IMU-Net 44: November 2010

A Bimonthly Email Newsletter from the International Mathematical Union
Editor: Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel, University Paris Descartes, Paris, France


1. Editorial
2. Inauguration of the new permanent office of IMU
3. IMU on the Web
4. ICIAM 2011
5. Subscribing to IMU-Net



Starting my last month as the President of the IMU, it is time to make
an inventory (short and superficial perhaps) of the successes and
frustrations of the last four years. Where is the IMU heading?

The main task of the Executive Committee was, of course, to organize
the Congress (including awarding the main Prizes). Thanks to a large
degree to the devoted and unrelenting work of the Indian local
organizers, the Congress has been a great success. Among the other
achievements of the last four years, I would mention establishing the
permanent Secretariat of the IMU, launching the Chern Medal Award, and
setting up the Friends of IMU, a not-for-profit organization
registered in the US, which can receive and handle donations for
awards, supporting activities in developing countries, and other
causes in line with the goals of the IMU.

Together with ICIAM and IMS, we produced a very well-received report
on "Citation Statistics", which (we believe) provides a balanced and
detailed analysis of citation statistics and impact factors. But this
also brings me to one of the unfinished businesses, which we have to
leave to the next EC: the community expects more specific
recommendations, and perhaps an ongoing monitoring of the quality of
journals, how it is measured, and how these measurements should be
used. There are many related issues that worry our community:
copyrights, open access journals, retro-digitalization, bulk
subscriptions (and I am sure the reader can name more of these).
Clearly the IMU cannot solve these, but we do have an obligation to
monitor the developments, and recommend best practices whenever

I believe that the IMU should be concerned with all aspects of
mathematics: research, applications, education, popularization. On
some of these issues, our work goes well. We have excellent relations
with ICIAM, we improved our relations with ICMI. We paid special
attention to developing countries; it is another issue that due to our
limited resources and the enormity of the problems, the results of
these efforts are not (yet) too visible. We have to find the ways of
cooperating with other (non-mathematical) scientific unions; general
problems on which many of them collaborate (like global warming and
sustainable development) cannot be solved without mathematical
methods, but there are no mechanisms in place to involve the IMU. We
have made efforts to improve our connections, but the real
breakthrough will have to be achieved by the next EC.

Finally, on a more personal note, I found the Presidency of the IMU
very challanging, demanding, and rewarding. It was a great opportunity
to learn the many aspects of our science and to serve a vibrant and
very friendly community. I was very furtunate to be able to work with
an excellent Executive Committee, committed and cooperative, and we
worked in a very friendly athmosphere. Two people I want to thank in
particular: John Ball, who, as Past President, would have had all the
right to lean back and enjoy the role of giving wise advice. He did
give wise advice, but in addition, he accepted a number of very
difficult tasks, and performed them with great devotion and success.
Martin Grötschel, our Secretary, worked extremely hard, and kept his
eye on all the complex issues that we were facing.

I am not saying good bye, since as Past President, I will be an
ex-officio member the EC for four more years. I do hope that we can
achieve progress on the old and new issues facing the IMU. Happy New
Year to all of you!

Laszlo Lovasz,
President of IMU


2. Inauguration of the new permanent office of IMU

The IMU General Assembly in Bangalore decided in August 2010 to
establish a permanent IMU secretariat in Berlin, Germany. This new IMU
office will be hosted at the Weierstrass Institute.
The formal opening of the new IMU Secretariat will be on February 1, 2011.
In addition to the current IMU President Laszlo Lovasz, IMU's next
President Ingrid Daubechies, ICMI President Bill Barton, many members
of the new CDC, and several other representatives of IMU and the
mathematicians in Berlin and Germany, the Deputy of the Federal
Minister of Germany for Education and Research, the Minister of
Education, Science and
Research of the State of Berlin and various other celebrities will
participate in this event.



Few authors can look at their list of publications and see their name
represented one and only one way. The variability of author names,
especially now as data from different disciplinary databases comes
together at the scale of the web, presents opportunities and
challenges. Various traditional literature index and abstract
services, as well as most major publishers have found it necessary to
create internal individual author identifying numbers as they offer
search by author. A short overview of this
problem is "Author Identification Systems" by A. Ben Wagner (Wagner1).

