four years to the historian or historians of mathematics whose
work best exemplifies the high scholarly and intellectual
contributions to the field that May worked so hard to achieve. It was
awarded for the fifth time to Henk Bos (The Netherlands) for his
ground-breaking work on the history of seventeenth-century mathematics.
The ICHM also participated prominently in the International Congress
for the History of Science (http://2005bj.ihns.ac.cn/) held in
Beijing, China in July 2005.
In addition to these symposia, the ICHM also held its quadrennial
general business meeting on Monday, 25 July at the China Museum of
Science and Technology.
Finally, the ICHM co-sponsored a special session in the history of
mathematics at the annual joint meetings of the American Mathematical
Society held in San Antonio, Texas in January 2006.

Full accounts of all of the ICHM´s activities may be found on its website at
http://www.math.uu.nl/ichm

Karen Hunger Parshall, Chair ICHM

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7. ICMI : The ICMI Studies: Recent and Future Activities

Since the mid-80s, the International Commission on Mathematical
Instruction (ICMI) has found it important to involve itself directly
in the identification and investigation of issues or topics of
particular significance to the theory or practice of contemporary
mathematics education, and to invest efforts in mounting specific
studies on these themes. This has resulted in a most successful set of
activities of the Commission, the "ICMI Study Programme"
(http://www.mathunion.org/ICMI/ICMIstudies_org.html).
Each ICMI Study addresses an issue or topic of particular significance
in contemporary mathematics education, and is conducted by an
international team of leading scholars and practitioners in that
domain. The Study is built around an international conference
gathering both experts and newcomers to the field, and is directed
towards the preparation of a published volume which aims to offer a
coherent, state-of-the art representation of the domain of the Study.
These Study volumes appear in the New ICMI Study Series (NISS ---
http://www.springeronline.com/series/6351), published by Springer
under the general editorship of the President and Secretary-General of ICMI.
The Study Volume resulting from the 13th ICMI Study ("Mathematics
Education in Different Cultural Traditions: A Comparative Study of
East-Asia and the West") has recently appeared (NISS, vol. 9). The next
two volumes
in the series (resulting from the 14th ICMI Study on "Applications and
Modelling in Mathematics Education", and the 15th ICMI Study on "The
Professional Education and Development of Teachers of Mathematics")
will be published respectively in 2006 and 2007.
Two study conferences will take place in 2006: ICMI Study 16
("Challenging Mathematics In and Beyond the Classroom") and Study 17
("Digital Technologies
and Mathematics Teaching and Learning: Rethinking the Terrain").
The ICMI Executive Committee has recently launched two new Studies:
the 18th Study, on "Statistics Education in School Mathematics:
Challenges for Teaching and Teacher Education", organized jointly with
the International Association for Statistical Education (IASE), and
Study 19, on "The Role of Mathematical Reasoning and Proving in
Mathematics Education". The corresponding study conferences will take
place in 2008 and 2009.

Bernard R. Hodgson
Secretary-General of ICMI
bhodgson@mat.ulaval.ca

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8. SUBSCRIBING TO IMU-NET

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