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IMU-Net 66: July 2014

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


I am writing this as a Member at Large of the Executive Committee, near the end of my four-year term. The IMU office-bearers and staff are busy with preparations for the forthcoming ICM-2014 and the General Assembly preceding it. At this time, some questions which come up are: what is the role and importance of the ICM for mathematics, why should an individual mathematician attend it, and why should a country sponsor it?

The question about attendance by individual mathematicians came up a few months ago, when a colleague and I were both visiting foreign lecturers in a certain developing country. Learning that I was an IMU Executive, the colleague (from another country) expressed the view that he personally did not see the point in attending an ICM, and had done so only once, in India, since he was an invited speaker. I thought this needed to be responded to, and I tried to do so, based on my personal experience of a few ICMs, and my own convictions. When I was requested to write an editorial, it struck me that this is a suitable time and place to once again bring up these issues before the community.

The question “Why Organize Large ICMs?” has been discussed in a very nice way, taking into account the history of the IMU and the evolution of the concept of the ICM, in the book “Mathematics without borders: A history of the International Mathematical Union” authored by Olli Lehto of Helsinki, who has been a long-serving IMU Executive, and was the Secretary of IMU for some years.

The idea of an ICM as a large conference spanning the full range of mathematical activities was not an immediately acceptable one, particularly with the rapid growth in the number of people who do mathematics, teach it or use it as a tool.

For example, there are clearly practical difficulties in arranging an ICM. Hodge, speaking at closing of the 1954 Amsterdam Congress, while inviting people to Edinburgh in 1958 for the next Congress, said “... the purpose of international congresses and specialized colloquia are quite different, and there is a real danger that if the complexities and cost of organisation continue to increase, it will become more and more difficult to find countries able and willing to undertake the burden of arranging a congress, and ... this would be very bad for mathematics”.

Fortunately, so far, ICMs have found sponsorship from countries ranging over the whole world, including some developing countries. Attendance has also stabilized to between 3000 and 5000 participants, which helps in the planning.

At the Edinburgh Congress, Hodge also gave good reasons why holding the ICM is beneficial to mathematics; in his view “the most important reason is that gatherings such as this serve as an invaluable safeguard against the dangers of excessive specialization.” Lehto, after quoting Hodge and others, goes on to expand on the point: “The problem we are faced with is simply that of maintaining contact with all the main developments going on in mathematics while working intensively in our own specialized field”. In my opinion these points remain valid even today, and are the strongest intellectual reasons for holding the ICMs.

I think it is particularly important for those who are not part of the “most mathematically developed” countries, to attend ICMs if possible, with a view of getting a broader exposure than would be available to them otherwise. They need this broader mathematical exposure, since they may be influential in their own regions as mentors, and can spread a good mathematical culture, avoiding the possible suboptimal use of talent in pursuing obscure topics. Of course, this needs to be balanced by a resistance to blindly following “fashions”, but this also involves having some better idea about the “fashionable” topics.

The ICMs have in recent years also provided a forum where mathematicians, and those involved with mathematics, can discuss issues which impact the practices in large parts of mathematics, across subfields. For example, ICM-2010 in Hyderabad (India) had a very lively panel discussion on the topic of ranking mathematical journals, which is a topic I have also been interested in during my term on the IMU EC. The forthcoming ICM-2014 has planned three such panels. ICMs are almost the only occasions when mathematicians, and persons interested in mathematics, can engage with such issues, and try to gain a truly international perspective.

Returning to my discussion with the skeptical colleague, one complaint made to me was that it was difficult to follow many talks. I feel that this is only natural in trying to learn something outside one’s comfort zone, and to a smaller extent happens even in a more narrowly focused professional conference, in one's own area of expertise, due to the varying abilities of speakers, and one’s interest in their topic. Of course, it is also incumbent on the selected speakers at ICMs to try and reach out to colleagues in other fields, instead of just speaking to the “in-group”, and it is natural that speakers succeed to different extents. The ICM Organizers do urge speakers to keep this in mind, but it is clearly in the speakers’ own interests to expose their work as well as they can, increasing the chances of their work influencing other parts of mathematics.

I look forward to seeing you (fans and skeptics) at Seoul!

Vasudevan Srinivas
Member at Large, IMU Executive Committee

Seoul ICM 2014

The next International Congress of Mathematicians (SEOUL ICM 2014, Aug. 13-21, 2014, Seoul, Korea) is now just around the corner! Please read carefully below for important last minute remarks, including onsite registration and badge claim information.