ORCID ( is a recently formed non-profit
organization dedicated to solving the name ambiguity problem in
scholarly research. ORCID plans to establish a registry that would be
adopted and embraced as the de facto standard for author identification by the
entire academic community. The value of such identifiers has been widely
recognized: to allow authors due credit for their work, to assist
researchers in navigating the vast universe of bibliographic data, and
to facilitate collaborations between authors with similar or
complimentary interests. The 14 directors of ORCID include
representatives from major universities and library organizations, as
well as scholarly societies and commercial publishers (Cornell,
Harvard, MIT, OCLC, ACM, J Wiley Inc), the Wellcome Trust (a funding
organization with a strong commitment to open access), and
representatives of both commercial and non-commercial publishers.

For mathematicians, the major disciplinary services, Math Reviews and
ZMATH have strong traditions of bibliographic data management,
including establishment of author names.
The work of such subscription services would undoubtedly be enhanced
through interaction with ORCID. At the same time, as library budgets
continue to come under pressure, librarians have noticed and begun to
wonder generally about subscription costs associated with these
services (Chen1 and Chen2). Some of us find many users satisfied with
the "good enough" nature of searching Google Scholar.

Mathematicians should give attention to discussion at their own
institutions about cost-benefit of the various bibliographic services.
Prior CEIC recommendations concerning posting of author versions of
one's individual works remain highly relevant. Is your own web page up
to date with your most recent work?

These are early days for the ORCID initiative. There are a number of
technical, financial, and legal issues which need to be addressed.
More announcements should be available soon on the project web page;
and we look forward to wider discussion among mathematicians across
the research spectrum of questions arising around the interplay of
subscription services and open bibliographic data. According to Tim
Berners-Lee, the web is on its way to becoming a web of "linked data"
-- data from pages of
individuals as well as pools of other sorts of data, such as
bibliographic elements.

Carol Hutchins, Librarian
Courant Institute of Mathematical Science
New York University


Jim Pitman,
Director, Bibliographic Knowledge Network Project
Professor of Statistics and Mathematics, University of California Berkeley
(Wagner 1) A. Ben Wagner, “Article Identification Systems", Issues in
Science and Technology Librarianship???, Fall, 2009

(Chen 1) Xiaotian Chen, "Google Scholar's Dramatic Coverage
Improvement Five Years after Debut", Serials Review", vol. 36, n°4, p.
221-226, 2010",

(Chen 2) Xiaotian Chen, "The Declining Value of Subscription-based
Abstracting and Indexing Services in the New Knowledge Dissemination
Era, Serials Review, vol. 36, n°2, p.79-85, 2010",

(ii)Passing away of Alf Van der Poorten
We note with sadness the passing of Alf van der Poorten, on October 9,
2010. Alf was a number theorist and emeritus professor at Macquarie
University in Sydney, Australia. He was part of the Australian
delegation to the IMU GA during 1998, 2002, and 2006.
He was a member of CEIC since its inception in 1998, and for two terms
thereafter, during which he offered insightful and lively comments on
the developing digital library and publishing scene as related to
I regret not knowing him personally, but his remarks in this
newsletter always resonated with me. Alf suggested in IMU-Net Number
12, referring to the idea that older material should be systematically
made freely available , “Although this ‘moving wall’principle has
only been sporadically embraced it presents our best hope for building
the citation web.??? I feel similarly chagrined that so much older
literature remains
unavailable. I also imagine that Alf would appreciate a current essay
by Robert Darnton, historian and University Librarian at Harvard on
the state of things: “The Library: Three Jeremiads???, New York Review
of Books, December 23, 2010.

Carol Hutchins, Librarian
Courant Library of Mathematical Sciences
New York University


4. ICIAM 2011

ICIAM 2011 will be held in Vancouver, BC, Canada from July 18-22, 2011.
Registration is now live on
Early bird rates will be available until February 28, 2011.
For more information, see



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