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IMU-Net 2: November 2003

A Bimonthly Email Newsletter from the International Mathematical Union
Editor: Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel, Universit&eacute René Descartes, Paris, France

Letter from the President

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the second issue of IMU-Net, the electronic newsletter of the International Mathematical Union.

IMU is very pleased with the positive reaction to the first issue, and that a large number of mathematicians have chosen to subscribe to IMU-Net. This is the last issue to be sent to the current mailing list. So if you wish to receive further issues, which are free of charge, and if you have not already subscribed, you must do so by one of the methods described below.

IMU represents you. IMU-Net is designed to make that representation more effective, by informing you about what IMU is doing on your behalf, and providing information about current initiatives that will enable you in turn to influence IMU.

I very much hope that you will become a regular reader.

John Ball

President, International Mathematical Union.

ICM 2006: preregistration is open

The next International Congress of Mathematicians, ICM2006, will be held at the Palacio Municipal de Congresos de Madrid (Madrid City Hall Convention Center) Madrid, Spain, 22-30 August 2006.

Andrey Andreevich Bolibruch

IMU is deeply saddened by the death on 11 November 2003 of Academician Andrey Andreevich Bolibruch, of the Steklov Institute (Moscow, Russia), who was a member of the IMU Executive Committee

Academician D. Anosov writes:

Andrey Andreevich Bolibruch was born in Moscow on 30 January 1950. He graduated from the Moscow State University in 1975. Since 1990 his main workplace has been the Steklov Mathematical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow; but from 1996 he was also a Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Mechanics of Moscow State University, and in 1999 he became an Honorary Professor there.

A crucial moment in his mathematical career came at the end of the 80's, when he discovered that Hilbert's 21st problem (concerning a certain class of linear ordinary differential equations in the complex domain) generally has a negative solution. This was an unexpected and brilliant achievement. For a long time people were convinced that at the beginning of the 20th century Plemelj had obtained a positive solution to this problem by reducing it to another of his results. Several years before Bolibruch's proof, it was discovered that, although this other result is correct, the reduction does not always work. However, people continued to hope that the answer to the 21st problem was positive. Thus Bolibruch's result was unexpected and made a strong impression.

After this, Bolibruch's scientific work was related to this problem in one way or another. He also studied its connections to other problems, e.g., to the problem of isomonodromy deformations, which became important at that time for other reasons. He wrote about 70 articles and several books.

In 1994 Bolibruch was elected a deputy member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and, in 1997, a full member. In 1995 he was awarded the Lyapounov prize of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and in 2001 a State prize from the Russian Federation (for the cycle of works "Differential equations with meromorphic coefficients"). Besides his scientific work, in the last period of his life Bolibruch turned out to be a prominent organizer. From 1996 he was a Deputy Director of the Steklov Mathematical Institute, then (retaining this position) he became the head of the mathematical subdivision of the Division of Mathematical Sciences of the Russian Academy of Science, Vice-chairman of the Moscow Mathematical Society, and a member of the Scientific Council of the International Banach Mathematical Center. In 2002 he was elected a member of the Executive Committee of the IMU. In 2003 he was awarded the prize of the Charity foundation for the promotion of the native natural and humanitary sciences, nomination "Prominent scientists". It is difficult to overestimate his role in the organization of scientific work in Russia and international collaboration in mathematics.

He participated at many international conferences, often as an invited plenary lecturer, and he always used the opportunity to meet his western colleagues and broaden the international connections concerning not only the fields where he worked himself, but other fields as well. His position, organizing capabilities, and experience allowed him to play an important role in organizing international conferences in Russia.

Besides mathematics, Bolibruch had other interests: literature, painting, theater. It is difficult to convey the warmth of his personality, which earned him many friends all over the world. He was married and had two children, a son and a daughter. He was a loving and devoted husband and father.

