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IMU-Net 4: March 2004

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

From the Editor

Dear Reader,

This issue contains some fresh news, as the two winners of this year's Abel Prize have just been announced.

We begin with this issue a regular column concerning electronic information and communication that is of general interest for IMU-Net readers. For each such contribution, the Committee on Electronic Information and Communication (CEIC) will provide an additional Web page that contains details concerning the issues discussed.

I hope you are interested in this initiative.

Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel
Editor

Abel Prize 2004

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has decided to award the Abel Prize for 2004, jointly to Sir Michael Francis Atiyah, University of Edinburgh (UK) and Isadore M. Singer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA).
Atiyah and Singer will receive the prize "for their discovery and proof of the index theorem, bringing together topology, geometry and analysis, and their outstanding role in building new bridges between mathematics and theoretical physics".

The Abel Prize Award ceremony will take place on 25 May 2005 at the University of Oslo Aula.
The Abel Prize, established by the Norwegian Goverment in 2002 and awarded annually, is an international prize for outstanding scientific work in the field of mathematics. The Prize carries a cash award of 6 million Norwegian kroner (about US $ 800,000).

http://www.abelprisen.no/en/

Preregistration for the ICM 2006 in Madrid continues open. Please preregister at the ICM web site http://www.icm2006.org in order to receive further news about the ICM.

Professor Noga Alon has been appointed chair of the ICM 2006 Program Committee. This Committee has already taken a decision on the sections to be covered, which can be checked at the ICM2006 web site. As in past Congresses there will also be short communications and Poster sessions.

Bids for ICM 2010

The closing date for receiving bids to host the 2010 International Congress of Mathematicians is 30 November 2004. Information concerning the bidding process can be found on the IMU webpages

IMU on the Web: what can you do about journal prices?

The IMU Committee on Electronic Information and Communication (CEIC) made a series of recommendations in its Best Practices document several years ago.

The advice was aimed at many groups -- mathematicians, librarians, and publishers -- and it covered many topics, ranging from versioning papers to archiving journals. The Best Practices document can be found at http://www.ceic.math.ca/Publications/Recommendations/3_best_practices.html

One of the recommendations (#8) concerned the problem of escalating journal prices. The specific advice was straight-forward: "When deciding where to submit a paper an author may choose to be aware of a journal's standing and impact, but an author also should take account of a journal's price .... In addition, one might consider a journal's price and policies when considering whether to referee or serve on an editorial board."

While this is straight-forward and sound advice, the consequences of specific actions may be complicated and controversial. For example, creating new journals with low prices may (temporarily) stretch library budgets even further. This is especially true if many of the library's journals are included in a bundle. Is it a good idea to increase the stress on the journals system by creating new journals? What can individual mathematicians do to effect real change? The CEIC recently added a Web page on Recommendation #8 with remarks that discuss the actions one can take to reduce journal prices. For all mathematicians, the most important action is to stay informed.

PACOM 2004

African Mathematical Union Congress in Tunis in September 2004

The Sixth Pan African Congress of Mathematicians of the African Mathematical Union will be held in Tunis from 1-6 September 2004. This Congress is being planned amidst an increasing push for economic and other developments in Africa. Thus, the theme for the Congress, viz., "Mathematical Sciences and the Development of Africa: Challenges for Building a Knowledge Society in Africa", is aimed to address some of these challenges. The quest for the construction of a knowledge society in Africa has never been stronger and more urgent. The advances in telecommunications technology are threatening to widen the digital divide between the developed and developing countries. Among the most critical dimensions of change are the convergent impacts of globalization, the increasing importance of knowledge as a main driver of growth, and the information and communication revolution.

In conceptualizing the theme three factors played a significant role. Firstly, we realize that there are factors, especially the continued removal of space and time barriers to information access and exchange, which favour the speeding up of the construction of a knowledge society in Africa. Secondly, collaboration has long become a key factor in the advancement of scientific, including mathematical, research and learning. Thirdly, rapid development in science requires the promotion of lifelong-learning practices necessary to update individual knowledge and skills. In all these factors tertiary education plays a pivotal role, including mathematical learning and research.

Two deliberate efforts have been included in the program to give effect to the three factors mentioned above. A special session will be held on "The role of electronic services for mathematical sciences in Africa as a way into the information society". A round table discussion will be organized to discuss cooperation with various mathematical societies and a special appeal is issued to African mathematicians in the Diaspora to attend and contribute to the Congress with a view of exploring ways in which collaboration can be enhanced.

