Skip to main content

IMU-Net 21: January 2007

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


Dear Reader,

The General Assembly in Santiago elected new officers of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), and the new leadership took office January 1, 2007.
In the name of all the new officers, it is my pleasure to welcome you to this new issue of IMU-Net, the electronic newsletter of the IMU.

We hope you will find this newsletter as a very useful tool supporting communication between the officers of the IMU and the mathematical community worldwide.
You'll find information about decisions of the General Assembly and various committees, on major international mathematical events, and many other issues of mutual interest. The leadership, in return, hopes to get recommendations and other feedback from readers and member societies.

I take this opportunity to thank those officers who are retiring, and also those who agreed to serve another term, for their invaluable service to our community. In particular, I wish to thank John Ball for his tremendous work as President, and Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel, for her continuing work as the Editor of this newsletter.

Please subscribe to IMU-net, following the instructions described below. This is free of charge, but necessary in order to receive further issues.

Laszlo Lovasz
International Mathematical Union

News from IMU

New IMU Executive Committee, new IMU office

At the beginning of 2007 a new IMU executive committee has started its four years term. The IMU EC 2007 - 2010 elected at the General Assembly at Santiago de Compostela has the following members:

President: László Lovász (Hungary)
Secretary: Martin Grötschel (Germany)
Vice Presidents: Zhi-Ming Ma (China), Claudio Procesi (Italy)
Members at Large:
M. Salah Baouendi (USA)
Manuel de León (Spain)
Ragni Piene (Norway)
Cheryl E. Praeger (Australia)
Victor A. Vassiliev (Russia)
Marcelo Viana (Brazil)
Ex Officio:
John M. Ball, Past President (United Kingdom)

With the change of the secretary, the IMU office has moved from Princeton to Berlin. The new IMU office address is:

International Mathematical Union
Office of the Secretariat
Zuse Institute Berlin
Takustr. 7
D-14195 Berlin
Fax: +49 30 84185 - 269

IMU on the Web

Cost and quantity

Found a new product you really like? Well you had better buy it, and tell your friends to buy it too; and to tell their friends. If it has only a few sales it'll disappear. And even if it survives as a niche product, it certainly will not be able to do that at just its introductory price.

Exactly this principle applies, with bells on, to a new journal of which you truly approve. Tell your library, and tell your friends to tell their libraries. The more subscriptions a journal obtains, and holds to, the cheaper it can continue to be. And, in the case of a new journal, put your money where your mouth is and, pour encourager les autres, submit your best work to it.

These remarks are not quite unprovoked. Google the Wikipedia entry "Topology (Journal)" and read the 'diatribe' at IMU on the Web #18.

Don't send that email!

Email is great for asking a straightforward question, and all the better for answering it with a "yes", or a "no". It's a miserably bad medium for conveying a nuanced complicated message because writers tend not to reread or edit the message they're about to send and readers often do little more than briefly scan their mail. My CEIC colleague Jon Borwein writes in extenso about the benefits dangers of 'immediate text modalities' (ITMs) at IMU on the Web #18.

Alf van der Poorten (
Member of the CEIC.

The ICM through history

At the ICM in Madrid last year, there was an exhibition, curated by Guillermo Curbera, on the history of the ICMs. Parts of this exhibit is now available at the web site

News from ICMI

What we know today as ICMI (International Commission on Mathematical Instruction) was initially a Commission founded in 1908 at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Rome with Felix Klein as President. Its first aim was to compare the methods and plans of teaching mathematics in different countries. This initiative met with a great success.
From that time its missions have progressively enlarged and today its ambitio is to provide an international forum for the study and improvement of mathematics education around the world, a space for reflection, exchange and collaboration, for the dissemination of ideas and results, to all those professionally concerned by mathematics education: teachers, teacher educators, curriculum developers, scholars, mathematicians, administrators, policy-makers. Beyond the International Congresses in Mathematics Education (ICME) organized every four years, ICMI tries to achieve this ambition through different activities:

  • ICMI Studies, Regional Conferences, Solidarity Fund activities, through the support it offers to different projects in collaboration with IMU, UNESCO and other institutions, and last but not least through the activities of its five Affiliated Study Groups :
  • The International Study Group on the Relations between the History and Pedagogy of Mathematics (HPM)
  • The International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME)
  • The International Organization of Women and Mathematics Education (IOWME)
  • The World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions(WFME)
  • The International Study Group for Mathematical Modelling and Applications (ICTMA).

