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IMU-Net 38: November 2009

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


Dear Reader,

IMU-Net has celebrated its 6th birthday! I hope that you still appreciate receiving the Newsletter and feel that it helps improving the communication between IMU and the worldwide mathematical community, by reporting on the activities of IMU, major international mathematical events and developments, and other topics of general mathematical interest. You can also help us increase the distribution of the Newsletter by forwarding this issue to colleagues and encouraging them to subscribe. I hope you will enjoy reading this issue,

Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel
Editor of IMU-Net

IMU on the Web: Some Thoughts on E-Books

Not surprisingly, journals have garnered greater attention than have books in the evolving digital library environment. Indeed, many research libraries are reaching a tipping point at which our day to day concerns are focused as much, if not more, on augmentation of the electronic collection than the print collection. While we hear lots about general interest and trade books in electronic form (e-books, e-readers) especially driven by mobile computing, a similar switch away from printed books does not yet seem to be the case for advanced and research mathematical monographs. At least, most of us responsible for mathematics collections are still buying printed books - insofar as we can afford them these days- because students and faculty want them. The codex, an old form, still presents tough competition for initiatives like Amazon's Kindle, Sony's e-Reader, and various manifestations on PDA's and laptops. Mathematical material has special representation requirements and intense study on screens is uncomfortable for many people.

Students tell me that they might be interested in certain textbooks, if an electronic form were available, just to make it easier to carry around. Unfortunately, the particular ones they want are not available to me to license on their behalf. Pedagogical material will likely follow its own path of development, largely dependent upon faculty insistence on affordability to students and willingness to move away from over-reliance on just a few standard texts.

Where research level material is concerned, edited collections derived from meetings seem to be so close to journals (apart from the level of peer review), one wonders why they should have a print production stream at all.

Search of legacy e-books (scanned) is already proving to be a boon to mathematicians. Think of your own story in which you found something you really needed on a page of a Google-scanned book. I know I can point to a recent case in which we found a key paper from the 1950s from a journal whose backfile we did not have simply because a scanned version of the author's selecta was done by Google.

Libraries are finding challenges in making e-books available because, for those collections which are licensed, there is the difficulty of integrating the metadata with existing data for the print collection. Publishers pressure to serve the book material from their own proprietary platforms. At the opposite extreme, we might like to integrate the files of books freely downloadable from individual author web sites, offering users a single institutional library search across all such electronic books. Until general agreement from said publishers is reached, this remains only on the Wish List. And by the way, in a similar to the marketing of bundles of "all our journals", publishers will likely insist that libraries take all book titles in a given subject area. In this way, libraries and in turn mathematics faculty lose the capacity to select or shape collections as relevant to their needs and finances.

The move towards more digital material, including monographs, is inevitable. One hopes that the various audiences for mathematics will find their needs met as things progress.

Carol Hutchins
Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences Library, New York University

ICM 2010 on Twitter

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Twitter is a free and flexible service that enables its users to send and read messages limited to 140 text characters displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to the author's subscribers who are known as /followers/.

ICM 2010: Financial Support for Mathematicians from Developing Countries (excluding INDIA)

The International Mathematical Union is currently accepting applications for financial support to attend the International Congress of Mathematicians 2010, to be held in Hyderabad, India.

Deadline for applications is January 1, 2010

Eligibility criteria:

1. Qualification: The applicant must either have a Ph.D. in mathematics or at least post-doctoral level research experience in mathematics.

2. Country of permanent work place: The permanent workplace of the mathematician must be one of the developing countries listed at the following webpage: (Note: the country of birth is not considered.)

For detailed information visit the following link:

Rajat Tandon
Secretary, Executive Organizing Committee ICM 2010

ICM 2010 Satellite Conferences

The next International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM 2010) is scheduled to be held in India at Hyderabad in 19-27 August. As part of this, satellite conferences are organized. The conferences are listed at:

Prize "Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh" (or Ibni Prize)

The French Society of Statistics (SFdS), the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SMAI) and the Mathematical Society of France (SMF) create an award in the memory of Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh to continue his commitment to quality training of young African mathematicians.

The Prize "Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh" is awarded annually by a scientific committee set up by CIMPA. It will allow a student of an institution of Central Africa or West Africa, in mathematics or statistics, at the graduate or post-graduate level, to benefit from a scientific training in a country other than his/her own.

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Previous issues can be seen here.