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IMU-Net 35: May 2009

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


Mikhail Leonidovich Gromov received the 2009 Abel Prize from His Majesty King Harald at an award ceremony in Oslo on 19 May. Her Majesty Queen Sonja also attended the award ceremony. The Abel Prize that carries a cash award of NOK 6,000,000 (close to EUR 700,000, or USD 950,000), is awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

The Abel Prize is an international prize for outstanding scientific work in the field of mathematics, including mathematical aspects of computer science, mathematical physics, probability, numerical analysis and scientific computing, statistics, and also applications of mathematics in the sciences. The prize is meant to recognise contributions of extraordinary depth and influence to the mathematical sciences. Such work may have resolved fundamental problems, created powerful new techniques, introduced unifying principles or opened up major new fields of research. The intent is to award prizes over the course of time in a broad range of fields within the mathematical sciences.

The right to nominate candidates is open to anyone. The Abel Laureate is selected on the basis of the recommendation from the Abel Committee, which is appointed by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. The Abel Committee is chaired by a Norwegian mathematician; the other four members are selected based on nominations from the IMU (three seats) and the European Mathematical Society (EMS) (one seat). Each member serves on the committee for two years, except the chair who serves for four years. By making nominations for the Abel Committee, the IMU and the EMS play a key role in sustaining eminent standards for the Abel Prize. The 2009 Abel Committee consisted of Sir John Kingman, Sergey Novikov, Neil Trudinger and Efim Zelmanov, together with the Norwegian chair Kristian Seip.

This summer Springer will publish the book "The Abel Prize 2003-2007. The First 5 Years" which will contain presentations of the first five years of Abel Laureates. The book is edited by Helge Holden and Ragni Piene.

Kristian Seip
Chair of the Abel Committee

News from IMU


The International Mathematical Union (IMU) and the ICM2010 Local Organizing Committee are currently making efforts to obtain financial support to enable as many mathematicians as possible from developing and economically disadvantaged countries to participate in ICM2010. Applicants need not necessarily be from IMU member countries.

The IMU and the Local Organizing Committee have established three different support categories (travel, registration, living support can be applied for):

1) Young mathematicians from developing and economically disadvantaged countries
2) Senior mathematicians from developing and economically disadvantaged countries
3) Mathematicians from developing countries in Asia with emphasis on countries neighboring India

All applicants must preregister (starting 15 May, 2009) at the Congress website ( as the preregistration access key will be required as the first step in the process of applying for support. In all cases, the permanent institution of the applicant must be located in a country which is eligible for the corresponding category.

Mathematicians from countries which are eligible under category 1 or category 2 (a list will be posted at the ICM2010 website) may apply under category 1 or 2 but not both. Mathematicians from Asian countries that are eligible under category 3 (a list will be posted at the ICM2010 website) may apply under that category whether or not they have applied under categories 1 or 2. However, the same type of support (e.g. living) will not be granted to the same individual under two different categories.

Mathematicians who do not fall within the three groups listed above are asked to refrain from applying for this support.

All mathematicians who wish to apply for support are kindly asked to complete the corresponding Application Form at the ICM2010 website (the same form is used for all three categories). Applications may be submitted from 1 JULY 2009 through 1 JANUARY 2010. The decision of the Selection Committee will be communicated as soon as possible, after 1 May 2010. Queries may be sent to the organization of the ICM2010 at the address

News from DCSG

1) Mathematics in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities A survey for the John Templeton Foundation

In the fall of 2007, the John Templeton Foundation requested the Developing Countries Strategy Group of the International Mathematical Union to prepare a brief report on the current state of mathematics in Africa and opportunities for new initiatives to support mathematical development.

65 institutions/individuals in Africa with broad experience in the domain were invited to contribute to the survey. Conclusions drawn from the study centered around four ideas, which may be useful for institutions, governments, and other organizations desiring to help strengthen mathematics in Africa:

(1) Enhancing mathematics and its contributions to development requires simultaneous attention at all levels.

(2) One effective way to enhance mathematics development is through research and education networks.

(3) Mathematically stronger countries in Africa, and governments and organizations outside Africa desiring to contribute to continental development, should support, rather than manage, the activities of participating centers in Africa.

(4) The support of mathematical development should take account of broader national and regional realities.

The full report is available on the IMU website at:

2) Volunteer Lecturer Program In the Editorial of IMU-Net 31 of September 2008, DCSG Chair Herb Clemens described the CIMPA-IMU/DCSG-USNCM Volunteer Lecturer Program. Upon reading this, Professor S.S. Okoya, Head of the Department of Mathematics of Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, requested two Volunteer Lecturers to deliver courses on Real Analysis and Algebra. In March of this year he hosted his first Volunteer Lecturer, Dr. Michael Nakamaye, from the University of New Mexico, USA, whom he would like to thank "for the enormous amount of energy and effort that he contributed to the life of the students as well as members of the Department and Faculty at large." The second volunteer will be Professor Vladimir Vershinin (Université Montpellier II, France/Sobolev Institute of Mathematics, Russia).

Mathematics and Astronomy: A joint long journey

An initiative from IMU, IAU and CSIC.

Mathematics and Astronomy walked together for thousands of years. Ptolemy, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton are good examples of this fruitful interaction between both disciplines. In medieval educational theory, the "quadrivium" consisted of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. More recently, the extraordinary works by Einstein with the General Theory of Relativity give new insights to our vision of the universe, in a wonderful cooperation of geometry and physics.

Topics like galactic and stellar dynamics, planetary atmospheres, radioactive transfer, hydrodynamic and hydromagnetic problems, statistical astronomy, celestial mechanics, cosmology, use sophisticated mathematics. Modeling such huge and complex systems, as galaxies or clusters of galaxies requires new computational techniques provided by mathematics.

The symposium wants to show and stress these links with the occasion of the celebration of the International Year of Astronomy IYA2009. It is organized by the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) and the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) under the auspices of the International Mathematical Union (IMU) and the International Astronomy Union (IAU).

The symposium will have a special session in order to discuss the approach of the astronomy to the mathematical education. Female researchers, young students, and astronomers and mathematicians from developing countries will be specifically encouraged to attend.

For further details, see the symposium web page

Manuel de León, Chair


The 7th Pan-African Congress of Mathematicians will be held from Monday 3rd to Saturday 8th of August 2009 in Yamoussoukro, Côte d'Ivoire under the theme "New trends in the Development and the applications of Mathematical Sciences." PACOM, which is a major scientific event for mathematicians in the African continent and beyond, is organised every 4 years under the auspices of African Mathematical Union in order to depict the state of the art of mathematical sciences and to address issues of interest to Africa, bringing together mathematicians from different countries, specialities, backgrounds and ages. This year's edition will be locally organised by the Société Mathématique de Côte d'Ivoire (SMCI), with the active participation of various Ivorian Universities.

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Previous issues can be seen here.