For more information on ICMI activities, see:

Even if ICMI is a sub-commission of IMU, the collaboration between the two institutions has not always been very intense. Since 1998, the situation has seriously improved, due to the action of the two Executive Committees, and of their respective Presidents: Hyman Bass for ICMI, Jacob Palis and then John Ball for IMU. The first joint ICMI-IMU Study, called The Pipeline Study, whose aim is to study the number of students choosing to do mathematics at university level in various countries and how this has changed over the last 10 or 20 years, is now starting. Within the frame of the DCSG (Developing Country Strategy Group) of IMU, we have begun to coordinate our respective actions towards the developing world in Africa, and now in South East Asia, in collaboration also with the CIMPA (International Centre for Pure and Applied Mathematics). We have jointly supported the international exhibition "Experiencing Mathematics" realized under the auspices of UNESCO and its one year travel in Southern Africa in 2006. We are jointly planning for the future regional seminars in developing countries involving activities directed to mathematicians, mathematics teachers and mathematics educators. I enter thus the Presidency of ICMI at a time when new avenues open, hoping that, thanks to this increasing collaboration, ICMI and IMU will be able to find new and better solutions to the many and difficult problems that mathematics education and the preparation of teachers face all over the world.
Being elected as the President of ICMI is an immense honour and also a huge responsibility, but seeing what has been accomplished up to now makes me confident for the future, and I hope that during my mandate, the members of the mathematics community will contribute more and more to ICMI activities, all over the world.

Michèle Artigue,
President of ICMI

Pan African Congress of Mathematicians (7th PACOM, 2008)

First Announcement and call for paper (7th PACOM, 2008)

The African Mathematical Union(AMU) in cooperation with the Egypt Academy of Scientific Research & Technology (ASRT) announces the seventh Pan African Congress of Mathematicians.
Theme: Mathematical Sciences Developments and Trends
Date: 27-31 August 2008
Venue: Teba Rose Hotel, Heleopolis, Cairo (Egypt)

2007 Wolf Prizes in Mathematics and Physics

The 2006/7 Wolf Prize in Mathematics will be jointly awarded to:

Stephen J. Smale (University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA) for his groundbreaking contributions that have played a fundamental role in shaping differential topology, dynamical systems, mathematical economics, and other subjects in mathematics and Harry Furstenberg (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel) for his profound contributions to ergodic theory, probability, topological dynamics, analysis on symmetric spaces and homogenous flows.

The 2007 Wolf Prize in Physics is shared by Professor Albert Fert (France) and Professor Peter Gruenberg (Germany), for their independent discovery of the giant magnetoresistance phenomenon, thereby launching a new field of research and applications known as spintronics, which utilizes the electron spin to store and transport information.

The Prize in each field will be presented by the President of the State of Israel at the Knesset (parliament) in Jerusalem, on 13 May 2007.

The Poincaré conjecture in the BBC news

Subscribing to IMU-Net

There are two ways of subscribing to IMU-Net:

  1. Click here with a Web browser and go to the "Subscribe" button to subscribe to IMU-Net online.
  2. Send an e-mail to with the Subject-line: Subject: subscribe


In both cases you will get an e-mail to confirm your subscription so that misuse will be minimized. IMU will not use the list of IMU-Net emails for any purpose other than sending IMU-Net, and will not make it available to others.

Previous issues can be seen here.