IMU-Net 46: March 2011

A Bimonthly Email Newsletter from the International Mathematical Union

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

CONTENTS

1. Editorial

2. A permanent secretariat for IMU

3. IMU on the Web: About The Future of Mathematical Journals

4. ICM 2014

5. Abel Prize 2011

6. Subscribing to IMU-Net

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1. EDITORIAL

I am writing this as a new Member at Large of the Executive Committee,

elected at the General Assembly in Bangalore, just before the ICM at Hy-

derabad. I'd like to thank Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel for asking me to write

this Editorial.

Though my term in the EC officially started in January, 2011, I became

involved in IMU work during the ICM itself, after attending a joint meeting

of the then serving EC, and the new members present. One of the important

decisions at the GA in Bangalore was the vote to establish a Secretariat for

the IMU at WIAS, Berlin. An immediate task before the EC was to prepare

a Memorandum of Understanding between the IMU and the WIAS, which I

helped draft. Since then, I have been involved in several IMU related

matters, mostly through email discussion and (when needed) e-voting,

and most recently through participation in the EC meeting at Perth,

warmly hosted by continuing EC member Cheryl Praeger and the University

of Western Australia, her home university.

The IMU is expected to play an important role in guiding the

mathematical community (for instance, in responding to the

inappropriate use of metrics in the evaluation of research), and I am

glad to be part of that effort, along with other colleagues in the EC

and in the community. As someone who has been living and working in

India since 1983, I hope to bring that experience to the EC, to

provide a suitable perspective, when that is relevant. Diversity is an

important strength of the IMU, in my opinion, and acknowledges the

possibility of pursuing a reasonable mathematical career without

necessarily having to leave one's homeland. In the last Editorial, the

newly elected President articulated a vision for the rapid development

of mathematics in less endowed regions using internet resources, which

I found quite inspiring, and I am pleased to be associated with the

IMU efforts to make this possible.

Preparations for the ICM at Hyderabad began in earnest long ago, but

the real momentum was perhaps in the 18 months or so before the Congress.

I had a role in some of the extensive preparations, including membership

of the Editorial Board for the Proceedings, which I found very fascinating,

with the chance to read in advance copies of the texts of the

lecturers in many different fields, which I may not have come across

in the normal course of events. The ICM was a landmark event in the

modern history of Indian mathematics, and we in India hope to see the

excitement generated at the

ICM carry us forward to a greater flowering of Indian mathematics in the

coming years, as India itself undergoes many changes, moving us closer in

some ways to the developed world. India seems to be shrugging off a colonial

past, and as part of its efforts at upliftment, has started a number of new

Institutions of learning, for which it is seeking qualified faculty.

Thus, India is in the unusual position of having a large number of

vacancies for academics in the mathematical sciences, and is seeking

qualified people to fill them.

One hoped-for benefit of the ICM is to highlight the possible career options

in mathematics to young Indians, and their guardians, so that more young

people are motivated to take up mathematics, and related studies and careers.

By showing the vigour and excitement of mathematics in the world today,

we hope that the pursuit of mathematics as a viable and exciting career, and

also as an important resource for those choosing other careers, is brought to

the notice of more people in India. It is also planned to follow up the ICM

with other activities meant to reinforce these messages.

I look forward to working for the next four years with my new colleagues

on the IMU EC on the issues facing the IMU, and to learn from them, and

others, about ways in which we in India can foster our own mathematical

community.

Vasudevan Srinivas

Member at Large, IMU Executive Committee

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2. A PERMANENT SECRETARIAT FOR IMU

According to the decision of the 16th IMU General Assembly, Bangalore,

India on August 16, 2010 the IMU has got a permanent secretariat. This

happens for the first time in IMU's life, so far the secretariat always

moved to the home of the IMU Secretary. The permanent secretariat is

hosted by the Weierstrass Institute, Berlin, Germany. It started

operation in January 2011. The official inauguration of the permanent

IMU Secretariat took place on February 1. The IMU President Ingrid Daubechies

together with the State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of

Education and Research G. Schuette and the State Secretary for Science

and Research at the Berlin Senate K. Nevermann did the ribbon cutting

in the premises of the IMU Secretariat in the presence of national and

international guests and under the eyes of "the Prince of

Mathematicians" C.F. Gauss (from his portrait, of course, that adorned

the place). (See http://www.wias-berlin.de/imu/.) The secretarial

staff is composed of five persons: the manager (S. Markwardt), the

CDC/ICMI administrator (L. Koch), the IT administrator (H. Kalweit),

the accountant (A. Orlowsky), and the archivist (B. Seeliger).

Alexander Mielke from the Weierstrass Institute is the head of the IMU

secretariat and responsible for coordinating issues on the part of the

IMU Secretariat as well as the Weierstrass Institute. The

administrative work of the IMU Secretariat includes supporting the

activities of the IMU Executive Committee and IMU's subcommissions,

maintaining the IMU Web page, administrating the IMU finances, and

establishing and maintaining the IMU archive.

Thanks to the generous provision of resources and to the commitment of all

staff the IMU Secretariat will be able to efficiently contribute to

fostering the international cooperation of the mathematical community.

Sylwia Markwardt

IMU Secretariat Manager

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3. IMU ON THE WEB: About The Future of Mathematical Journals

Jean-Pierre BOURGUIGNON

(CNRS-Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques, Bures-sur-Yvette, France)

Recently I was invited to take part in a workshop on "The Future of

Mathematical Journals" held at MSRI at the initiative of the American

Mathematical Society and the London Mathematical Society. We all know

that this question is of paramount importance for the development of

our discipline. It has many aspects, some quite technical, some

economical and some political. The point I stressed in my presentation

at the workshop was the need to approach the problem using a systemic

approach, as it is typically a question in which secondary effects can

have, in the long run, the same impact as primary effects.

