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IMU-Net 41: May 2010

A Bimonthly Email Newsletter from the International Mathematical Union
Editor: Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel, University Paris Descartes, Paris, France


The single most important event of the Union this year is, of course our Congress in Hyderabad. But there is also an adjacent, but different event of great importance: The General Assembly in Bangalore on August 16 and 17, 2010.

The General Assembly meets once in every four years, traditionally just before the Congress. It performs many tasks vital for the functioning of the Union. Some of these are natural (and traditional). The GA has to elect the new leadership, including the next President, Vice Presidents, Secretary, and members of the Executive Committee (EC). Candidates for these positions have been found by the Nominating Committee, which is separate from the Executive Committee, and was headed by our former President David Mumford.

The other main body to be elected is the Commission for Developing Countries (CDC). In this form, this is a new Commission, whose charge is a combination of the charges of the former Commission for Development and Exchanges (CDE) and the Developing Countries Strategy Group. We hope that having a single commission to deal with all issues in connection with developing countries makes the work more efficient and decreases the possibility of important issues falling between the cracks.

There are other items on the agenda which are traditional: among others, the GA has to approve the site of the 2014 Congress, after hearing a presentation by the proposed organizers from Seoul, Korea. The EC will also report on successes (and also failures) in its activities: new prizes, a new fundraising organization, new memberships, cooperation with the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI), with UNESCO, and with other organizations.

But I want to say more about one agenda item that is extremely important: the establishment of a stable office. The last General Assembly (Santiago de Compostela, 2006) charged the EC with looking into the possibility of setting up such an office. It is natural to be skeptical about this: after all, the IMU has functioned very well over many years while staying as informal and un-bureaucratic as possible, just having a small office where the Secretary is located. But looking deeper into the issue made it clear that the charge by the GA was justified. With stricter and stricter legislation targeting money laundering and terrorism, it becomes more and more difficult to move the office from one continent to another any time a new Secretary is elected. There was also a pressing need to solve the problem of secretarial help for CDC and ICMI.

Looking deeper into the issue also revealed that, unfortunately, the finances of the Union do not allow the rental and staffing of a new office. Therefore we turned to the community for help, based on the idea that a larger research institute could, perhaps, find office space and secretarial capacity to spare for the IMU.

The reply was overwhelming, and I must say I was moved by this expression of support for the activities of IMU. We got 12 replies, expressing serious interest in hosting the stable office. After one round of discussions, we received six detailed proposals, all of which were very generous and each of which could provide a solution. After a lot of discussions, we selected three "finalists": in alphabetical order, the Fields Institute in Toronto, Instituto Nacional de Matemática Pura e Aplicada (IMPA) in Rio, and the Weierstrass Institute for Applied Analysis and Stochastics (WIAS) in Berlin. All three possible sites were visited by the "Stable Office Committee" appointed by the EC. The EC did not want to decide between these three outstanding offers, and will put it to the GA to decide whether to establish a stable office and, after presentations by the bidding institutions and by the Stable Office Committee, to select the location.

Establishing our stable office, along with other important decisions to be made by the GA, should provide proper conditions for the IMU to fulfil its tasks in a world where mathematics plays an ever-increasing role.

Laszlo Lovasz
President of IMU

IMU on the Web: EuDML Project News

In the light of mathematicians'reliance on their discipline’s rich published heritage and the key role of mathematics in enabling other scientific disciplines, the mathematical community has spent a huge effort over more than a decade (1) toward making the significant corpus of published mathematics scholarship available online, in the form of an authoritative and enduring distributed digital collection: The Digital Mathematics Library (DML).

While the initial idea of a centralized, worldwide initiative never approached consensus on governance and funding, many national projects led to the digitization of large quantities of mathematical literature, many of those based in Europe. Some of these acquired as well new material directly from their publishers, prefiguring building blocks of a global virtual infrastructure for third-party preservation and wide access to our mathematical heritage, as a natural extension of our traditional paper libraries. (2)

Regarding supranational integration of these collections, a breakthrough was achieved last year when the EuDML project obtained support from the European Commission in the framework of the Information and Communications Technologies Policy Support Programme. (3) EuDML will design and build a collaborative digital library service that will collate the mathematical content brought by 11 European partners and make it accessible from a single platform, tightly integrated with relevant infrastructures such as the Zentralblatt. As such, it will be the first attempt toward a large-scale implementation of the DML, and is expected to pave the way towards a truly inclusive and global DML. (4)

(1) For a history of the inception of the WDML project up to year 2004, visit .

(2) Two papers by Thierry Bouche (EuDML scientific coordinator) document the activities and thoughts that took place in the period 2005-2009:
(a) "Toward a digital mathematics library?", chapter in the book Communicating mathematics in the digital era (Jon Borwein, Eugénio Rocha, and José Rodrigues eds.): AK Peters Ltd, 2008, p. 47-73.
(b) "Digital Mathematics Libraries: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly", Mathematics in Computer Science v.3 (3), special issue on Authoring, Digitalization and Management of Mathematical Knowledge (Serge Autexier, Petr Sojka, and Masakazu Suzuki eds.) (May 2010), p. 227-241.

