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IMU-Net 17: May 2006

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


We are looking forward with joy to the forthcoming International Congress of Mathematicians 2006 (ICM2006) in Madrid. The ICM has been recognized as the most important mathematical festival by mathematicians from all over the world, who present their major mathematical achievements carried out in all subfields and in different regions of the world. In my experience at ICM2002, the ICM is also an important opportunity to highlight the beauty, influence, and power of mathematics to the whole of society, which in turn has a big impact on the further development of mathematics. Mathematics is both an independent discipline valued for precision and intrinsic beauty, and a rich source of tools for application in other disciplines. The highly abstract languages, structures, methods and ideas created by mathematicians have been time and again proven to be universal instruments useful to other fields of science and technology and to commercial and social practices. This reflects the marvellous and close relation between mathematical theories and the objective world. In our time science and technology have experienced extraordinary developments that no-one could have dreamed of in previous generations, such as the exploration of outer space, the use of nuclear energy, the invention of the computer with the rapid development of internet and information technology, and the advent of biological engineering. All these reveal that human beings are striding forward towards an unprecedented epoch in which the progress of society depends more and more on scientific and technical innovation, and among all such innovative activities the innovation of mathematical knowledge is indispensable and fundamental. It is well known that mathematics has played indispensable roles in making computers, in developing both space and energy programs, and in investigating the structure of the DNA molecule. Mathematical methods are widely used even in economics, finance, medicine, agriculture, architecture, art areas, and so on. Mathematics has been respected as the queen of the sciences, and now we might say that mathematics is as well the basis of high technology, and, in a certain sense, a symbol of modern civilization.

Zhi-Ming Ma
Member of the Executive Committee of IMU

ICM 2006

The ICM2006 Madrid has launched a weekly bulletin containing information about the congress: interviews with speakers, novelties in mathematical research, explanation of the content of the different sections and more. The bulletin is published electronically in English and Spanish.

You can find it in the

IMU on the Web

Choosing Someone Else To Publish Your Journal How is a small academic journal to survive? The only way may well seem to be to ask a professional publisher to provide valuable marketing and essential bundling. The CEIC offers brief but useful advice to Society Councils and Editorial Teams at

e-Gripe of the Month: This first complaint is pre-e. I say: It can only be mindlessness that leads many of us to prepare our overheads in letter rather than landscape mode. Click as above for more.

e-Comment of the Month: Impatient audience member to speaker still fiddling with her computer: Are you just giving a powerpoint presentation; or do you have something worthwhile to say?

Alf van der Poorten (, member of the CEIC.

News from DCSG

Among its most recent initiatives, the Developing Countries Strategy Group, together with the African Mathematics Millennium Science Initiative (AMMSI) and the London Mathematical Society, submitted applications to two of the United Kingdom's premier foundations, the Nuffield Foundation and the Leverhulme Trust. Both of these applications have had successful outcomes. The Nuffield Foundation awarded a GBP 105,000 grant for a two-year pilot project to support mathematics and its teaching in the Anglophone countries of sub-Saharan Africa. Work under this grant is now in the initial stage of partnering mentors in the U.K. with institutions in Anglophone sub-Saharan Africa. With respect to the second application, in which the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (Edinburgh, U.K.) also joined, the Leverhulme Trust awarded a GBP 150,000 grant for a three-year international programme in support of mathematics in sub-Saharan Africa, to commence later this year.

The first project focuses on mentoring partnerships between individual mathematicians in the UK and mathematics centres in Anglophone sub-Saharan Africa. The second has the coordinated aim of nurturing the next generation of African mathematicians and mathematical leadership in situ, focusing particularly on building the community of postgraduate students and young researchers. Both aim to combat the mathematics "brain drain" of mathematical talent from sub-Saharan Africa by increasing the relative attractiveness of contributing one's mathematical expertise at home rather than moving permanently to the developed world. Building and maintaining bridges of shared research interests with individual and centres in the developed world is seen as an essential part of sustaining the community of postgraduate students and young researchers in Africa. In turn, sustaining the region's mathematical infrastructure is seen as essential to education and economic development.

In other news, IMU recently received a second major grant from the Niels Henrik Abel Memorial Fund towards its activities in sustaining and promoting mathematics and mathematicians in developing countries. These latter funds, besides supporting mathematics and mathematics education in Africa, are being employed inter alia to support the project of CIMPA-ICPAM (Nice, France) to rebuild the mathematical infrastructure in Cambodia, in cooperation with Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia.

ICMI awards: The 2005 Felix Klein and Hans Freudenthal Medals

The Felix Klein and Hans Freudenthal Medals are the two awards created by the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI), for recognizing outstanding achievement in mathematics education research. The Felix Klein Medal, named for the first president of ICMI (1908-1920), honors a lifetime achievement. The Hans Freudenthal Medal, named for the eight president of ICMI (1967-1970), recognizes a major cumulative program of research. The awards represent the judgment of an (anonymous) jury of distinguished scholars of international stature, chaired by Professor Michèle Artigue of the University Paris 7.

ICMI is proud to announce the second awardees of the Klein and Freudenthal Medals. The Felix Klein Medal for 2005 is awarded to Ubiratan D'Ambrosio, Emeritus Professor at UNICAMP, in Brasil. This distinction acknowledges the role Ubiratan D'Ambrosio has played in the development of mathematics education as a field of research and development throughout the world, above all in Latin America. It also recognises Ubiratan D'Ambrosio's pioneering role in the development of research perspectives which are sensitive to the characteristics of social, cultural, and historical contexts in which the teaching and learning of mathematics take place, as well as his insistence on providing quality mathematics education to all, not just to a privileged segment of society.

