IMU-Net 42: July 2010

A Bimonthly Email Newsletter from the International Mathematical Union

Editor: Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel, University Paris Descartes, Paris, France

CONTENTS

1. Editorial

2. IMU Prizes and Medals 2010

3. A contribution by D. Mumford

4. IMU on the Web

5. IMU booklet

6. A new President for EMS

7. Passing away of V. Arnold

8. Kyoto Prize

9. Ramanujan Prize Call for Nominations

10. Subscribing to IMU-Net

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1. EDITORIAL

As the Hyderabad ICM approaches, I would like to draw your attention

to two events to be held there.

The first, on Wednesday 25 August from 17.00-19.00, is a panel

discussion meeting organized by the London Mathematical Society on

Mechanisms for strengthening mathematics in developing countries. This

meeting will highlight three such mechanisms, the Mentoring African

Research in Mathematics project (MARM), the IMU Volunteer Lecturer

Program, and the work of the International Centre for Theoretical

Physics (ICTP) Trieste. The questions to be addressed include: What

are the best mechanisms? What principles should underlie them? Are

there effective ways in which different types of project can

cooperate? How can individuals and institutions contribute to these

efforts?

The second, on Thursday 26 August from 18.00-20.00 is a Round Table

organized by CEIC and chaired by IMU President László Lovászon The

use of metrics in evaluating research. It will be a follow-up meeting

to the IMU/ICIAM/IMS report on Citation Statistics

www.mathunion.org/fileadmin/IMU/Report/CitationStatistics.pdf ,

which highlighted the dangers of uncritical use of impact factors,

which play an increasing role in funding, promotions and library

purchases. The Round Table will consider such questions as: Are

impact factors and other such indices good measures of journal

quality, and should they be used to evaluate research and individuals?

What can be done about unethical practices like impact factor

manipulation? Is there a role for metrics in evaluating research? Are

there better alternatives?

If you are attending the ICM I hope you will consider participating in

these meetings, which concern matters of central importance to the

international mathematical community.

John Ball

Chair, IMU Committee on Electronic Information and Communication (CEIC)

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2. IMU PRIZES AND MEDALS 2010

One of the "big events" in mathematics is the quadrennial ICM Opening

Ceremony. In 2010 this takes place in Hyderabad, India, where, e.g.,

on August 19 between 9:30 and 12:30 Indian time, Shrimati Pratibha

Patil, the Honourable President of India, will give away the IMU

awards (a medal and a cheque for each of the prize winners). All

recipients will attend the ceremony, their names remain secret until

August 19.

IMU is grateful to the selection committees who have done a great job

by selecting outstanding mathematicians for the Fields Medal

(recognizing outstanding mathematical achievement), the Rolf

Nevanlinna Prize (honoring distinguished achievements in mathematical

aspects of information science), the Carl Friedrich Gauss Prize (for

outstanding mathematical contributions with significant impact outside

of mathematics), and the new Chern Medal (awarded to an individual

whose accomplishments warrant the highest level of recognition for

outstanding achievements in the field of mathematics). For the Fields

Medal and the Nevanlinna Prize the 40th birthday of a recipient must

not have occurred before January 1, 2010.

The Web page with detailed information about the Prizes has been

updated and contains new photos of the medals as well as information

about the physical properties of the medals (they are all made of

gold) and the cash values of the awards. If you are interested check

www.mathunion.org/general/prizes

www.mathunion.org/general/prizes/physical-medals-and-cash-awards/

and the links on these Web pages.

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3. A CONTRIBUTION BY D.MUMFORD

David Mumford, President of IMU in the years 1995-1998, has sent the

editor the following paper, written on the occasion of the ICM in 1998.

With the ICM 2010 coming up, the editor believes his thoughts are of

interest to the readers of IMU-Net. See

www.mathunion.org/fileadmin/IMU/Trends-in-Math-ICM98.pdf

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4. IMU ON THE WEB

"The Future Impact of Internet-Based Technologies on Academic"

Abridged version of an address by Terence Tao given at a meeting of

the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, on the occasion of his

induction into the Academy, October 10, 2009.

[Editor's Note:

- Terence Tao is Professor of Mathematics at University of California,

Los Angeles (UCLA). He is Fields medalist 2006. His blog is

terrytao.wordpress.com

- full version of the address at

www.amacad.org/publications/bulletin/winter2010/ceremony.pdf

and printed in Bulletin of the American Academy, v. 62(2) : 3-5 2010.

Short version available at the author's blog.]

"It’s a great honour, both to be inducted to the Academy and to address

you all today. I must confess that while I have given over a hundred

scientific talks, this is only my second speech; and the first one was

when I was nine. So I please bear with me; I’ll try not to sound like

a nine-year-old.

I would like to talk about the impact of the internet, and all the

unreasonably effective services it has spawned, from modern search

engines to Wikipedia.

