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Report to the International Mathematical Union 2004-2005

Karen Hunger Parshall (Chair) and Jan P. Hogendijk (Secretary)

In 2004-2005, the International Commission for the History of Mathematics (ICHM) has continued to pursue its dual aims of encouraging the study of the history of mathematics and of promoting a high level of historically and mathematically sophisticated scholarship in the field internationally. It has done so in the following ways:

Meetings of the Executive Committee (EC) of the ICHM

The EC meets at least four times yearly via e-mail to discuss matters of interest to the international history of mathematics community. It has just had its second e-meeting of 2005. Among the business discussed and the issues considered were: (in 2004) the broadening of the international representation on the EC (which resulted in a two-person increase of the EC membership) and the formation of a subcommittee to select the 2005 May Medalist; and (thus far in 2005) discussion of national ICHM representatives and the selection of new EC members.

Conferences /Symposia/ Congresses

In 2004-2005, the ICHM has contributed to, organized, or co-sponsored numerous conferences, symposia, and congresses internationally: Special Sessions at the annual joint meetings of the American Mathematical Society and Mathematical Association of America (United States) (2004, 2005) (for full reports of these sessions, see the ICHM website); and a Special Session in Honor of the Retirement of Ivor Grattan-Guinness entitled "The History of Nineteenth-Century Mathematics" at the joint meeting of the British Society for the History of Mathematics and the Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics (United Kingdom) (2004) (for a full report, see the ICHM website). The ICHM is co-sponsoring three Special Sessions at the International Congress for History of Science to be held in Beijing, China in July of 2005: "The Ten Classics of Ancient Chinese Mathematics" (organized by Joseph Dauben (United States), GUO Shuchun (China), and Alexei Volkov (Canada); "Along the Silk Road" (organized by LI Wenlin (China), YANO Michio (Japan), QU Anjing (China), and Benno van Dalen (The Netherlands/Germany); and "Multicultural Transmission of Mathematical Knowledge" (organized by SASAKI Chikara (Japan), Roshdi Rashed (France), Karine Chemla (France), and FENG Lisheng (China).


  • The ICHM has mounted and is maintaining on its web site a webpage of its activities and of matters of interest to historians of mathematics internationally.
  • The ICHM is presently compiling a database of information on historians of mathematics around the world. Relative to this World Directory effort, the ICHM has published "calls" to the international community of historians of mathematics to alert them to the existence of both the website and the questionnaire. These have appeared in journals Historia Mathematica, the Newsletter of the British Society for the History of Mathematics, the Newsletter of the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Mathematics, and the Newsletter of the Chinese History of Mathematics Society (in Chinese), among others. It is the ICHM's hope that these efforts will result in due course in a reasonably complete database of historians of mathematics.


Historia Mathematica is the official journal of the ICHM. It appears four times annually and publishes roughly 525 pages of original research in the history of mathematics from all times and cultures. From 2003 to the present, it has been edited by Craig Fraser (Canada) and Benno van Dalen (Germany). It is published by Elsevier Science and is available electronically to subscribers of IDEAL.


The Kenneth O. May Medal is awarded every four years to the historian or historians of mathematics whose work best exemplifies the high scholarly and intellectual contributions to the field that May worked so hard to achieve. It was awarded for the fifth time at a special ceremony in Utrecht, The Netherlands on 30 June, 2005 to Henk Bos (The Netherlands) for his ground-breaking work on the history of seventeenth-century mathematics (see the report on the ICHM webpages).

The members of the EC of the ICHM

The EC's current (through 2005) members are: Karen Hunger Parshall (United States), Chair; Craig Fraser (Canada), Vice Chair; Jan P. Hogendijk (The Netherlands), Secretary; Menso Folkerts (Germany), Treasurer; Natalja Ermolaeva (Russia); Alejandro Garcíadiego (Mexico); Niccolo Guicciardini (Italy); Sergio Nobre (Brazil); QU Anjing (China); Luis Saraiva (Portugal); SASAKI Chikara (Japan). Ex officio members are: Kirsti Andersen (Denmark); Joseph W. Dauben (United States); Eberhard Knobloch (Germany); and Christoph Scriba (Germany). The two IMU members are: Jeremy Gray (United Kingdom) and LI Wenlin (China).