I. Onsite Registration from August 11, 2014
1. Full Registration USD 550
2. Student USD 300 Benefits:

  • Congress materials (including name tag!)
  • Proceedings in USB
  • Admittance to the Closing Ceremony and Welcome Reception
  • Access to all sessions and exhibitions
  • Special Lectures and Public Lectures
  • Coffee and tea

3. Accompanying Person USD 150 Benefits:

  • Name tag
  • Admittance to the Closing Ceremony and Welcome Reception
  • Access to exhibitions and poster sessions
  • Special Lectures & Public Lectures
  • Coffee and tea

The registration site will be located on the 3rd floor of COEX at Hall D Lobby. To expedite your badge claim process, please bring your "Confirmation of Registration Letter" to the registration site. Onsite registration payment can be made with a credit card or with cash. For further details related to registration, please contact Ms. Amy Chung at

II. ICM Scientific Program The complete lists and schedules of plenary lectures, of invited lectures and of short communications are all available at

III. ICM Satellite Conferences Please visit for a complete list and details of the 51 ICM 2014 Satellite Conferences.

We will keep you updated with the latest information on We have also developed a mobile phone application “SEOUL ICM” for both iOS and Android to further ease the accessibility to all congress information at the tip of your fingers.

DonAuction at ICM 2014

Prior to ICM 2014, on August 2014, the IMU Committee for Developing Countries (CDC) is organizing a 1-day symposium on Mathematics in Emerging Nations: Achievements and Opportunities (MENAO) -- more about this can be found here. The symposium will showcase many initiatives worldwide that seek to foster the growth of strong advanced mathematics communities in developing countries around the world. It will also see the launch of the new CDC initiative: Adopt-a-Mathematics-Graduate-Student. To help this initiative financially, a special "DonAuction" (amalgamating Donation and Auction) will be held during the ICM, from August 13 until August 20, with payments possible online via and also at the ICM, both online (via tablets) or in cash (at the IMU and the Imaginary booths), all in the Exhibition space.
Even people not attending ICM can participate, donate to this CDC project, and possibly win a beautiful mathematical object. More information is at . Please spread the news!

CEIC Notes and Comments

Panel Discussions Scheduled at ICM2014
The Committee on Electronic Information and Communication (CEIC) is organizing three evening panel discussions at the upcoming ICM in Seoul, Korea.

- Panel #1. "Mathematical Massive Open Online Courses" (M-MOOCs)
Monday, August 18, 6:00-7:30pm, Room 402
A discussion of MOOCs and new developments in online education, and their impact on mathematical research, teaching, and education throughout the world.  This session will be held in conjunction with the “How Can We Teach Better” panel organized by ICMI, to be held Monday, August 18, 4:30-6:00pm, Room 402.

Moderator: James Davenport, University of Bath, UK

Bill Barton, The University of Auckland, New Zealand
Robert Ghrist, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Matti Pauna, University of Helsinki, Finland
Angel Ruiz, Universidad de Costa Rica, Costa Rica

- Panel #2. "The Future of Mathematical Publishing"
Tuesday, August 19, 6:00-7:30pm, Room 402
The panel will discuss current issues in mathematical publishing, including such topics as journal rankings and metrics, open access, publishing costs and ethics, the Cost of Knowledge boycott, new models of publishing, epijournals, and related developments.

Moderator: Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, European Research Council, Belgium

Rajendra Bhatia, Indian National Science Academy, India
Jean-Pierre Demailly, Institut Fourier, France
Chris Greenwell, Elsevier, The Netherlands
Thomas Hintermann, European Mathematical Society Publishing House, Switzerland
Nalini Joshi, University of Sydney, Australia
Ravi Vakil, Stanford University, USA

- Panel #3. "The World Digital Mathematics Library" (WDML)
Wednesday, August 20, 6:00-7:30pm, Room 402
A presentation and discussion of the World Digital Mathematics Library, covering recent initiatives funded by the Sloan Foundation, including a workshop at the National Academy of Sciences in 2012 (, a Report issued by the National Research Council in March, 2014 ( and, and future prospects.

Moderator: Peter Olver, University of Minnesota, USA

Ingrid Daubechies, Duke University, USA
Thierry Bouche, Institut Fourier, France
Gert-Martin Greuel, University of Kaiserslautern, Germany
Rajeeva L. Karandikar, Chennai Mathematical Institute, India
June Zhang, Peking University, China

Basic information about the panels can be found at
More details, including descriptions and the detailed Panel Briefs, can be found here.

Ramanujan Prize 2014

The 2014 Ramanujan Prize has been awarded to Miguel Walsh jointly by ICTP, the Department of Science and Technology (DST, Government of India) and the International Mathematical Union (IMU).