Being seriously ill and knowing that there was no guarantee of recovery (although hoping that the possibility was not excluded), he was still trying to play a useful role. He was working on his last mathematical paper, taking part in the supervision of the Steklov Institute and other organizations, writing memoirs on his life, and advising his students. His death is a terrible shock, not only to his relatives but to his friends in many countries. It is a great loss for mathematics and for Russia.

Personal homepages and an electronic version of the World Directory of Mathematicians

After the discontinuation of the WDM was announced in IMU-Net 1 a number of colleagues asked whether it would be possible to establish an electronic version of WDM. The IMU Committee on Electronic Information and Communication (CEIC, see has attended to this request and investigated the possibilities.

Due to the limited financial means of the IMU there is no way to set up and maintain a central registry such as the combined membership list of AMS/MAA/SIAM/etc., see

It seems feasible, though, to keep a central list - based on distributed input and voluntary contributions. CEIC proposes to give this idea a try and start with a basic version of an Electronic World Directory of Mathematicians (EWDM).

The CEIC would like to couple this suggestion with the request to every mathematician to offer a personal homepage on the Web. With respect to the contents and structure of such a personal homepage CEIC proposes the design of a standardized personal homepage for mathematicians, to be called the Mathematician's Professional Homepage (MPH), that contains personal mathematical information in an organized fashion - just as the Math-Net Page is designed to display institutional mathematical information in a structured way. The design comes in two versions, a simple design and a more elaborate one.

The plea to offer and maintain a structured personal webpage should not be interpreted as a bureaucratic dampening of individual style. Reasons why structured webpages are desirable can be found at

The Personal Homepage Call

IMU asks every mathematician to set up and maintain a personal homepage. IMU requests that this homepage is presented in a userfriendly way, and suggests a structure along the lines of the Mathematician's Professional Homepage (MPH).

The Electronic World Directory of Mathematicians

Call IMU plans to set up and maintain an Electronic World Directory of Mathematicians (EWDM). Every mathematician who has a homepage is asked to register the homepage through the EWDM registration mechanism, see

For detailed information on these suggestions click on

Please follow these calls!

Mathematics Journals Prices

Ulf Rehmann from Bielefeld (Germany) writes:

We have a paradoxical situation: It has never been so cheap, easy and convenient to publish mathematics as it is today, thanks to the Internet, TeX, and computers, but mathematics publications have never been more expensive than today. Mathematics departments suffer, because they cannot afford to buy the journals they used to buy.

If you are concerned with the everlasting question concerning mathematics journals and their pricings, you might find it helpful to look at the following tables:

These journal price tables reflect the prices for 276 mathematics journals including their changes during the last 9 years. The tables have been compiled from information that was collected directly from the journal publishers by the American Mathematical Society. In order to make price changes more transparent, the tables have been evaluated and ordered under certain headings such as changes of the price per volume, the price per page etc. Some of these changes are stunning.

Ulf Rehmann (Bielefeld, Germany).

World Year of Physics 2005

For nearly two years, the European Physical Society (EPS) has been engaged in making 2005 the World Year of Physics (WYP), getting support of international organisations for its realisation and success. This initiative was endorsed by the council of EPS and its member societies in 2001. It is also backed by UNESCO.

The main purpose of the WYP is to raise world-wide public awareness of physics and, more generally, of physical sciences.

The perception of physics and its importance in our daily life has decreased in the eyes of the general public to such a low level that the number of physics students in high schools and universities has dramatically declined over the past few years. In order to address this problem, it is important that Physics Societies all over the world become more active in sharing their visions and convictions about physics with politicians and the public in general. The illustration of physics, physical sciences, and their achievements, must be a major axis of the WYP, and should be the object of numerous and multiform activities aimed at raising the interest of the general public: radio and television programmes, articles in newspapers and specialised magazines, books, action in schools and universities, general colloquia on physical sciences and the physical view of the world, local and itinerant exhibits, action in the street, posters, stamps, advertising in mass transport systems, etc.

Some joint actions between physicists and mathematicians are already planned for this World Year

Subscribing to IMU-Net

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Previous issues can be seen here.