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IMU-Net 47: May 2011

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


I had the privilege of being elected Vice-president of the IMU at the last General Assembly, and it is now five months that I am following the activities of the IMU. The subjects discussed at the Executive Committee are quite diverse, from the establishment of the permanent office to the ranking and pricing of journals, to mathematics in developing countries and the future ICM, and the members of the Executive Committee tend to specialize on one or two dossiers. Although I am a pure mathematician myself, I am becoming more and more interested in the science of sustainability, so let me talk to you of this. IMU is one of the international unions inside the International Council of Science (ICSU). At the Executive we regularly receive messages from ICSU asking for input from its members. While it is not new that scientists are involved in the study of climate change and sustainability issues, a new feeling of emergency has developed. The warning signs are becoming more numerous that urgent action is needed if we want to save the planet from a disastrous future, since we may not be far from a point of no return: climate change with more extreme weather events, rising of the sea level with the melting of glaciers, shortage of food and water in the near future because of the increase of the world population and the climate change, loss of biodiversity, new epidemics or invasive species, etc. This explains why ICSU is starting a new 10-year research initiative: EARTH SYSTEM RESEARCH FOR GLOBAL SUSTAINABILITY, and a Steering Committee for this initiative is presently nominated. The goals of the Initiative are to:

1. Deliver at global and regional scales the knowledge that societies need to effectively respond to global change while meeting economic and social goals;

2. Coordinate and focus international scientific research to address the Grand Challenges and Belmont Challenge;

3. Engage a new generation of researchers in the social, economic, natural, health, and engineering sciences in global sustainability research.

In the same spirit, ICSU is preparing a strong scientific presence at the next United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) that will take place on June 4-6, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro. For this, ICSU is organizing a number of preparatory regional and global meetings. It is clear that mathematical sciences have an essential role in the interdisciplinary research that needs to take place in order to achieve significant impact. The other scientific disciplines concerned are numerous from physics, to biology, to economics, etc. Let me quote Graciela Chichilnisky, the author of the carbon market of the UN Kyoto Protocol: "It is the physicists that study the climate change, but it is the economists who advise the politicians that take the decisions." Considering the importance of the contribution of mathematical sciences in sustainability issues, IMU has asked to participate actively in these preparatory meetings and be represented at Rio+20. This should be an occasion to build partnerships with the other scientific unions inside ICSU. More and more mathematicians and research institutes around the world become interested in sustainable development as is acknowledged by the large participation in Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 ( which was recently endorsed by IMU. But the world needs more than a one year initiative. The science of sustainability is full of challenging problems which are very interesting mathematically. Many of these problems require new mathematical techniques. We could hope that these initiatives will allow training a new generation of researchers in mathematical sciences who will be able to work in interdisciplinary teams to address these issues.

Christiane Rousseau
Vice-President of Executive Committee of IMU

IMU on the Web

In early May, CEIC held its annual in person meeting at the Courant Institute, New York University. This is an important opportunity for the group to get to know each other and plan an agenda for the coming year.

To begin to introduce IMU-Net readers to our new members, we asked Thierry Bouche to write briefly about his background and outlook in the CEIC context.
Thierry, maître de conférences at Institut Fourier (Université Joseph-Fourier, Grenoble, France) and director of Cellule MathDoc (joint service unit CNRS/UJF), has been associated with many Digital Mathematics Library activities over the last decade.

To describe his recent activities, Thierry told us as follows:
"A lot of my recent work has been in the area of the World Digital Mathematical Library (W)DML:
(1) Trying to develop reasonable (and reasonably consensual) policies in order to have more stakeholders endorsing the vision, and contributing digital content to an ever more exhaustive repository of freely accessible mathematical reference works.
(2) Trying to shape MathDoc related projects both as technical testbeds, and as exemplary implementations over the small subset of the corpus I am entitled to actually work with.
Although most of these projects are journal-oriented, I do care about other formats--they are simply much more demanding to deal with.
(3) I formed and led the working group that wrote what became the first ever international project funded to assemble a DML beyond a particular project's or national boundary, while also addressing some math-specific technical challenges. This project is currently running and should start producing visible (but not as much impressive as I would have hoped) results this Summer."

And, how might joint work in CEIC fit?
"On one hand, I had been discussing with many CEIC members in the past decade--I participated in some meetings and contributed to some of the recommendations as well, so the invitation to join was not so much of a surprise. But I felt honoured anyway, and viewed this mainly as IMU's support on many of my suggestions towards a more inclusive and international DML. I hope that being backed up by IMU will open more doors and help balance short-term commercial interests with the long-lasting needs of the mathematical community."

