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IMU-Net 55: September 2012

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


The aim of the International Mathematical Union is to promote international cooperation in mathematics, in particular (quoting from the IMU website) "to encourage and support international mathematical activities considered likely to contribute to the development of mathematical science in any of its aspects, pure, applied, or educational". The last of these aspects is addressed in depth through IMU's commission ICMI: the International Commission for Mathematical Instruction, a body with a history longer than that of the IMU itself. I have been the IMU executive committee's liaison person with the ICMI executive for the past few years and have witnessed the realisation of a major new development focus by ICMI: the Capacity and Networking Project CANP.
The CANP vision is to run an on-going series of programmes in a different developing region each year, seeking to enhance mathematics education at all levels, and to create and sustain effective regional networks of teachers, mathematics educators and mathematicians, linked to international support. CANP aims to build capability in the mathematical community to meet the challenges faced by countries in these regions.
The first CANP programme was held in Mali in 2011 bringing together 40 mathematicians from Burkina-Fasso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, and Senegal, and supported in particular by UNESCO. Recently the second CANP programme was held in Costa Rica with support from the International Council of Science (ICSU). It saw the founding of the "Mathematics Education Network of Central America and the Caribbean". The third CANP programme is planned to take place in Cambodia and involve several developing countries in South East Asia.

Cheryl E. Praeger
Member of the IMU EC
Vice-president elect of ICMI

News from IMU

Guidelines for IMU General Assembly

Since the foundation of IMU such guidelines have not been existing, the GA meetings were always organized in a somewhat ad hoc manner. At the recent two General  Assemblies it was suggested to consider drafting guidelines so that the organizers of future General Assembly meetings would have a clear picture of what has to be done. Now the IMU EC made such a draft that will be tested in the planning of the 2014 GA meeting. The new guidelines will also be on the agenda of the 2014 GA meeting so that the GA delegates can discuss the guidelines and suggest changes, amendments and the like. The local GA organizers and the IMU EC will report about their experiences with using the guidelines so that a final version may be ready for approval by the GA in 2014.

IMU on the Web

a) Supporting Scholarly Annotation of Online Mathematics Resources

The W3C Open Annotation Community Group [1] is developing an open, general-purpose model for describing scholarly annotations of Web resources, including scholarly journal articles, class Web pages, mathematics eprints, etc. Leveraging emerging Semantic Web standards and Linked Open Data best practices, the goal of Open Annotation is interoperability that simultaneously supports advanced scholarly discourse and a wide-range of content repositories and annotation tools. More and more annotation tools now available or in development can be used with mathematics content; the goal of Open Annotation is to encourage development of semantic-rich tools and services by providing a shared model of annotation description on which to build.

Annotation is core to many domains, including mathematics -- consider the work in number theory inspired in part because the margins of Arithmetica were wide enough to contain Fermat's Last Theorem, but not wide enough to contain its proof. Math annotation use cases can be among the most challenging because mathematicians frequently need to embed graphics and/or equations in notes and often want to annotate the fine details of equations and expressions. When it comes to mathematics, the view that all annotations are plain text does not suffice.

Open Annotation takes a resource-centric approach. An annotation has one or more targets (Web resources, resource components, or resource representations). Arbitrary granularity is supported; you can annotate an entire book or only a single element in a single equation. Target granularity can be expressed using domain-specific semantics like TeX and MathML. The body (content) of an annotation is another resource with its own unique identifier. The annotation body can be of any format; thus a Web video can annotate the use of an equation. The annotation itself, expressing the relationship between body and target(s), is given its own unique identifier. Thus body, target(s), and annotation can all be individually referenced. This supports advanced annotation chaining and data mining.

Contributors to this work include the Mellon Foundation-supported Open Annotation Collaboration [2] and the bioscience-focused Annotation Ontology initiative [3]. Open Annotation specifications are being vetted against real-world use cases, and we would welcome use cases from mathematicians and scholarly mathematics content providers. For further information visit the Community Group homepage.