The Prize recognizes Walsh's outstanding contributions to Ergodic Theory and Number Theory. A national of Argentina, Walsh obtained his Licenciatura en Matematicas (more or less equivalent to a Master degree) from the University of Buenos Aires in three and a half years, and went on to complete his doctorate in two and half years under the supervision of Roman Sasyk. At 26, Walsh is the youngest recipient of the Ramanujan Prize so far.

More on:

New International Women in Maths Website

In March 2013 the Executive Committee of the IMU approved the establishment of an Advisory Group for Women in Mathematics, charged with creating and overseeing  a section of the IMU website entitled Women in Mathematics (WiM). Opportunities for women vary widely from country to country and a main aim is to enhance the participation of women in all mathematical communities. The new WiM  site will be launched at the ICWM on August 12th just prior to  ICM 2014, at the address
The site includes information about organizations, people, events, resources and initiatives of interest to women mathematicians world-wide.

In order to maximize the usefulness of this site, we welcome suggestions from the IMU community. Indeed, advice concerning items for inclusion is important to us. The Advisory Group  may be contacted at

The WiM Advisory Group: Ingrid Daubechies (Chair) (USA), Petra Bonfert-Taylor (USA), Carla  Cedarbaum (Germany), Nalini Joshi (Australia), Sunsook Noh (Korea), Marie-Françoise Ouedraogo ( Burkina Faso),  Dušanka Periši? (Serbia), Claudia Sagastizábal (Brazil), Caroline Series (UK), and Carol Wood (USA).

Breakthrough Prizes 2014

Five Winners Receive Inaugural Breakthrough Prize In Mathematics:

Simon Donaldson (Stony Brook University and Imperial College London), for the new revolutionary invariants of 4-dimensional manifolds and for the study of the relation between stability in algebraic geometry and in global differential geometry, both for bundles and for Fano varieties.

Maxim Kontsevich, (Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques, France), for work making a deep impact in a vast variety of mathematical disciplines, including algebraic geometry, deformation theory, symplectic topology, homological algebra and dynamical systems. Jacob Lurie (Harvard University), for his work on the foundations of higher category theory and derived algebraic geometry; for the classification of fully extended topological quantum field theories; and for providing a moduli-theoretic interpretation of elliptic cohomology.

Terence Tao (University of California, Los Angeles), for numerous breakthrough contributions to harmonic analysis, combinatorics, partial differential equations and analytic number theory.

Richard Taylor, (Institute for Advanced Study), for numerous breakthrough results in the theory of automorphic forms, including the Taniyama-Weil conjecture, the local Langlands conjecture for general linear groups, and the Sato-Tate conjecture.

The Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics was launched by Mark Zuckerberg and Yuri Milner. It aims to recognize major advances in the field, honor the world’s best mathematicians, support their future endeavors and communicate the excitement of mathematics to general public.

The laureates will be presented with their trophies and $3 million each at the Breakthrough Prize ceremony in November. More on:

ICSU ROLAC Review Panel

Marcelo Viana (IMPA, Brazil and Vice-president of IMU) has been nominated to serve in the Review Panel for ICSU-ROLAC (Regional Office of ICSU for Latin America and the Caribbean).

Pan-African Centre for Mathematics

A Collaborative Project between Stockholm University, Sweden & University of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania

For more information about the Centre, please contact:
Prof. Mohamed El Tom, Khartoum, Sudan,
Prof. Stefan Nordlund, University of Stockholm,
Dr Paul Vaderlind, University of Stockholm,

Ostrowski Prize 2013

The Ostrowski Prize for 2013 is awarded to Professor Yitang Zhang (University of New Hampshire, USA) for his breakthrough work on small gaps between prime numbers.
The presentation of the medal has taken place on June 11 at the University of Waterloo with John Friedlander of the University of Toronto giving the laudation.
More information on:

Kyoto prize 2014

The laureates of the 2014 Kyoto Prize are:

Advanced Technology: Dr. Robert Samuel Langer (U.S.A., Biomedical Engineer)
Basic Sciences: Dr. Edward Witten (U.S.A., Theoretical Physicist)
Arts and Philosophy: Ms. Fukumi Shimura (Japan, Dyeing and Weaving Artist)

The prize presentation ceremony will be held in Kyoto on November 10 this year.
More information on:

A website for advertising jobs

The association EU-MATHS-IN (promoted by the EMS and ECMI) has launched a new service: a website for advertising jobs for mathematicians in companies or institutions working on industrial contracts.
The scope of this website is to advertise jobs in industrial mathematics and related fields.

Please advertise this among all interested people, industrial contacts and/or young mathematicians looking for jobs.

Jobs announcements can be found or deposited at the address:

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