We know that the internet has revolutionised area after area:

entertainment, journalism, politics will never be the same again. But

those of us in academia like to feel protected in our ivory towers

from the internet revolution, with our tenure, our expertise, and our

academic traditions. After all, our classes can’t be replaced by a

Wikipedia entry, and our research can’t be replaced by a search engine

– not yet, anyway.

Nevertheless, I believe major change is already underway.

Consider teaching, for instance. There is a mathematical topic –

Mobius transformations – which is taught in a thousand mathematics

departments across the world, to perhaps thirty or fifty students at a

time. I’ve done so myself many times.

But if you do a web search for Mobius transformations, you’ll find a

beautiful video on YouTube explaining this concept clearly, which has

been viewed one million, six hundred thousand times – more people than

can be reached by ten thousand mathematics classes.

On a smaller scale, hundreds of academics (including myself) have

actively pushed their classes onto the internet, using such tools as

blogs. I have had classes with perhaps thirty local students but up to

a hundred online participants. Even after the physical class ends, the

online class goes on, with new visitors stumbling onto the class via a

search engine and continuing the conversation.

These tools can have unexpected uses; for instance, I posted a draft

of this talk online a few weeks ago, and got a tremendous amount of

valuable feedback in return.

Or consider research. This year, for instance, by ad hoc usage of

existing tools such as blogs and wikis, the first “polymath???projects

were launched – massively collaborative mathematical research

projects, completely open for any interested mathematician to drop in.

The very first such project solved a significant problem in

combinatorics after almost six weeks of effort, with almost a thousand

small but non-trivial contributions from dozens of participants. It

was a novel, transparent, and lively way to initiate and then do

mathematics. One participant even compared his anticipation to seeing

the latest developments on a polymath project to the suspense one

might feel while watching a TV or movie drama. (You had to be there, I

guess.)

Academia has not experienced massive change – on the scale of the

industrial revolution – since the invention of the printing press.

With the advent of the internet – the modern day analogue of the

printing press, among other things – could it be revolutionized once

again?"

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5. IMU BOOKLET

The International Mathematical Union has produced an information

brochure with a survey of all current IMU activities. The printed

version of this booklet

will be distributed to all participants of the International Congress

of Mathematicians 2010 in Hyderabad. The booklet can be downloaded from

www.mathunion.org/fileadmin/IMU/ICM2010/hyderabad_booklet.pdf

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6. A NEW PRESIDENT FOR THE EUROPEAN MATHEMATICAL SOCIETY

The Council meeting of the European Mathematical Society, held in Sofia

(Bulgaria) on July 10-11 2010, has elected Marta Sanz-Solé as new

President of the Society for the years 2011-2014.

Marta Sanz-Solé is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Barcelona.

For more information:

www.euro-math-soc.eu/node/665

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7. PASSING AWAY OF PROFESSOR VLADIMIR ARNOLD

Professor Vladimir Arnold passed away on June 3, 2010. He was Vice

President of IMU (1995-98) and member of the Executive Committee of

IMU (1999-2002).

See:

www.gazeta.ru/science/2010/06/03_a_3379953.shtml

images.math.cnrs.fr/Vladimir-Igorevich-Arnold-est-mort.html

www.lemonde.fr/carnet/article/2010/06/03/le-mathematicien-russe-vladimir-arnold-est-mort_1367545_3382.html

www.nytimes.com/2010/06/11/science/11arnold.html

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8. KYOTO PRIZE

The Inamori Foundation promoting academic and cultural development

and international understanding, annually awards three Kyoto Prizes to those

who have contributed significantly in the categories of Advanced

Technology, Basic Sciences, and Arts and Philosophy.

The laureate for the 2010 Kyoto Prize in the category "Basic Sciences"

is IMU President László Lovász for "Outstanding Contributionsto

Mathematical Sciences Based on Discrete Optimization Algorithms".

More details can be found at:

www.inamori-f.or.jp/e_kp_lau_thi.html

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9. RAMANUJAN PRIZE CALL FOR NOMINATIONS

ICTP has created the Ramanujan Prize for young mathematicians from

developing countries. The Prize is funded by the Niels Henrik Abel

Memorial Fund.

The Prize is awarded annually to a researcher from a developing country

less than 45 years of age on 31 December of the year of the award, who has

conducted outstanding research in a developing country. Researchers

working in any branch of the mathematical sciences are eligible. The Prize

carries a $15,000 cash award and travel and subsistence allowance to visit

ICTP for a meeting where the Prize winner will be required to deliver a

lecture. The Prize is usually awarded to one person, but may be shared

equally among recipients who have contributed to the same body of work.

ICTP awards the prize through a selection committee of five eminent

mathematicians appointed in conjunction with the International

Mathematical Union (IMU). The deadline for receipt of nominations for

the 2010 Prize is 30 September 2010.

Please send nominations to director@ictp.it describing the work of the

nominee in adequate detail. Two supporting letters should also be arranged.

For more information, see:

prizes.ictp.it/prizes/Ramanujan/

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10. SUBSCRIBING TO IMU-NET

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Previous issues can be seen at:

www.mathunion.org/imu-net/archive/