A Bimonthly Email Newsletter from the International Mathematical Union
Editor: Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel, University Paris Descartes, Paris, France
The Executive Committee will meet in Rome on February 27-28. This meeting will focus on the preparations for the issues to be considered at the General Assembly of IMU, to be held in Bangalore, India, August 16-17, just before the ICM in Hyderabad. One of the items on the agenda of the Rome EC meeting will be the "IMU stable office". As you may recall (IMU-Net 26: November 2007), the 15th General Assembly in Santiago de Compostela recommended that the incoming EC "studies the establishment of stable administrative structure ... and reports to the 2010 General Assembly with concrete proposals". The call for bids to host the IMU office was sent to the Adhering Organizations in the Circular Letter 6/2007, and the response has been so positive that IMU now finds itself in the fortunate, but difficult, situation of having to choose between several very good and very generous offers! On behalf of the EC, I would like thank all the bidding institutions, and all the people involved, for the time and effort they have spent, and for thus showing their interest in, and concern for, the future wellbeing of IMU.
Member of the Executive Committee
IMU on the Web: some short noteworthy announcements
Still active and updated is the project called SHERPA, which in addition to offering information about various digital archives and repositories, has a section guiding authors who want to post works online to a collection of publishers' conditions regarding transfer of copyright.
Check here for details: www.sherpa.ac.uk
Rich Math Display from LaTeX and MathML Going mainstream at the recent Joint Math Meetings in San Francisco: A MathJax display choice for Math Reviews will be released later in the year as an alternative to the current display choices of plain HTML and PDF. MathJax is an open source platform displaying mathematics in a wide range of browsers. Its development is supported by a consortium including the AMS, SIAM, Design Science and the APS.
- Cornell University Library seeks broader financial support for arxiv.org
Read the press release: news.library.cornell.edu/news/arxiv
- Math Overflow (MO)
Readers may recall the USENET group sci.math.research, or be familiar with web sites offering calculus homework aid. Today, serious mathematics researchers are partaking of a relatively new participatory web site called "Math Overflow". MO is funded by Prof Ravi Vakil (Stanford) and is managed by a group of graduate students including Anton Geraschenko, Dan Brown and others. It is a place on the web where researchers may pose questions and receive answers from a sizable participant community. When asked whether the moderation of Math Overflow takes a lot of time, the answer was "no". And the interesting factor here is a reputation system which controls "trolling". Answers may be voted up or down, and users earn reputation points for their activities. This kind of system scales well, leading eventually to only a limited distinction between the moderators and participants with "high reputation".
In this way, the kinds of questions typically brought to a departmental tea can be presented to a wide audience.
Carol Hutchins, member, CEIC
ICM 2010 Local Hospitality
The Executive Organizing Committee for ICM 2010 is pleased to announce that it is in a position to offer local hospitality to a limited number of PRE-REGISTERED international participants in ICM 2010.
Local hospitality includes:
(i) Transfer from the airport to place of accommodation on arrival on the 18th/19th of August and vice-versa on departure 27th/28th of August.
(ii) Accommodation in a service apartment or guest house (details are at www.icm2010.com/accommodation.asp) from the 18th to the 27th of August. You may have to share your accommodation.
(iii) Daily transport from the place of accommodation to HICC, the venue of the ICM 2010 on all mornings (except Monday the 23rd) and return in the evening.
(iv) A modest subsistence allowance for incidental expenses.
Those desirous of availing this support should either send an email to
or write to ICM secretariat
Dept of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad 500046 India
in the format given at
The last date for applying is 31st March, 2010. To avail of this support participants will have to register by 1st May. (Remember that you only need to PRE-REGISTER to apply for support.)
