Skip to main content

IMU-Net 50: November 2011

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


Any new member of the Executive Committee (EC) like me quickly becomes aware of the mathematics community's respect for and confidence in the IMU and of how in consequence it places important responsibilities in the hands of the EC. I had imagined that this would involve the obvious activities: planning for future ICMs, choosing venues, appointing prize committees, identifying chairs of programme committees etc., etc., all of which are enormously important and very closely observed by people with high expectations. More generally, I expected the EC to have overarching responsibility for presenting the mathematician's perspective in international affairs with a much wider scientific context. However what I was not well prepared for was the shear volume and amazing range of additional, less high profile but no less important, activity with which the IMU is involved. For example, it deals with and makes nominations to bodies such as the International Council for Science, and it has its own Committee on Electronic Information and Communications, its Commission for Developing Countries and its International Commission for Mathematical Instruction. In addition the EC is constantly being asked to nominate suitable candidates to serve on regional and international bodies (the committee for freedom and responsibility in science being a typical example), or deciding whether or not to grant its imprimatur to projects of all kinds, or to intervene in national disputes on science policy, or on behalf of individual mathematicians, or to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, etc.; the list is endless and very interesting.
Added to this is the development of policies specific to mathematics, on journal pricing and ranking, the use and abuse of citation data, outreach, relations with adhering organisations, and so on. In every aspect of this long list of activity the burden placed on the Officers, especially on the Secretary and the President, are enormous, relentless and getting worse.
My experience of EC activity to date has placed the debate at the General Assembly in Bangalore about a stable headquarters for IMU in a new light. To me the new arrangements with Berlin (the location is irrelevant) were inevitable and without them the IMU might have ceased to function as we would expect a 21st century organisation representing the queen of the sciences. The IMU has such an important role in the world, the status quo ante was no longer in option. That is my personal opinion.

John Toland, member of the Executive Committee of IMU

News from IMU

The New IMU Archive. On November 10, 2011 the new IMU archive in Berlin has been officially opened with a small ceremony in the presence of a Finish delegation including Olli Lehto, Guillermo Curbera (curator of the IMU archive), Ingrid Daubechies (IMU President), Birgit Seeliger (IMU archivist), and several of the IMU Secretariat employees in Berlin. Olli Lehto, who moved the archive to Helsinki about 20 years ago, gave a very nice lecture about the history of the archive. Bernard Hodgson, former ICMI Secretary General, came to Berlin on November 22 to discuss the archiving of ICMI material. IMU is very grateful to CEIC, especially James Davenport, for its help in the organization of the e-archiving.

The Klein project

Started in 2009, the Klein Project is an IMU/ICMI initiative to provide the means for secondary teachers of senior classes to continue to engage their interest in mathematics, in particular to enable them to understand the breath, unity, and evolution of the contemporary research field. It draws inspiration from Felix Klein's books 100 years ago "Elementary mathematics from an advanced viewpoint". The outputs of the Klein Project are to be a book that includes chapters and mathematical "vignettes", a website that can be kept up to date (, and other resources.
Klein Project meetings have been held in six different countries so far, and have successfully used the space between school and university mathematics as a place where teachers and mathematicians can engage with each other. So far, except in Brazil, the production of material for the web has been very limited with eight vignettes posted on the website. The Brazilian community has been very active on the project with many vignettes produced, refereed and tested in workshops bringing together mathematicians, mathematics educators and teachers. The Brazilian vignettes will soon be posted on the web.
A Klein workshop took place at American Institute of Mathematics on November 7-11. It was the first non Brazilian workshop really dealing with the writing and testing vignettes by a mixed group of mathematicians, mathematics educators and teachers. The workshop was very successful in allowing the writing of several more vignettes to be posted soon and starting a North American Klein community. A blog will be launched in January 2012 (with a link on the present website), where new vignettes will be posted every week or so and vignettes will be commented and criticized. The workshop was the occasion to test a model of "Klein workshop", and the model is to be used by any country willing to organize such a workshop.
For information: Bill Barton,

Blog on mathematical journals

The creation of this blog was announced recently in a special Newsletter:
Everyone interested can submit his/her opinion through posting an article (e-mail to: and/or forwarding a comment (add a comment to a posted article by typing in the "comments" window or sending e-mail to

Registration for 6ECM is open

The list of plenary and invited speakers is complete, 15 satellite meetings are announced and the registration is now open. Please consult the Congress website for updated information. The 6th ECM poster can be downloaded from the site.
Young mathematicians and mathematicians from economically less-favoured countries may apply for grants supporting participation in the 6th ECM. There are reductions of the conference fee for members of the EMS, Polish Mathematical Society and for students.

Mathematics of Planet Earth

1. The Newsletter The first issue of the MPE2013 Newsletter appeared in November. You may see it at, and you can register there if you wish to receive the next (electronic) issues.

2. Prize "CELESTIAL MECHANICS FOR PLANET EARTH" to be awarded at the Sixth International Meeting on Celestial Mechanics: This prize will be awarded to the best presentation of an original research work aimed at the safeguard of our planet from space threatens.

Subscribing to IMU-Net

There are two ways of subscribing to IMU-Net:

  1. Click here with a Web browser and go to the "Subscribe" button to subscribe to IMU-Net online.
  2. Send an e-mail to with the Subject-line: Subject: subscribe


In both cases you will get an e-mail to confirm your subscription so that misuse will be minimized. IMU will not use the list of IMU-Net emails for any purpose other than sending IMU-Net, and will not make it available to others.

Previous issues can be seen here.