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IMU-Net 23: May 2007

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


Dear Reader,
We had our first meeting of the EC in Oslo and I can assure that it was "a lot of work". This is a sign that IMU is serving more and more the mathematical community. In fact for me this is the most important point, the fact that we "the mathematicians" act and feel as being members of a community and want to make a serious effort towards the goal of making this community really universal.

It was for me an element of pride to read that, after world war one, it was an Italian president of IMU, Salvatore Pincherle, who insisted on inviting to the 1928 ICM mathematicians from the countries who had lost the war: the "enemies".
This created a clash inside IMU and we all know how tragic it was the inability to bring back those countries into the international community at that time. We needed another terrible war to start to understand how to cooperate, at least in a part of the world. After the fall of the wall we have been able to knit the ties between the western and eastern European mathematicians and we face now the much harder task to integrate into our community mathematicians from countries which, for political, economic or even cultural reasons are isolated from us. We are small players in the world, with very limited financial resources but with great human resources and a universal language to offer. Our society, IMU, can serve as a reference point for the many organizations who work to build up mathematics in developing countries and, hopefully, also as a fund-raiser. Remember that we need all the help we can get.

Claudio Procesi
Vice President, IMU Executive Committee

Program Committee for ICM 2010 appointed

The IMU Executive Committee appointed the Program Committee (PC) for the International Congress of Mathematicians in Hyderabad, India, 19-27 August 2010 at its meeting in Oslo in May 2007. The names of the PC members will be kept secret until the congress, except for the PC chair.

The PC will soon start its work by defining the structure of the scientific program, e.g., the sections and their precise definition, the kind of lectures, their number, their purpose, and their arrangement, whether to have short communications and/or poster sessions. Although programs of previous ICMs will traditionally be used as rough guidelines, every ICM PC has come up with some innovations and changes. The PC chair Hendrik W. Lenstra invites suggestions for the ICM 2010 program. If you have good proposals please contact him by e-mail:

IMU on the Web

The Web, Math Encyclopedias, Peer Review

What to say? I had promised myself to write for you about ... but I haven't done the work and ... just now surfing a mathematical topic on the web I was sadly reminded of the ability of the web to present misguided material as if it were the advice of careful pundits. It is a truism that good writing means rewriting and rewriting again; somehow, that's not encouraged by the web. The unevenness of the quality of pages presented as parts of web math encyclopedias startles me; I don't think that was as true of their paper predecessors. I cannot help but believe that traditionally published material was much better moderated and edited; it also had the advantage, generally, of being commissioned from honest-to-goodness authorities.

A Great Stride Forward.
Yet, I also keep on being happily surprised by the web. Specifically, I happened to google the phrase "four squares in arithmetic progression" and was provided with a large collection of relevant sample pages from scanned books. I owned several of the books and was thus readily able to check a reference ... This new opportunity to search the full text of books is marvellous and adds significant value to any math book collection.

... more on these and related matters at

Alf van der Poorten, member of the CEIC

Abel Prize 2007 awarded

On 22 May 2007, the King of Norway presented the Abel Prize for 2007 to Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York.
S.S.R. Varadhan presented his Abel lecture on 23 May, followed by lectures by G. Papanicolaou, O. Zeitouni and T. Lyons.

Centennial of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction

First Century of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (1908-2008): Reflecting and Shaping the World of Mathematics Education,
Roma (Italy), 5-8 March 2008, Accademia dei Lincei and Istituto dell Enciclopedia Italiana.

More information :

If you are interested in participating in a working group, please contact one of its chairs. It will also possible to attend the symposium as a free participant, without making a presentation. In that case, apply to :
after September 2007.

Ferdinando Arzarello
Chair, International Program Committee

African Mathematical Union Commission on the History of Mathematics in Africa

Two new books are published by the African Mathematical Union Commission on the History of Mathematics in Africa:

  1. African Doctorates in Mathematics: A Catalogue.
    This volume presents a catalogue of over 2000 doctoral theses (in historical order since 1923) by Africans in all fields of mathematics, including applied mathematics, mathematics education and history of mathematics.
  2. Paulus Gerdes & Ahmed Djebbar: Mathematics in African History and Cultures: An annotated Bibliography. New edition.
    This volume constitutes an updated and extended version of the bibliography published under the same name in 2004 by the African Mathematical Union.

These books are available (both in print and as download) from by going to
The books (print) will also become soon available from and other retailers / bookshops.

The Electronic Newsletter of ICSU

The Electronic Newsletter of ICSU (International Council for Science) "ICSU Insight" provides some background information about ICSU. IMU is a member of ICSU.
If you are interested in receiving ICSU Insight by e-mail, register at

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Previous issues can be seen here.