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Report of the Commission on the History of Mathematics to the Division of the History of Science of the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science

August 1977

By Kenneth O. May, Chairman

Historia Mathematica 4 (1977), pp. 459-460

Since the last report of the Commission in 1974, the most important developments have been the further strengthening of its journal Historia Mathematica and the preparation of a new edition of the World Directory of Historians of Mathematics.

Historia Mathematica: 
The fourth volume will be completed this year. Since 1975 the number of subscriptions has grown from about 900 to 1200, of which 500 are from institutions. Editorial responsibilities have been reorganized to achieve some decentralization and assure continuity. To this end J.W. Dauben has been appointed Managing Editor, responsible for handling manuscripts, Judy Grabiner has become Book Review Editor, and a board of Associate Editors has replaced the old editorial board and collaborators.

Beginning with volume 4 (1977), Academic Press of New York has taken over the handling of subscriptions, printing and distribution. Format (photo-offset from typescript prepared in the editorial office), size (about 500 pages), and frequency (quarterly) remain the same. The abstracts are now prepared on a computer text-editing system and printed in a reduced type size. Editorial control remains in the hands of the editor, responsible to the Commission, as indicated on the cover and contents page of each issue. Since Academic Press covers the costs of the editorial work, continued support from the Canada Council was not requested. The number of sponsoring organizations has grown from 13 to 16.

The new edition is finished and requires only preparation for the printer. It will be about twice the size of the first edition of 1972, which played an important role in preparing for publication of the journal. It has been delayed by the constant growth of the directory file. Advance orders assure printing costs. The new edition should be off the press before the end of 1977.

Commission Membership and Activity: 
The members of the Commission and its Executive Committee have been consulted at intervals on matters of policy, and especially on the changes in editorial personnel. The Executive Committee has played an active role and functions as the legally responsible body. Some members of the Commission have been very active, both in giving advice and information as well as in promoting the journal.

In spite of the appointment of a special subcommittee on the Gauss Bicentennial, the Commission was unable to organize directly a special session at the Edinburgh Congress or a separate Commission-sponsored meeting on the occasion. However, numerous special events involving international participation were organized in particular countries and reported in HM.

Neither the Commission nor its Executive Committee has met between the 1974 Tokyo and 1977 Edinburgh Congresses. However, there has been extensive communication via circular letters and correspondence.

Notae de Historia Mathematica: 
This newsletter, having served its function in preparing for publication of the journal, ceased publication in 1973.

Neither the Commission nor the journal has received financial support from the Division of the History of Science of the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science. However, income and expenditures have been kept in balance from the beginning, and the journal has sufficient funds to work without such support.

Meeting of the Commission and Executive Committee on August 16 in Edinburgh: 
Unanimous agreement was given to the following proposals: 
(1) Terms of office of members of the  Commission and Executive Committee, the Editor, Managing Editor, Book Review Editor, and Associate Editors are four years, terminating with the year of the International Congress. (Reappointment is not excluded, and it is anticipated that only a few changes will be made on each occasion in order to involve new talent and avoid excessive burdening of a few individuals.) 
(2) The program committee of the next International Congress (to be held  in Bucharest in 1981) will be asked to organize a symposium on Poisson. 
(3) The Executive Committee for the coming four years will consist of C. J. Scriba (Chairman); S. S. Demidov (Vice-Chairman); L. Novy (Secretary); K.-R. Biermann, P. Dugac, J. V. Grabiner, I. Grattan-Guinness, R.C. Gupta, K.O. May.

At its meeting on 19 August, the General Assembly of the DHS of the IUPHS approved the new chairman of the Commission, judging that other decisions of the Commission did not require action on its part.