(3) Administrative profile as viewed by the European Commission:

(4) The EuDML website is currently only describing the project's plans: . It is expected to start to give access before summer 2011, and to provide a running service with many innovative ways of retrieving mathematical texts before the end of 2012.

Noteworthy Bits
1. The NIST Digital Library of Mathematical Functions has had its formal launch.
In addition, a book updating the original has been published by Cambridge University Press: NIST Handbook of Mathematical Functions, Edited by Frank W. J. Olver, Daniel W. Lozier, Ronald F. Boisvert, and Charles W. Clark ISBN-13: 9780521192255.

Dan Lozier introduces the work on this video,;

2. There is a project hosted in Google called LaTeX-Labs,
Here one will find links to a few other web-based LaTeX editors.

Thierry Bouche
Scientific coordinator of the EuDML project

ICM 2010

A) A general view
The year 2010 is significant for mathematics. It marks the centenary of the founding of the Indian Mathematical Society, while a second mathematical society - the Ramanujan Mathematical Society - will be celebrating its Silver Jubilee. India will be hosting the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) in Hyderabad during August 19-27, 2010. This is the first time in more than hundred years of history of the ICMs that the Congress will be held in India and only the third time in an Asian country (the 1990 Congress was held in Kyoto and the 2002 Congress in Beijing). Recent Congresses have had an attendance of around 3500 delegates. The General Assembly of IMU will also meet in Bangalore during 16-17 August.

India has a long tradition of pursuit of mathematics. The recognition of zero as a number and the place value system for representing numbers with its use is an Indian innovation dating back to the early centuries of the Christian era. India had also made progress in geometry contemporaneous with the Greeks and even earlier. During the middle ages, India recorded substantial achievements in algebra as well. Aryabhata and Brahmagupta were mathematicians of the first rank. Madhava, a fourteenth century mathematician from South West India had discovered the essentials of calculus long before Newton and Leibniz. But all this was in an era when science was pursued by isolated intellectuals with no serious impact on the practical world.

India was among the participant countries in the meetings that led up to the formation of the new IMU. Despite its role in the deliberations that resulted in the formation of the new IMU, India became a member of the IMU only in 1954 - two years after its inception. K Chandrasekharan, an eminent Indian mathematician served with distinction on the Executive Committee of the IMU for a period of twenty four consecutive years, five of them as Secretary and four as President of the Union.

Among the exciting events that will take place on the sidelines of the Congress will be a Classical Indian (Hindustani) Music Concert by the renowned artist Rashid Khan, an Indian Dance-Drama (Bharata Natyam) by the troupe Nrityashree (lead by Professor C V Chandrasekhar) and a play. Some 40 lucky delegates/accompanying persons will get the opportunity to play chess against the current World Champion Grandmaster Vishy Anand. There will be some public out-reach events also during the Congress. India, of course, is a wonderful tourist destination catering to every taste and interest.

One new feature of the Hyderabad Congress is that it will be preceded by a 2-day meeting styled "International Congress of Women Mathematicians" which will focus attention on women in mathematics. The initiative for holding this comes from the organization "European Women in Mathematics". This is the first meeting of its kind.

At Hyderabad, a new prize, the Chern Medal, named after S.S.Chern, a towering figure in geometry in the twentieth century, is to be awarded for the first time to an individual whose lifelong outstanding achievements in mathematics warrant the highest level of recognition.

The Executive Organising Committee (EOC) of ICM is aware of the importance of mathematics reaching out to the public. It would like to recognize outstanding efforts made in that direction in a fitting manner. Towards this end it has instituted a one-time international prize of 1,000,000/- (Indian) Rupees (approximately 20,000/- US Dollars) for outstanding contribution to public outreach for mathematics by an individual. The prize is to be announced and awarded at ICM in Hyderabad, India.

B) Some practical information
The last date for registration at the "early bird" rate of Rs. 16,000 has been extended to May 31 midnight (Indian Standard Time = GMT+0530). If you register after this date but before July 15, you will have to pay Rs. 18,000.

A refund of the registration fee, less 15% of the fee paid, may be obtained on cancellation if the same is effected before July 15.

The registration charges will be Rs. 22,000 after July 15 (please see the table at No refunds will be admissible after July 15.

Note that presentations of Posters/Short Communications will be allowed only for those who have registered by May 15 (and made their submissions by the last date given for the same).

For more, see:

The Executive Organising Committee

Abel Prize 2010

The American mathematician John Torrence Tate, University of Texas at Austin, has received the 2010 Abel Prize from His Majesty King Harald at an award ceremony in Oslo, Norway, 25 May 2010. The Abel Prize carries a cash award of NOK 6,000,000 (close to € 730,000 or US$ 1 mill.) is awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

Shaw Prize

On May 27, the 2010 Shaw Prizes have been announced. The Prize in Mathematical Sciences was awarded to Jean Bourgain, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, USA for his profound work in mathematical analysis and its application to partial differential equations, mathematical physics, combinatorics, number theory, ergodic theory and theoretical computer science.

A book on ICM's

"Mathematicians of the World Unite! The International Congress of Mathematicians–A Human Endeavor"
Guillermo P. Curbera
AK Peters, 2009

This book contains valuable information about all the international congresses that have taken place so far.

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