Tim Cole, Mathematics & Digital Content Access Librarian
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, PI, Open Annotation Collaboration
email: t-cole3(at)

b) The Future World Heritage Digital Mathematics Library Symposium
The Future World Heritage Digital Mathematics Library Symposium was held at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC, on June 1-3, 2012. The meeting was organized by the CEIC and supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The participants consulted on the ongoing goal of a World Digital Mathematics Library (WDML), and discussed progress made to date and future challenges. The final report of the meeting is at

Nominations for IMU Awards 2014

The President of the IMU, Ingrid Daubechies, has written to the Adhering Organizations, asking them to submit nominations for the IMU awards listed below.

* Fields Medals -
The Fields Medals are awarded every 4 years on the occasion of the International Congress of Mathematicians  to recognize outstanding mathematical achievement for existing work and for the promise of future achievement.

* Rolf Nevanlinna Prize -
The Nevanlinna Prize is awarded once every 4 years at the International Congress of Mathematicians, for outstanding contributions in mathematical aspects of information sciences.

* Carl Friedrich Gauss Prize -
The Gauss Prize is awarded once every 4 years to honor a scientist whose mathematical research has had an impact outside mathematics - either in technology, in business, or simply in people's everyday lives.

* Chern Medal Award -
The Chern Medal is awarded every 4 years on the occasion  of the International Congress of Mathematicians to an individual whose accomplishments warrant the highest level of recognition for outstanding achievements in the field of mathematics.

* Leelavati Prize, sponsored by Infosys -
The Leelavati Prize, is intended to accord high recognition and great appreciation of the IMU and Infosys of outstanding contributions for increasing public awareness of mathematics as an intellectual discipline and the crucial role it plays in diverse human endeavors.

* ICM 2014 Emmy Noether Lecture -
The ICM Emmy Noether lecture is a special lecture at an ICM which honors women who have made fundamental and sustained contributions to the mathematical sciences.

More details about each of these awards and the Noether lecture, as well as lists of past laureates, can be found on the IMU Website.

Deadline for nominations:  December 31, 2012
The names of the chairs of the various prize committees and their contact information can be found here.
The names of the other prize committee members remain confidential and will be announced at the Opening Ceremony of ICM 2014 only.

Fields Medal Symposium

The Fields Institute (Link to in Toronto, Canada will soon launch an annual event called the FIELDS MEDAL SYMPOSIUM, that will focus on the work of mathematicians honored by a Fields Medal. The Inaugural Fields Medal Symposium (Link to,
entitled Fundamentals of the Langlands Program, will be held on October 15-18, 2012. It will be centered on the work of Ngô Bà o Châu, and its current and potential impact.

Bill Thurston Passing Away

Bill Thurston passed away on August 21, 2012. He was for many years the dominant figure in the study of 3 dimensional topology and geometry, winning a Fields medal for this work in 1982. His "Geometrization Conjecture" classifying the topology of 3 manifolds was finally proved by Perelman as part of his work on the Poincaré Conjecture.

Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 (MPE2013)

MPE2013 is a year of scientific and outreach activities around the world in 2013:

It is not too late to participate to the "Mathematics of Planet Earth Competition for an open source exhibition of virtual modules" (museum-quality exhibits): You can participate yourself. Your help is also welcome to spread the news and encourage other people to participate: students, colleagues, teachers, etc. The modules submitted will form the basis of the permanent Mathematics of Planet Earth Open Source Exhibition. Examples of modules or themes to be covered are available on the website. The competition is open until December 20, 2012.

The launch of the MPE exhibition will be organized by the IMU jointly with MPE2013. It will take place at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on March 5-8 2013. The winners will receive their prizes during a ceremony on March 5. MPE2013 will work in partnership with UNESCO, IMU and ICMI for the promotion of the MPE exhibition, and for other MPE activities like the distribution of special MPE issues of magazines in Africa.

MPE2013 hopes to hold a daily blog in 2013. If you are interested to contribute, please send a message to, with an indication of preferred dates and topics.

Many countries are already preparing their MPE2013 launch and will hold activities all around 2013. It is not too late for other countries to join and organize MPE related activities. MPE2013 can help for partnerships.

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Previous issues can be seen here.