As we all know, mathematicians developed a usage of mathematical

journals that is, in many respects, specific to them. Journals are

supported by the community in the sense that submitting articles to

journals is free, and referees evaluate articles also for free,

although this work is sometimes extremely time consuming as it

requires thorough checking of content. Also, because of the long term

value of published articles, mathematicians care about the long term

accessibility to mathematical literature.

This model has been recently under great pressure for several reasons,

all connected to the new possibilities offered by internet to access

information. The question of "free access" has become a central issue.

It is not an easy one as it challenges the economical models on which

journals have been based in the last decade. It can actually be a

threat to learned society or academy-based publishers, who do not have

the financial plasticity of larger publishing houses.

My main concern is related to the fact that, in recent years,

mathematicians have been working under an increasing pressure, like

many other members of the academic community, because of the squeeze

of free time, the increasing role of funding coming through projects,

as well as the pressure to publish, their performance being more and

more rated on

the basis of bibliographic data.

In my view this introduces a real threat on content. Indeed,

mathematicians can devote less and less time to it because the

pressure to publish quickly is building up, but also because a lot of

time traditionally dedicated to evaluating the content of articles is

taken away by the demand for evaluating projects, structures, career

development, etc; in the last twenty years, these demands have grown

considerably at the expense of genuinely reading articles. The risk is

that more and more articles are read less carefully.

Another aspect of the threat comes from the mathematical community

itself: in the constrained environment we live in, more and more

published articles tend to be "almost" correct in the sense that the

true experts in the field can determine how some proofs (or some

statements) have to be modified (most often slightly) to make complete

sense, and to achieve what they promise.

The existence of "grey areas" in publications poses a real threat to

the development of the mathematical enterprise, since it may prevent

newcomers, and I think typically of young mathematicians from

communities that are being formed in emerging countries, from

participating in the advancement of mathematics at the right level.

This is both unfair and unhealthy for the discipline. As responsible

members of a scientific community, we should not tolerate that such a

situation develops, and fight against this tendency with determination.

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4. ICM 2014

A). PROGRAM STRUCTURE

The next International Congress of Mathematicians will take place in

Seoul, Republic of Korea from August 13-21, 2014. The IMU President

Ingrid Daubechies has appointed Carlos Kenig (Chicago, USA) as chair

of the Program Committee (PC) and the IMU Executive Committee has

chosen all other members of the PC. The Program Committee will meet in

October, 2011 in order to define the program structure of ICM 2014.

According to the PC/OC Guidelines, see

http://www.mathunion.org/ICM/PC/PC-OC-Guidelines-070521.pdf,

the PC is responsible for the ICM structure but is advised to use the

programs of previous ICMs as rough guidelines. Innovations, of course,

are not ruled out, and some Adhering Organizations and individuals may

have good ideas for changes to the program structure.

If you have suggestions on the program structure for the Program

Committee, please contact

Carlos Kenig via the following e-mail address:

PC-chair-ICM2014(at)mathunion.org

before September 1, 2011 so that your suggestions can be considered by

the ICM 2014 Program Committee.

B). PRE-REGISTRATION IS NOW AVAILABLE

Circular Letter 1

To all mathematicians interested in pre-registering for the ICM 2014:

Dear Colleague,

The next International Congress of Mathematicians, ICM 2014, will be held at

COEX Convention & Exhibition Center, Seoul, Korea, August 13-21, 2014

We stand ready to provide all possible support for a successful

congress and hope you can come and enjoy this event.

It is our pleasure to announce that the ICM 2014 Homepage has

officially opened where you are welcome to pre-register for the

congress.

Please visit our website where you will find simple instructions on

how to pre-register.

http://www.icm2014.org

Once you have pre-registered, you will be included in the ICM 2014

mailing list and will receive periodic ICM E-news for the next

three years. Once you pre-register, you will be able to log into

MyPage and modify your personal information or cancel your

pre-registration.

For any questions about ICM 2014, please send an email to

icm(at)icm2014.org

If electronic communication is not available you may also write to

SEOUL ICM 2014 Secretariat

The Korea Science and Technology Center 204

635-4 Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu

Seoul, 135-703, Korea

Fax +82-2-563-2022

Hoping to see you in Seoul.

Hyungju Park

Chairman, ICM 2014 Organizing Committee

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5. ABEL PRIZE 2011

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has decided to award the Abel

Prize for 2011 to John Milnor, Institute for Mathematical Sciences,

Stony Brook University, New York "for pioneering discoveries in

topology, geometry and algebra".

The President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Øyvind

Østerud, announced the winner of this year's Abel Prize at the Academy

in Oslo on 23 March.

John Milnor will receive the Abel Prize from His Majesty King Harald at an

award ceremony in Oslo on 24 May.

The Abel Prize recognizes contributions of extraordinary depth and

influence to the mathematical sciences and has been awarded annually

since 2003. It carries a cash award of NOK 6,000,000 (close to EUR

750,000 or USD 1 mill.)

John Milnor's profound ideas and fundamental discoveries have largely shaped

the mathematical landscape of the second half of the 20th century. All of

Milnor's work display features of great research: profound insights, vivid

imagination, striking surprises and supreme beauty. Milnor has also

written tremendously influential books, which are widely considered to

be models of fine mathematical writing.

For more information please go to the Abel prize web site:

http://www.abelprisen.no/en/

Note that the Abel committee's citation and the prize winner's biography

are available in the following languages: English, German, French, Spanish,

Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Chinese and Arabic.

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6. SUBSCRIBING TO IMU-NET

There are two ways of subscribing to IMU-Net:

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Subject: subscribe

In both cases you will get an e-mail to confirm your subscription so

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make it available to others.

Previous issues can be seen at:

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