Carol Hutchins
Courant Institute of Math Sciences Library
and member, CEIC

IMU booklet

The new IMU Secretariat was officially inaugurated on February 1, 2011. The Secretariat has edited a small booklet that provides information about the staff of the new Secretariat, the speeches given at the inauguration and brief information about the activities of IMU.
You can find the booklet at

and via
it's Webpage
where further information about the opening ceremony and more photos can be found.

Women in Mathematics: a contact person for IMU

There is a widely-recognized demand for an increase in mathematical capacity, in all countries and at all levels. There is a need for mathematicians, for teachers of mathematics, and for researchers and practicing scientists who are knowledgeable about and comfortable with mathematical tools.
At the same time the mathematical science community is losing talented people at all levels. The proportion of women in academic mathematical sciences declines at each successive professional level, beginning with PhD graduates and progressing trough senior faculty and administration.
I believe that an important goal of the mathematical community is to increase the presence of women in mathematics at all levels and that the beneficiaries of the actions will be not women only.
There is evidence that the actions of departments, academic institutions, other organizations such as professional societies , research institutes, advocacy groups (like Association for Women in Mathematics, European Women in Mathematics and WiM committees within mathematical societies) can make a difference, which proves that appropriate efforts are necessary and could be effective.
Therefore I have accepted with pleasure the invitation to be a "contact person" who would help the IMU permanent Secretariat set up a web page where people would find pointers to databases, articles, etc on the global issue of Women and Mathematics, and who would relay to them information to be added to the web page. My intent is to make the IMU web page a point of departure for anyone who wants to find out about initiatives and/or studies/findings related to Women and Mathematics, anywhere in the world.

I would like to use this opportunity to draw your attention to "A Call to Action" the Report of the BIRS Workshop of Women in Mathematics, September 24-28 2006 ,
which was a call for action to improve the representation and experiences of women in mathematics in North America.
I have quoted from the report in the first paragraphs of my text here.

Dusanka Perisic
Department of Mathematics and Informatics, University of Novi Sad, Serbia

Abel Prize 2011

The American mathematician John Milnor (Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Stony Brook University, New York, USA) has received the 2011 Abel Prize from His Majesty King Harald at an award ceremony in Oslo, Norway, 24 May 2011.

The Abel Lectures took place at the University of Oslo, 25 May 2011. John Milnor gave his prize lecture, Curtis McMullen (Harvard University, USA) and Michael Hopkins (Harvard University, USA) were invited to give the Abel Lectures. The aim of the Abel Lectures is to give a general audience a glimpse of the mathematics of the Abel Laureate and to convey to the general mathematician the importance and impact of his work. The Science Lecture was delivered by Etienne Ghys (Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France).

2013 ICPAM-CIMPA research schools call for projects

The aim of the International Centre for Pure and Applied Mathematics ICPAM-CIMPA is to promote international cooperation in higher education and research in mathematics and their interactions, as well as related subjects, particularly computer science, for the benefit of developing countries. Our action concentrates on the places where mathematics emerges and develops, and where a research project is possible.
ICPAM-CIMPA is a UNESCO centre located in Nice, with financial support from the French Ministère de l'Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche (France), the Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis (France), the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovacion (Spain) and UNESCO.

We organize research schools of about two weeks in developing countries. The purpose of these schools is to contribute to the research training of the new generation of mathematicians, women and men.
Once selected by the Scientific Committee and the Steering Council of ICPAM-CIMPA, research schools are organized locally with the help of ICPAM-CIMPA. ICPAM-CIMPA's financial contribution is essentially for young mathematicians from neighbouring countries to be able to attend the research school. ICPAM-CIMPA can help with obtaining founds from other sources.
Proposals related to applications of mathematics are specially welcome. The call for proposals for research schools begins on March 1st, 2011. The deadline for a pre-proposal is June 15, 2011. The complete proposal is due October 1st, 2011.
The application form can be found on ICPAM-CIMPA website ( ), you can also write to

Committee on Women in Science Engineering and Medicine

The Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine (CWSEM) is a standing committee of the National Research Council (USA). Its mandate is to coordinate, monitor, and advocate action to increase the participation of women in science, engineering, and medicine. Among several activities, it organized the workshop "Blueprint for the Future: Framing the Issues of Women in Science in a Global Context"
The Committee provided a list of reliable resources that present relevant statistical data on women researchers in science.

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