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IMU-Net 24: July 2007

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


Dear Reader,

The International Congress of Mathematicians will be held in India in 2010, about a century after Srinivasa Ramanujan, a young Indian with little formal mathematical training, sent his famous letters to G. H. Hardy in England. What a splendid opportunity to celebrate the universality of mathematics! ICM 2010 will be the third time the Congress has been held in Asia, and the second time in a developing country. The IMU has been striving to increase the participation of mathematical communities and mathematicians from around the world. Currently 68 countries are members of the IMU (out of about 190 member states of the United Nations). There are many countries, not yet IMU members, with substantial mathematical activities, whose participation in the IMU would be mutually beneficial. Others have written in previous issues of this Newsletter about IMU programs to strengthen mathematics and mathematics education in the developing world.

In order to encourage more developing countries to become IMU members, the IMU General Assembly, meeting in Santiago de Compostela in August 2006, voted to establish a new category of membership, that of Associate Member ( An organization of mathematicians in a developing country that has not been an IMU member may apply for Associate Membership for a period of up to eight years without paying dues. An Associate Member country may participate in many IMU activities, including sending a delegate to the General Assembly. More importantly, mathematicians from an Associate Member country will have the opportunity to interact with other mathematicians around the world and increase the visibility of their country in the mathematical community.

The list of current IMU members can be found here. I hope you, the reader, will encourage your mathematical contacts from nonmember countries to talk with their colleagues about joining the IMU. As Claudio Procesi wrote in the last Newsletter, we need all the help we can get!

It is a great privilege for me to serve on the Executive Committee of the IMU, and I am grateful for the opportunity to write this editorial.

M. Salah Baouendi Member,
IMU Executive Committee

Committee on "Quantitative Assessment of Research"

ICIAM/IMS/IMU set up a joint Committee on "Quantitative Assessment of Research"

The International Council of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM), the Institute of Mathematics and Statistics (IMS), and the International Mathematical Union (IMU) have formed a Committee of "Quantitative Assessment of Research" that will investigate various aspects of the quantitative assessment of research in mathematics. The Committee will, in particular, look into impact factors and similar ways to measure research output.

The Committee consists of:

  • Robert Adler (Haifa, Israel), appointed by IMS
  • Peter Taylor (Melbourne, Australia), appointed by ICIAM
  • John Ewing (Providence, USA), appointed by IMU

The Committee is expected to create a summary of its findings to be endorsed by the Executive Committees of ICIAM, IMS, and IMU and to be published afterwards.

ICIAM, IMS, and IMU have formulated an aspirational charge to help set direction rather than prescribe the final outcome of the committee's work, see

IMU on the Web

Spanish Digital Mathematics Library, Vlib MATH, Beyond Escher, Impact, and ...

Our colleagues in Spain launch a beautiful website displaying their digitisations of a wide collection of major journals. The DML-E project offers full-text access to all articles published from 1980 ... Because the journals are commercial publications, their editors apply a moving wall policy: meaning that universal access is allowed to the full-text articles except for those of very recent publication. For articles behind the moving wall (generally those published in the past year), only abstracts are accessible unless the user has a subscription to that journal.

Katharina Habermann reports development of the Virtual Library of Mathematics of the SUB Goettingen, a portal which will offer search of and access to link-collections, library catalogs, journals, other databases, and customised search engines allowing Google to give greater relevance weight to mathematical sites.

I point to a site of interest to Escher enthusiasts, note the phenomenon of a publisher of science fiction offering its readers free access to its back list, and qualify remarks I made at the end of May.

The drive towards more transparency and accountability in the academic world has created a "culture of numbers" in which institutions and individuals believe that fair decisions can be reached by algorithmic evaluation of some statistical data; unable to measure quality (the ultimate goal), decision-makers replace quality by numbers that they can measure. This trend calls for comment from those who professionally "deal" with numbers --- mathematicians and statisticians. A small group jointly appointed by the IMU, ICIAM, and the IMS is preparing suitable such "comment".

... find relevant URLs and more on these matters at

Alf van der Poorten, member of the CEIC

News from ICMI

Information concerning the Eleventh International Congress on Mathematics Education (ICME-11) in Monterrey, Mexico (6-13 July 2008).

The International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI) has created two awards in mathematics education research :

  • the Hans Freudenthal Award, for a major programme of research on mathematics education
  • the Felix Klein Award, for lifelong achievement in mathematics education research

An ICMI Awards Committee has been appointed. The President of ICMI has appointed professor Mogens Niss (Denmark) to chair this committee, the other members of which are anonymous until their terms have come to an end.

The two 2005 awards went to Professors Ubiratan D'Ambrosio (Brazil) (the Klein Award) and Paul Cobb (USA) (the Freudenthal Award). These awards and the 2007 awards will formally be presented to the recipients at the opening ceremony of ICME-11, to be held in Monterrey, México, in July 2008.

The ICMI Awards Committee is now entering a third cycle of selecting awardees for 2007. The result of this process will be known by the end of 2007. As was the case for the first two cycles, the ICMI Awards Committee welcomes suggestions coming from the mathematics education community in addition to wishing this information to be widely distributed.

Nominations of candidates for the Felix Klein or the Hans Freudenthal Awards have to be accompanied by summaries presenting the persons nominated and the reasons for the nomination. Moreover, nominations also have to include the names and coordinates of two or three persons whom the committee may contact for further information.

All proposals must be sent by e-mail to Mogens Niss no later than by 15 November 2007.

The White House named 11 scholars among the 13 winners of the 2006 National Medals of Science, the US highest scientific honor. The prize recognizes achievement in the physical, biological, mathematical, social, behavioral, and engineering sciences.
President Bush has presented the medals for 2006, as well as the medals for 2005, at a White House ceremony on 27 July.
Hyman Bass, past president of ICMI, professor of mathematics and mathematics education at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, has received the prize in mathematics and the computer sciences for establishinga branch of mathematics known as "algebraic K-theory."

Shaw Prize

the Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences has been awarded on 12 June 2007. The Shaw Prize goes in equal shares to Prof. Robert Langlands (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton) and Prof. Richard Taylor (Harvard University) for initiating and developing a grand unifying vision of mathematics that connects prime numbers with symmetry.

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Previous issues can be seen here.