IMU at ICSU
IMU is a member of the International Council of Science (ICSU), whose initials are a reminder of its former name, the International Council of Scientific Unions. The ICSU was founded in 1931 to promote international scientific activity and its applications for the benefit of humanity, which makes it one of the oldest non-governmental organizations in the world. Its origins date back to the International Association of Academies (IAA; 1899-1914) and the International Research Council (IRC; 1919-1931), which eventually gave rise to this new structure. The strength of the ICSU resides in the dual nature of its member bodies: Nations, on the one hand, and International Scientific Unions on the other. The IMU belongs to this second category.
The ICSU is structured geographically according to three Regional Offices, each with its own specific priorities. These offices are as follows:
- Regional Office for Africa-ROA
- Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean-ROLAC
- Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific-ROAP
A project is currently under way to create a further office in Arab countries.
Questions we might ask ourselves are: What is the IMU's role in the ICSU? Is it useful for the IMU to be a member of the ICU? And reciprocally, what advantage does the ICSU derive from the IMU's membership?
Like any other scientific union, the IMU finds a natural place in the ICSU, but this would be inconceivable if it did not include mathematicians. We should always bear in mind that Mathematics plays an essential role in Education, but they should also be regarded as the key technology, the basic technology.
Therefore, both the overall and particular objectives of the ICSU are impossible without Mathematics at two levels:
- Mathematical education is indispensable for a sound scientific education;
- Mathematical research must necessarily form part of all scientific and technological development.
These twin aspects are clear for all to see if we take a look at the current ICSU Strategic Plan for the 2006-2011 period, but they are clearer still in the scheme that is soon to get under way in 2012-2017, which will concentrate on three areas:
- Environmental and Sustainable Development (HAZARDS)
- Data and Information (SICD)
- Capacity Building (Science Education)
All three of these important projects will entail a great deal of mathematical research:in partial differential equations, control theory, fluid mechanics, dynamic systems, mathematical algorithms, data mining, stochastic processes, complexity, etc. Mathematicians must therefore be able to break through their own barriers and gradually occupy their place in the ICSU; their contribution is essential for the ICSU to achieve its aims.
The IMU's strategy and that of the mathematicians in the ICSU must be directed along three main lines of action:
- To underline the role of mathematical education at both university and non-university levels;
- To continue the task of training young researchers in countries with economic difficulties by means of schools, workshops, congresses and grants, just as the IMU has been doing for decades;
- To foment the role of mathematical research in the programs launched through the ICSU, with experts capable of identifying the type of mathematics required in each case as well as proposing the appropriate mathematical measures to be adopted.
The task of the IMU in the ICSU should be structured through the Regional Offices. An outstanding example is the IMU's collaboration with ROLAC, an office that includes Mathematical Education as one of its priorities. The new strategic plan of the ICSU provides opportunities for Capacity Building (with the obvious participation of the ICMI and the CDC) and for Data and Information (in which the CEIC has a natural field of action).
In recent years, the IMU has stepped up its presence in the ICSU by sending a delegation to the ICSU General Assembly held in Maputo (Mozambique) in October 2008, and by participating in more specific meetings such as the World Science Forum in November 2009, in Budapest (Hungary), as well as the next meeting of the scientific unions in Rome on April 7th and 8th of this year. Experts have also been nominated to sit on various committees, and while the response has not always been as positive as the IMU would have desired, it is only a question of time before it occupies a significant role in the ICSU. Furthermore, the imminent establishment of the IMU permanent office will without doubt help to increase the IMU's representation in the ICSU.
Manuel de Leon, Member of the Executive Committee of IMU, IMU representative at ICSU
2009 Ramanujan Prize
The Ramanujan Prize Selection Committee has announced that the 2009 Srinivasa Ramanujan Prize will be awarded to Ernesto Lupercio, a researcher at CINVESTAV, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Mexico.
Ernesto Lupercio is being honoured for "his outstanding contributions to algebraic topology, geometry and mathematical physics. The prize is also in acknowledgement of the enormous contribution that Professor Lupercio has made to mathematics in Mexico, through his energy, enthusiasm and collaborations with young researchers."
The Prize has been supported by the Niels Henrik Abel Memorial Fund, with the participation of the International Mathematical Union.