The World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions had an active program during the recent ICME-9 Conference held in Tokyo-Makuhari. The organization and facilities in Tokyo were outstanding. The close proximity of many facilities enabled highly useful contribution between the many delegates from all parts of the world.
The WFNMC organised a varied program of talks on a variety of topics and closely coordinated with TSG18, Mathematics Competitions in Mathematics Education. In addition, there were some business meetings in which elections, presentations of awards, and discussion on the future took place.
Peter Taylor (Australia) was elected President after Ron Dunkley had made known his intention to stand down. Ron was elected as Chairman of the Awards Committee, while Maria de Losada (Colombia) was elected to the vacant Vice-President position. Bulgaria's Petar Kenderov assumes the Senior Vice-Presidency, together with the Chairmanship of the Program Committee.
At the end of the General Meeting Ron Dunkley was presented with a crystal decanter, engraved with the WFNMC logo, to honour his many years of service to WFNMC since it was founded at ICME-5 in Adelaide in 1984. He was an inaugural Vice-President, founded the international conferences of WFNMC with an outstanding conference at Waterloo (WFNMC1) in 1990, filled in the gap to become President in 1996 and saw through, at his own initiative, a Constitution, which was approved in 1996.
The full list of the new Executive and various subcommittee members can be found at the WFNMC web site
Erdös Award Presentations
Two mathematical educators, Francisco Bellot Rosado (Spain) and János Surányi (Hungary), were presented with WFNMC Paul Erdös Awards for outstanding contribution to mathematical enrichment both in their own countries and internationally. A third award will be made to Istvan Reiman (Hungary) in Budapest during October.
A program of excellent lectures was presented in cooperation with the ICME organisers of TSG18. The full program, together with abstracts, can be found on the WFNMC web site. Highlight was possibly the Japanese speaker Nob Yoshigahara, a puzzle creator, who showed some ideas which might also be useful in the creation of mathematics problems.
Forum on Future Directions
The last session took the form of a forum on future directions of WFNMC. Now that WFNMC has an established Constitution, it is seeking to define its role more clearly in the next few years.
It also intends to articulate the role and use of competitions in mathematics education. The forum took the place of addresses by four members from different continents, followed by open discussion.
One of the main results was a decision to form a task group to consider and report on ways in which teachers may become more involved with activities. Other aims in the next four years will be to develop a statement on the role and scope of WFNMC, not only with competitions but related activities such as enrichment courses, mathematics clubs, mathematics camps, problems journals and resources for teachers and how WFNMC sees the benefits of competitions and the related activities to mathematical education in general. Finally, a web site will be developed to attempt to make on-line the various significant competitions and related activities around the world, a description of the competitions, and contact details.
Presentation of Latvian Medals
This year is the 50th year of the Latvian Mathematical Society, which decided to commemorate the year by awarding Gold Medals to a number of mathematicians and mathematical educators who had made international contributions to their field. At this conference four such medals were presented by Agnis Andjans and Liga Ramana, on behalf of the Latvian Mathematical Society, to Nikolay Konstantinov (Russia), Andy Liu (Canada), Jordan Tabov (Bulgaria) and Peter Taylor (Australia).
A Brief History
The WFNMC is an organisation founded at ICME-5 in Adelaide in 1984. It has until 2000 had three Presidents, two of whom have served for long terms and made significant individual contributions.
The founder of WFNMC was Peter O'Halloran, who was President until his death in 1994. He conceived the idea of such an organization in which mathematicians from different countries could compare their experiences and hopefully improve their activities as a result. Unlike the International Mathematical Olympiad, an event designed to enable the elite students of all countries to test their skills against each other, the WFNMC was always designed to have wider application, enabling students of all standards to be involved and hopefully benefit.
The first principal method of communication was a Newsletter, published soon after founding of the organisation, later to become the Journal "Mathematics Competitions". This Newsletter was initially edited by Warren Atkins (Australia). Warren has continued as Editor seeing its growth through to the establishment of the Journal, and he is still its Editor today. The Journal has always been published by AMT Publishing, a subsidiary of the Australian Mathematics Trust.
Peter O'Halloran also established two prestige Awards, the David Hilbert Award (which was presented to Peter before he died) and the Paul Erdös Award. Both are intended to recognise achievement in establishing Mathematical Enrichment Programs, as recognised from an international perspective. Up to three of these Awards are now made every two years.
During Peter's Presidency WFNMC was established as the fourth Study Group affiliated with ICMI. WFNMC has now been able to participate as an Affiliated Study Group in each of the last three ICME congresses, conducted each fourth year by ICMI.
After Peter O'Halloran's death in 1994, Blagovest Sendov, of Bulgaria, became the second President. Unfortunately for WFNMC, but fortunately for the country of Bulgaria, Blagovest was not able to stay in this position for long. He was elected to the Bulgarian Parliament, and became Chairman of the Parliament, one of the most responsible positions in the country.
In early 1996 he resigned and Senior Vice President Ron Dunkley, of Canada, filled the breach. Ron is a highly experienced mathematics educator and was one of those responsible for introducing the Canadian Competitions at the University of Waterloo in 1963. It was Peter O'Halloran's study leave at Waterloo in 1973 where he first learnt of mathematics competitions on a wide scale and planned the introduction of similar events, adapted to local conditions, in Australia.
Ron Dunkley's contribution to WFNMC has also been profound, as described above. Now retired, Ron decided that it was time to move on, and he announced that he would not be available as President. We are fortunate that he will stay on the Executive for a further four years as Chairman of the WFNMC Awards Committee.
Peter Taylor, President of WFNMC
Australian Mathematics Trust
University of Canberra,
Belconnen, ACT 2616, AUSTRALIA