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IMU-Net 51: January 2012

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


When I visited ETH-Zuerich in 1998, I talked with Prof. Juergen Moser about the IMU; he was at that time in the Executive Committee (EC) as the Past President of IMU, and he played a major role in helping China to join IMU. Juergen told me that people had very high expectation of the IMU and our Union should try its best to help mathematicians all over the world. When the Chinese Mathematical Society held the ICM successfully in 2002, the Chinese mathematicians, including myself, thus strengthened our deep feeling of the important role which IMU plays in the world. In the General Assembly in Bangalore of 2010, I was very fortunate to be elected by the IMU members to serve on the Executive Committee; I gladly took on this responsibility and duty to serve our mathematical community in this role.

Now I have being working in the EC for a year and, we have dealt, together, with many issues. I am now even more conscious of the expectations of mathematicians in the world on IMU. There is no doubt that ICM is the most important job of IMU. But besides that, there are many issues important for our mathematical community that IMU needs to deal with carefully. In dealing with these issues, I feel that the principle of fair and equity is most important. In many issues, for example, geographical and gender considerations are important to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity for his/her development and future.
Here certainly special attention should be paid to people in the less developed areas, by listening to them and providing more chances to them whenever it is possible.

One example is the journal ranking problem which IMU is now discussing. This issue is closely related to how evaluating the academic level of a person or of a scientific work.
From my experience in China, this is a very sensitive and important issue. Now many mathematicians in China including myself believe that such an issue needs to be judged by certain experts via understanding the scientific works which have been done. Here prizes, awards, publications in certain high ranked journals, etc. are important in evaluating the level, but these conditions may not be the only criteria and even may not be necessary. For example, historically in China there do exist some research papers which were published in the university journals in Chinese and were recognized to be mathematically very important later. We do need to understand and view things dialectically. Mathematics is developing, and so does our international community. Therefore we need to consider things via a developing point of view. In the new year celebration meeting of the Chinese Mathematical Society, I informed and encouraged colleagues to join the running discussion on journal ranking and pricing by expressing their own opinions directly on the blog. I believe that with sufficient information from all over the world, IMU will find a relatively better solution on this issue.

As the leading group of IMU, the opinions of the EC on many issues are very crucial. Here the President and the Secretary certainly play very important roles, and they have done great contributions to our community. I think that to support and help their work, to provide useful suggestions, and to reflect opinions from different angles including from both the points of view of developing and developed countries and areas are very important. As a member of EC, I am looking forward to work with others to serve our mathematical community better.

Yiming Long
Member at Large, IMU Executive Committee

IMU on the Web

1. status and prospects So, you didn't realize that IMU and ICIAM are sponsoring a blog concerned with issues related to Mathematical Journals? It's understandable that this is a challenging topic; while there have been close to 50 comments input in response to the suggested activities and questions, we need to hear from more of you.

Thanks to mentions in various society mailings, the request for comments has been received by many, especially in Canada and in Europe. But mathematicians within the US to date have registered few comments.

The group appointed to moderate the blog had a few technical struggles at first, and the setup can be improved in specific ways, such as admitting active links in comment text. In the past few weeks RSS feeds were added. In general, we are grateful for the thoughtfulness of the individuals who have written, and we hope to hear from more people.

The blog was originally envisioned to have a limited lifetime, but this may be re-evaluated, depending upon the level of participation and the state of the ongoing discussion threads.

Peter Olver, CEIC chair and chair of moderating group:
Doug Arnold (ICIAM)
Carol Hutchins (IMU)
Nalini Joshi (ICIAM)
Ming-Chih Lai (ICIAM)
Fabrice Planchon (IMU)

2. Comprehensive update on MathJax CEIC has intended to prepare a short write up on MathJax, which is the de facto best way to display mathematical expressions within HTML. However, we would have difficulty doing better than the excellent article by Davide Cervone, which has appeared in the Notices of the AMS. Highly recommended read: "MathJax: a Platform for Mathematics on the Web" Notices of the AMS, vol 59, no 2 (2012)

3. Scholarly publishing garners media attention Forbes magazine technology columnist Tim Worstall, in his piece dated 1/28/2012, draws attention to ongoing concerns about the business model of large scholarly publishers.

He points to a petition on the internet, started by mathematicians, but now signed by many other scholars and scientists. While neither IMU nor CEIC endorse this petition, we suggest it is a sign of our times.

Ramanujan Prize

- Philibert Nang from Gabon wins the Ramanujan Prize
Professor Philibert Nang (44), École Normale Supérieure, Laboratoire de Recherche en Mathématiques, Libreville, Gabon, has been named the winner of the 2011 Ramanujan Prize for Young Mathematicians from Developing Countries. The Ramanujan Prize is awarded jointly by the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, the Niels Henrik Abel Memorial Fund, and the International Mathematical Union.
The Prize is in recognition of Professor Philibert Nang's outstanding contributions to the algebraic theory of D-modules.
The Ramanujan Prize is supported financially by the Norwegian Niels Henrik Abel Memorial Fund. The Ramanujan Prize carries a $15,000 cash award.

-Call for nominations for the 2012 Ramanujan Prize
The deadline for receipt of nominations for the 2012 Prize is 1 April 2012. Nominations should be sent to describing the work of the nominee in adequate detail. The winner will be selected by 15 June. The award ceremony will take place at ICTP in September.

Passing away of Salah Baouendi

Salah Baouendi, a former member of the IMU Executive Committee, died at his home in California on December 24, 2011.

Salah was born in Tunis, Tunisia, on October 12, 1937 and moved to France to complete his high school studies. He took a bachelor's degree in mathematics at the University of Paris in 1961. After doctoral studies at Orsay he held professorial positions at the Universities of Nice, Tunis, and Paris. In 1971 he moved to the United States and joined the mathematics faculty of Purdue University where he served for several years as Head of Department. In 1988 he moved to the Mathematics Department of the University of California in San Diego, where he continued his groundbreaking research and was a very popular teacher.

Salad Baouendi was an internationally reknown researcher in analysis who obtained fundamental results in the field of partial differential equations and in the theory of higher dimensional complex spaces. He was the author of more than 140 articles and books. An invited speaker at ICM 1974 in Vancouver, his other awards and honors include the AMS Stefan Bergman Prize which in 2003 he shared with Linda Rothschild, and his election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served on several leading editorial boards and was the founding co-editor-in-chief of two major mathematical journals, Communications in Partial Differential Equations and Mathematical Research Letters.

His commitment to the national and international mathematical community was considerable. After chairing the U.S. National Committee for Mathematics, he served on the Executive Committee of the IMU for the period 2006-2010. In spite of illness he took a very active part in its deliberations on a number of sensitive matters, including the question of whether or not to establish a stable office for the Union. He was also on the first Board of Trustees of the Friends of IMU, where his expert advice was invaluable during this crucial period.

Salah is survived by his wife and collaborator, Linda Rothschild, a son and a daughter, three grandchildren and two stepsons. His wisdom, kindness and balance will be grievously missed in the work of the Union.

László Lovász, Past President of IMU

Mathematics of Planet Earth

Mathematics of Planet Earth Competition for an open source exhibition of virtual modules.
This competition is part of the world initiative “Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013” (MPE2013).
The modules submitted to the competition will be part of the Mathematics of Planet Earth Open Source Exhibition of Virtual Modules. They could be reproduced and utilized by many users around the world from science museums to schools under a Creatice Commons license.
Examples of modules or themes to be covered are available on the website.
The competition will be open from January 2012 to September 15, 2012.

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