Two deliberate efforts have been included in the program to give effect to the three factors mentioned above. A special session will be held on "The role of electronic services for mathematical sciences in Africa as a way into the information society". A round table discussion will be organized to discuss cooperation with various mathematical societies and a special appeal is issued to African mathematicians in the Diaspora to attend and contribute to the Congress with a view of exploring ways in which collaboration can be enhanced.

The African Mathematical Union can be viewed as having a kind of federal structure. Thus mathematical sciences associations or societies in African countries are members of the AMU. Though not framed as such, the African Mathematical Union can, further, be viewed as the 'African wing' of the International Mathematical Union. Over the years, African mathematicians have participated in a number of IMU congresses.

Further information on the September 2004 Congress can be obtained in different ways. The Congress address is
PACOM2004, C/o. Prof. Dr. A. Boukricha 
Université de Tunis El Manar 
B.P. 63, 1013 Tunis 
République Tunisienne 
the phoning number is +216 71 703 746 
the fax number is +21671 885 350 
They can also be reached by e-mail at Pacom@cck.rnu.tn 
The web site is found at http://www.cck.rnu.tn/pacom2004 
The deadline for submission of abstracts for all forms of presentations listed above is 30 May 2004.

International Commission on the History of Mathematics (ICHM)

The International Commission on the History of Mathematics is an inter-union commission joining the International Mathematical Union (IMU) and the Division of the History of Science (DHS) of the International Union for the History and Philosophy of Science (IUHPS). The ICHM is comprised of representatives of some fifty-five nations - those nations internationally in which the history of mathematics is taught and/or actively researched and is governed by a nine-person Executive Committee. The original Commission on the History of Mathematics (CHM) was founded in 1969 to consider the possibility of founding a specialized journal in the field. It met for the first time in 1970 at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Nice and was made a permanent institution - the ICHM - in 1971 at the Thirteenth International Congress on the History of Science in Moscow.

Its earliest history was thus intimately linked to the communities of both mathematicians and historians of science. The ICHM has these international aims: first, to encourage the study of the history of mathematics, and, second, to promote a high level of historically and mathematically sophisticated scholarship in the field. It works to realize these goals in a number of ways. Perhaps first and foremost, it oversees its official journal, Historia Mathematica. Founded as a result of the CHM and then ICHM initiative in 1974 by Kenneth O. May, Historia Mathematica publishes original research on the history of the mathematical sciences in all periods and in all cultural settings.

The ICHM also engages in a variety of special projects and regular activities to promote and encourage the history of mathematics. The most recent special project is the book, Writing the History of Mathematics: Its Historical Development, coedited by Joseph W. Dauben and Christoph Scriba and published in the fall of 2002 by Birkhäuser Verlag. This volume represents the combined efforts of several dozen historians of mathematics internationally and traces the history and methodology of the history of mathematics in different countries throughout the world. The book also contains appendices that provide invaluable and hard-to-obtain biographical information on key scholars of the history of mathematics in addition to exhaustive bibliographical information.

Among the ICHM's regular activities, four are of particular importance.

First, the ICHM sponsors or co-sponsors scientific symposia at the International Congresses of the History of Science, at meetings of national history of scienceand mathematics societies, and at other conferences. In the past two years it has co-sponsored (with the Institute for Mathematics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Institute for History of Natural Sciences (CAS)) an "International Colloquium for the History of Mathematics" at Northwest University in Xi'an, China, 15-18 August, 2002; (with the British Society for the History of Mathematics) a "Tercentenary Meeting in Honor of John Wallis" in October 2003 at Oxford University, United Kingdom; and (with the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America) a day-long series of lectures in the Special Session on the History of Mathematics in January 2004 in Phoenix, Arizona, United States.

Second, the ICHM awards, once every four years on the occasion of the International Congress on the History of Science, the Kenneth O. May Medal to historians of mathematics for outstanding contributions to the history of mathematics. The most recent recipients of the Kenneth O. May Medal - Ubiratan d'Ambrosio (Sao Paolo, Brazil) and Lam Lay Yong (Singapore) - were announced in Mexico City in August 2001. The next May Medallists will be announced in Beijing in 2005.

Third, the ICHM maintains a website at
http://www.math.uu.nl/ichm
which it hopes will come to serve the international community of historians of mathematics as a source of current information on upcoming conferences and symposia as well as on other information pertinent to members of the field. Fourth, the ICHM is creating a web-based World Directory of Historians of Mathematics in an effort better to link historians of mathematics around the world.

Karen Hunger Parshall, Chair
International Commission on the History of Mathematics

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