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IMU-Net 32: November 2008

A Bimonthly Email Newsletter from the International Mathematical Union
Editor: Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel, University Paris Descartes, Paris, France


Dear Reader,

We are happy to welcome Kenya as the third Associate Member of the IMU after Ecuador and Kyrgyzstan. I take this opportunity to recall that an important mission of IMU is to promote and encourage mathematical research and education in developing countries.
You can also help us increase the distribution of the Newsletter by forwarding this issue to colleagues and encouraging them to subscribe. I wish you a Merrry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel

News from IMU: Kenya has become an Associate IMU member

The vote on Kenya's application for Associate Membership yielded a positive result. As of October 2008, Kenya is an Associate Member of the IMU. For more information on Kenya's Adhering Organization see Kenya's IMU Website

IMU on the web: Access Grid: enabling e-Collaboration

Access Grid
"Video-conferencing" covers a broad range of functionalities from basic two way use of video and audio for meetings to include document cameras, data exchange, desktop sharing, recording and shared applications (such as interactive whiteboards). Many versions, mostly commercial, of video-conferencing are available running in specially equipped rooms or on desktops/laptops. The Access Grid, AG, developed at Argonne National Laboratories (see, has been described as video-conferencing "on steroids": it's free, scalable to many Access Grid Rooms, AGRs, and flexible. AGRs run under Windows, UNIX or Mac environments. There's no typical AGR (for a photo gallery, see However AGRs usually have a "wall": one large projection screen of three (or four) linked computer projection screens. There's usually one audio stream and video streams from three cameras.

Working on 2 screens
Many presenters work with two screens (with other screens used for video of remote audiences etc). One screen displays the main presentation (pdf slides, say) and one screen displays software demonstrations or "Digital Ink": handwritten asides, worked examples or sketches. How Digital Ink is provided depends on the hardware and software used.

Since the AG uses VNC for the data/software stream, the presenter chooses to enable, or not, remote control: remote collaborators can take over the mouse and control the software (Maple, Word, etc).

The AG software can run on a desktop/laptop: it's free and all that's required is a web-cam, headphones with a microphone and good internet connection, resulting in a Personal Interface to the Grid, a PIG.

Canadian seminars
For three years, led by Simon Fraser University and Dalhousie University, about 90 regional and coast-to-coast seminars, in mathematics and computer science, have been conducted via a network of Canadian AGRs [1].

In Australia
ICE-EM (the education arm of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, AMSI), is coordinating and partially funded 11 AGRs, in mathematics precincts in Australia. Most of the 38 universities in Australia have access to an AGR. In December 2007, an AMSI one-day seminar on engineering mathematics education had 16 remote AGRs participating.

Using AGRs to collaboratively teach Honours (that is, 4th year) mathematics and statistics courses commenced in July 2006. During 2008, 17 courses were offered (see and follow the links Access Grid > Subject and Course List). Students, with the approval of their home university, can take courses for credit toward their Honours degree. All AMSI member universities are invited to participate.

The UK
Six centres in the UK, funded by the EPSRC, commenced (in October 2007) the teaching of "broadening" courses for PhD students. Two of these centres use AG technology: the MAGIC consortium of 15 universities (see and the Taught Course Centre: a collaboration between the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Imperial, Oxford and Warwick (see

The Access Grid enables very rich multi-nodal remote collaborations in research and teaching. Likewise, it is also an excellent and travel-reducing way to run a variety of administrative and planning meetings. The mathematics community, in Australia, the UK and Canada, is leading the way with collaborative teaching of advanced mathematics or seminars across networks of AGRs [2].

[1] Borwein, J., et al., Coast-to-Coast (C2C) Seminar: Background, History, and Practice; and Apendices A & B. In Borwein, J., Rocha, E.M. and Rodrigues, J.F. (Editors) Communicating Mathematics in the Digital Era. AK Peters, 2008. Available from

[2] Bill Blyth, What is Access Grid? . and so what for maths? Aust MS Gazette, 35, 5 (November), in press, 2008. Available from:

Bill Blyth
National Coordinator, Access Grid project
Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, AMSI

2008 Ramanujan Prize

The 2008 Srinivasa Ramanujan Prize will be awarded to Professor Enrique R. Pujals, Instituto Nacional de Matemática Pura e Aplicada (IMPA), Brazil. The Prize is in recognition of "his outstanding contributions to Dynamical Systems, especially the characterization of robust dynamics for flows and transformations and th development of a theory of generic systems."

The Prize is supported by the Niels Henrik Abel Memorial Fund, with the participation of the International Mathematical Union.

Passing away of Professor Kiyoshi Ito

Kiyoshi Itô died on November 10, 2008, at the age of 93. Kiyoshi Itô was one of the great figures of probability theory in the twentieth century, along with A.N. Kolmogorov and P. Lévy. Itô's most famous mathematical contribution is his invention of stochastic integrals, which were initially motivated by the theory of stochastic differential equations. The celebrated Itô formula gives an expression for a smooth function of Brownian motion, or of more general random processes, in terms of stochastic integrals. Itô's stochastic calculus has had an enormous impact in theoretical probability, as well as a huge number of applications in domains such as mathematical finance. For the latter reason, Kiyoshi Itô was awarded the first Gauss Prize of IMU at the 2006 ICM in Madrid.

ICSU booklet

The International Council for Science (ICSU) endorses a new booklet on Freedom, Responsibility and the Universality of Science.

In the light of recent high profile cases of scientific misconduct, the General Assembly of the International Council for Science (ICSU) reaffirmed the universal values that should guide the conduct of science. The Assembly also explicitly recognised the key social responsibilities of the scientific community as laid out in a new booklet, which will be made widely available to scientists across the world.

The booklet asserts that: "all scientists have a responsibility to ensure that they conduct their work with honesty and integrity; and to ensure that methods and results are reported in an accurate, orderly, timely and open fashion."

The booklet and more on the General Assembly are available at:

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