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IMU-Net 20: November 2006

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


Dear Reader,

The end of an eventful year for mathematics approaches, a year which has seen the very successful International Congress of Mathematicians in Madrid, together with the extraordinary mathematical story, that touched people worldwide, of Grigori Perelman and the Poincaré conjecture.

To all those who worked to make the ICM such a great occasion - and anyone who has organized a big event will know that the work does not stop when the last participant says goodbye - the world of mathematics owes an enormous debt of gratitude. Everyone, from His Majesty King Juan Carlos to the student helpers, played their part admirably, and one should not forget the families who supported those who worked long hours to bring the Congress into being.

I myself owe much to those who have advised and sustained me as President of IMU over the last four years. The IMU Executive Committee has been terrific, and I thank especially for their dedicated service those who will soon leave it - Jacob Palis, Phillip Griffiths, Jean-Michel Bismut, Masaki Kashiwara and M.S. Raghunathan. Linda Geraci has been splendid as IMU Administrator, and the IMU accountant Linda Lee has provided valuable financial advice. I am also especially grateful to Herb Clemens, who has been a wise pilot through the often uncharted waters of promoting mathematics in developing countries. Last, but certainly not least, my own family has been a constant support despite a substantial work-load and long absences due to foreign travel.

I was particularly happy that one of my last duties was to travel to Japan to present the first Carl Friedrich Gauss Medal to Professor Kiyosi Itô, who on account of his advanced age could not come to Madrid to receive the award. His work, conceived in terms of mathematical structure, but having profound implications for the world in which we live, epitomises for me the irrationality of drawing an artificial distinction between pure and applied mathematics. Professor Itô has generously donated his prize money to IMU in support of young mathematicians (see here).

To the new IMU President László Lovász, the incoming IMU Executive Committee, and all those who now begin to organize ICM 2010 in Hyderabad, I wish every success for their important work for our community.

With my best wishes to all IMU-Net subscribers,

John Ball

IMU on the Web


Mathematical research depends on a body of research literature that has reliable content and assured persistence.

In its 2004 Best Practice Statement
<> the CEIC warned that online publication can lead to severe problems in citation, because the posted paper can be updated continuously until it bears little resemblance to the original ... .

The arXiv has long understood this issue; note its careful policy <>.

Math Reviews summarises principles adopted by the AMS at <>, warning in particular that "if a journal currently indexed by Mathematical Reviews does not adopt these best practice standards, coverage of that journal will cease and the editors of the journal will be informed. Coverage will be resumed only when the journal agrees to these basic standards of scholarship."

Measuring Mathematicians and Measuring Journals

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted" is the wise remark opening John Ewing's recent article 'Measuring Journals', Notices Amer. Math. Soc. October 2006, Volume 53 , Number 9. The CEIC will discuss impact factors and citation metrics at its forthcoming meeting. In the meantime readers might study John's fine article

<> and consider innovations at MathSciNet, <> and /searchjournalcitations.html> [subscription required] providing author and journal citation counts.

Baseball and Quantum Physics
Umpire: "Some is balls and some is strikes, but until I calls 'em they ain't nothing."

Alf van der Poorten (, member of the CEIC.

News from the Developing Countries Strategy Goup (DCSG)

IMU has received its third major grant from the Niels Henrik Abel Memorial Fund towards its 2006 activities in sustaining and promoting mathematics and mathematicians in developing countries. In addition to enabling us to continue our efforts in supporting mathematics and mathematics education in Africa, this grant makes it possible for us to lay the groundwork for longer-term collaboration with CIMPA and ICMI in Indo-China projects. This work necessarily involves both mathematics research and mathematics education because of the vastly different situation of mathematics in the countries involved. A current activity supported by DCSG is the participation of teachers from Cambodia and Thailand in ICMI's Study 17 Conference and Workshop taking place in Hanoi, Vietnam, during 3 - 12 December, intended to build bridges and enhance CIMPA's ongoing efforts to rebuild the mathematical infrastructure in Cambodia in cooperation with other countries in the Southeast Asia region.

Within the framework of our Nuffield project, three mentorships between UK mathematicians and mathematics departments in sub-Saharan Africa have recently been activated, one in Cameroon, one in Ethiopia and one in Ghana. A second round of calls for expressions of interest in mentorships, within the framework of both our Nuffield and Leverhulme projects, is currently being prepared. In the same spirit as these projects, the U.S. National Committee on Mathematics is supporting a senior U.S. mathematician to do visiting lectureships and mentoring visits to Benin and to Senegal in early 2007. This activity is again being coordinated through DCSG.

In August, the IMU General Assembly indicated its approval for the expansion of IMU's work in the developing world which has occurred over the last four years. It endorsed a proposal to the incoming IMU Executive Committee to merge DCSG and IMU's historical Commission on Development and Exchanges into a single body, to be called the IMU Commission for Developing Countries (CDC). CDE would be reconstituted as a committee within the Commission for Developing Countries, called the Grants Committee, and would carry out its traditional programs of support for individual research travel and conferences in developing countries within the framework of the new CDC's overall goals and activities.

ICIAM 2007 and ICIAM Prizes

The Sixth International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics, ICIAM 2007, will be held in Zurich, Switzerland from 16-20 July 2007. It will take place at the two adjacent central campuses of ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich.
15 January 2007 is the deadline for early-bird registration.

Professor Ian Sloan, President of the International Council for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM) had announced on 18 September 2006 the winners of the five ICIAM prizes which will be presented at the ICIAM 2007 Congress in Zürich, Switzerland (16-20 July 2007).

The prize winners are:

ICIAM Pioneer Prize
awarded jointly to Ingrid Daubechies (Princeton University, USA) and Heinz Engl (Johannes Kepler Universität Linz, Austria).

ICIAM Collatz Prize
awarded to Felix Otto (Universität Bonn, Germany).

ICIAM Lagrange Prize
awarded to Joseph Keller (Stanford University, USA).

ICIAM Maxwell Prize
awarded to Peter Deuflhard (Zuse Institute Berlin, Germany).

ICIAM Su Buchin Prize
awarded to Gilbert Strang (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA).

Ramanujan Prize

Indian mathematician to receive the $ 10.000 Ramanujan Prize

Ramdorai Sujatha (44), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, India, will receive the Ramanujan Prize for 2006.

The Ramanujan Prize was established at International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy, to honour young mathematicians who have conducted outstanding research in developing countries.

The award ceremony will take place on the 18th of December at the ICTP in Trieste. The prize will be presented by this year's Abel Laureate, Lennart Carleson.

The Ramanujan Prize is supported by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters through the Abel Fund, with the cooperation of the International Mathematical Union.

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Previous issues can be seen here.