The International Commission on Mathematical Instruction
Bulletin No. 47 
December 1999


IMU, ICMI and the ICMI Affiliated Study Groups:

Some Formal Information


Participants to ICMI activities sometimes ask questions concerning various organizational aspects related to ICMI, to its Affiliated Study Groups, and eventually to IMU.  While legal or formal texts might not constitute the most exciting reading material, and are certainly very limited in allowing one to really grasp the flavor of the kind of activities under the responsibility of a specific group, it was felt appropriate to present such information to the reader in a systematic way.  Most of the following information corresponds to organizational decisions formally adopted by some official bodies, and can be found on appropriate websites or documents published by the groups.  The reader will note that two of the Affiliated Study Groups have not yet adopted formal constitution-type regulations, whether they saw this as unnecessary for their purposes or have not been able to reach agreement on such rules, and are functioning more on the basis of tradition.

It might be worth reminding the legal context in which ICMI has its existence.  The International Commission on Mathematical Instruction, ICMI, was first established in 1908 at the International Congress of Mathematicians held in Rome.  Its first President and Secretary-General were respectively Felix Klein and Henri Fehr.  After an interruption of activity between the two World Wars, ICMI was reconstituted in 1952, at a time when the international mathematical community was being reorganized, as an official commission of the International Mathematical Union, IMU.  This has been the state of affairs since then.  Thus, the Terms of Reference of ICMI are established by the General Assembly of IMU, which is also responsible for the election of the Executive Committee of the Commission.  Moreover, the far majority of the funding of ICMI comes from IMU. [Readers interested by the historical development of ICMI are referred to a paper by former ICMI Secretary A. Geoffrey Howson, "Seventy-five years of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction", Educational Studies in Mathematics 15 (1984) 75-93, as well as to the recent book by former IMU Secretary Olli Lehto, Mathematics Without Borders: A History of the International Mathematical Union, Springer-verlag, 1998.]

Since the mid-70's, a number of study groups, each focussing on a specific field of interest and study, have obtained affiliation to ICMI as so-called Affiliated Study Groups.  The current Affiliated Study Groups, with their year of affiliation to ICMI, are

The International Study Group on the Relations between the History and Pedagogy of Mathematics  (1976)
The International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education  (1976)
The International Organization of Women and Mathematics Education  (1987)
The World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions  (1994)

The Affiliated Study Groups are neither appointed by ICMI nor operating on behalf or under the control of ICMI.  In other words, they work independently of ICMI, also in terms of finances, but they produce quadrennial reports to be presented to the General Assemblies of ICMI, held during the International Congresses on Mathematical Education.  In addition to meeting in connection with the ICMEs, the Affiliated Study Groups hold separate meetings on a more or less regular basis.  Readers interested in the activities of a specific Affiliated Study Group should consult its website or be in contact with one of its officers.  Addresses will be found in the pages that follow.

Bernard R. Hodgson, Secretary