The Hans Freudenthal Medal for 2005 is awarded to Paul Cobb, Professor at Vanderbilt University, in the US. This distinction acknowledges his outstanding contribution to mathematics education: a rare combination of theoretical developments, empirical research and practical applications, which has had a major influence on the mathematics education community and beyond.
Citations of the work of these medalists can be found below. Presentation of the medals, and invited addresses of the medalists, will occur at
ICME-11 in Monterrey, July 2008.
Recipient of previous ICMI Awards:
2003 Felix Klein Medall : Professor Guy Brousseau
2003 Hans Freudenthal Medal : Professor Celia Hoyles

EMS article competition

The European Mathematical Society, through its committee for Raising Public Awareness of Mathematics (RPA), has recently run a competition for articles that have appeared in a newspaper, or some similar general magazine, in the home country of the author. The 2006 winners are:

Professor Nuno Crato, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Portugal. For a three-part article Cibersegredos invioláveis (Unbreakable ciber- secrets), published in the Portuguese weekly newspaper Expresso, on 8, 22, 29 September 2001.
The prize winning articles by Crato can be found in Portuguese and English at:

Professor F. Thomas Bruss, Dpt. de Mathématiques, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. For the article Der Ungewissheit ein Schnippchen schlagen (Playing a Trick on Uncertainty), published in the magazine Spektrum der Wissenschaft, 6 June 2000, and a similar article in the daily German newspaper Die Welt, 17 May 2001.
The prize winning article by Bruss can be found in German and English under "Publications" at:

Professors Sava Grozdev, Ivan Derzhanski and Evgenia Sendova, Union of Bulgarian Mathematicians, Sofia, Bulgaria.
For the article For those who think mathematics dreary, published in the Bulgarian daily newspaper Dnevnik, 27 December 2001.
The prize winning article by Grozdev, Derzhanski and Sendova can be found in Bulgarian and English at:

News from UMALCA - Latin American Mathematical Union's 10th Birthday

The Mathematical Union of Latin America and the Caribbean (UMALCA), an affiliated member of the IMU, has turned 10 years old. The celebrations took place at the 14th Latin American School of Mathematics, held in Montevideo, Uruguay last December. On the occasion, the President of UMALCA, José Antonio de la Peña (Mexico), awarded Mario Wschebor (Uruguay), Roberto Markarian (Uruguay), and Jacob Palis (Brazil) the Union's Medal, for their outstanding contributions as first President, Secretary General, and Scientific Coordinator, respectively. The celebrations also included round table discussions on the perspectives for mathematical research and education across the continent.
UMALCA was founded in Rio de Janeiro in 1995, with the mission to foster the development of Mathematics across Latin America, by sponsoring scientific meetings, promoting the exchange of graduate students and researchers, and contributing to improve teaching and research conditions in the region. It is formed by the national mathematical societies of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela, each holding one vote in the General Assembly. Rules and procedures for admission of new members are defined in the statutes (see the official web site The annual fees of the members constitute the main source of funding for its activities, but generous support has been obtained also from CDE/IMU, CIMPA, ICIAM, ICTP, UNESCO, and various latin american research agencies.
Since its inception, UMALCA has been active in promoting the exchange of talented young researchers within Latin America. Calls for travel grant applications are issued three times a year. Applicants selected by the Scientific Council have their travel expenses to carry out scientific research or attend a meeting in another country in the region covered by the Union. This program is greatly contributing to enhancing scientific collaboration between Latin American research groups.
The Latin American Congress of Mathematicians, organized by UMALCA every fourth year, is the main scientific meeting in Mathematics in the whole region. It includes plenary lectures and parallel sessions, as well as mini-courses, at the very highest level. The first two Congresses took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2000), and Cancun, Mexico (2004), and the next one will be held in Chile in 2008. The Union also took upon itself the organization of the Latin American School of Mathematics, a traditional event in the region that is now held on a regular basis every third year. The most recent Schools, in Lima, Peru (1999), Cartagena, Colombia (2002), and Montevideo, Uruguay (2005), focussed on such topics as Algebraic Geometry, Dynamical Systems, Partial Differential Equations, and Probability and Stochastic Processes.
Just as important, the Union also organizes more elementary mathematical schools, the EMALCAs, designed to attract talented students from the least developed countries to graduate studies and a research career. Since 2001, schools have been organized every year, alternately in Mexico and in Venezuela, targeting students in Central America and the Caribbean. Starting from 2004, this initiative was greatly expanded to enhance its regional reach by having smaller schools organized in other countries as well: Bolivia, Cuba, Costa Rica, Paraguay and, soon, Nicaragua and Ecuador. Recently, UMALCA joined efforts with the European Mathematical Society (EMS) and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), in organizing the first International Congress on the Applications of Mathematics. The ICAM took place in Santiago de Chile, 13-17 March 2006, and was a great success, attended by more than 200 scientists and doctoral students from all over the world. Conversations for the organization of ICAM 2010 have just started.

Marcelo Viana
Scientific Coordinator of UMALCA
IMPA, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Abel Prize awarded

On May 23, the Queen of Norway presented the Abel Prize for 2006 to the Swedish mathematician Lennart Carleson. Carleson presented his Abel lecture on May 24, followed by lectures by Lai-Sang Young, Oded Schramm, and Sun-Yung Alice Chang.

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