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IMU-Net 69: January 2015

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


Beginning of September 2014, I attended the General Assembly of the International Council for Science (ICSU) in Auckland, New Zealand. The members of ICSU are national members and international scientific unions. Together with Manuel de Leon, I represented IMU at this General Assembly. Cheryl Praeger was also present, representing Australia.

Elections of the coming Executive Board (EB) for the next three years took place during the General Assembly. Three mathematicians were elected on the Executive Board of ICSU: Daya Reddy (South Africa) is the new President-elect (he will become President in 2017), John Ball was renewed as regular member of the EB for the coming three years, and Manuel de Leon was elected regular member of the EB: Manuel de Leon just finished eight years on the Executive Committee of IMU, during which he was the official representative of IMU at ICSU.

The International Council for Science is very little known among mathematicians. To my opinion, ICSU deserves to be better known, and this is why we will try to have a regular item on ICSU in each IMU Newsletter. ICSU's mission is to strengthen international science for the benefit of society. It promotes freedom and responsibility in the conduct of science, and IMU often refers to ICSU's statements when dealing with infringements to human or scientific rights. ICSU is also very involved in science and policy to ensure that science is integrated into international policy development. For that reason, the General Assembly was preceded by a two-day "Science Advice to Government Conference" (see Also, ICSU has increased its involvement in supporting research on understanding the planetary issues of climate change and sustainability, adapting to them, and linking research on the matter with policy. This has led to the creation of the 10 years initiative, Future Earth, which is the flagship program of ICSU. The past president, Yuan Tseh Lee, committed a lot of energy during his mandate to do fund raising for supporting Future Earth. I discussed with Frans Berkhout, the interim Director of Future Earth, and we are both convinced that mathematical sciences have an important role to play in Future Earth. The General Assembly is preceded by a one day meeting of the scientific unions, which is an opportunity of meeting our sister unions, learn about their activities and priorities, and start networking for joint activities.

The General Assembly of ICSU contains some invited scientific lectures. I was especially struck by the lecture of Nancy Bertler from the Antarctic Research Centre of New Zealand. We regularly hear about the sea rise during the 21st century. This rise has two origins: the melting of glaciers and the thermic expansion of the oceans. The melting of glaciers could produce an incredible amount of additional water: if all Antarctica and Greenland's glaciers were to melt, we could have a rise of the oceans of the order of 70 meters. What saves us in the short term is that the glaciers cannot melt so fast. But pay attention next time you hear the  forecasts of sea rise: they never go past 2100! The lecture of Nancy Bertler dealt with a new potential component of the climate change, namely the potential "collapse" of Antarctica.
Because of the enormous weight of Antarctica's glaciers, most of the floor of these glaciers is below sea level. Hence, there is a potential of water penetrating under the glacier and causing the breaking the big pieces that would end floating and hence, rise the sea level. The recent studies conclude that such collapses could lead to a sea rise of 4 to 8 meters before the end of the century, much higher than the forecast of 0.5-1 meter rise in the last IPCC report. All climate studies rely on mathematical modelling. We, as mathematicians, develop tools to study models. But, what should be included in the models? This is one of the big challenge of climate science, which requires our collaboration with the other disciplines.

Christiane Rousseau.
Ordinary member of the Executive Committee of IMU

Call for nominations for the Program Committee of ICM 2018

The next ICM will take place in Rio de Janeiro in 2018. The General Assembly of the IMU decided at its recent meeting in Gyeongju, Korea, that "The IMU Adhering Organizations should be invited to make suggestions for possible members of the Program Committee.", see Resolution 7 at

The community is hereby invited to propose members for the PC for ICM 2018 and to forward them to IMU through an Adhering Organization.

Please note that members of recent Program Committees are not eligible (a list of all former PCs can be found here). 
Guidelines for the PC are given at

A proposal should include a brief letter of recommendation as well as a CV of the candidates [pdf-format only]. Candidates should not be contacted prior to the nomination, as the composition of the PC (except its chair) will only be made public at the ICM2018. The deadline is March 1, 2015, and proposals should be sent by an Adhering Organization to

CEIC Notes and Comments: ArXiv millionth paper

A relatively quiet, but notable, milestone was celebrated this past fall, as managers of at Cornell University counted the 1 millionth research article uploaded to the server. For mathematicians, the arXiv preprint server is a vibrant resource, showing continued growth in use by this discipline. Currently 28.8% of submitted papers are in mathematics or mathematical physics, and 15.1% are in computer science. More information on growth by topic at

Originally supported by Cornell University Library (CUL), arXiv has moved to a collaboratively governed, community-supported resource. Indeed, the growth of arXiv has led to new needs in underlying  technology, as well as a plan for sustaining the service, which requires permanent staff and a $1M budget.  In the new model, effective January 2013, arXiv is supported by libraries and research laboratories worldwide that represent arXiv's heaviest users, as well as by CUL and by generous matching funds from the Simons Foundation. See:

For a useful retrospective on these developments, a listing of the Membership Advisory Board and Scientific Advisory Board of arXiv, as well as a sketch of financials associated with the support structure, please see Cornell’s press release, and associated links:

Ramanujan Prize 2015: call for nominations

The Ramanujan Prize for young mathematicians from developing countries has been awarded annually since 2005. It is now funded by the DST (India) and administered by ICTP, the IMU and the DST. For the 2015 prize, April 15th, 2015 is the deadline for nominations.
Nominations are to be sent to

The call can be found at

Call for nominations for the ICMI Executive Committee for 2018-2021

Nominations are invited for the following positions on the Executive Committee of the International Commission of Mathematical Instruction (ICMI): President, Secretary-General, Vice-Presidents, and Members at large. Each Adhering Organisation may submit only one name for each of the positions of President and Secretary-General of ICMI. All submissions should be sent via email or regular mail to Professor Gilah Leder, the appointed Chair of the Nomination Committee, to  Each submission should state in what capacity the nominator is submitting his/her proposal (Chair of Adhering Organization, Chair of a National Committee, etc.).  Each nomination must be accompanied by the proposed candidate’s CV and by a declaration of willingness to serve if elected. The nominations for President and Secretary-General must be received by April 1st, 2015, and the nominations for the other positions must be received by June 1st, 2015. Only Adhering Organisations from Member Countries of ICMI are eligible to submit nominations.

Heidelberg Laureate Forum

Reminder: Young computer scientists and mathematicians from all over the world can apply for one of the 200 coveted spots to participate in Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF), an annual networking event. The HLF offers all accepted young researchers the great opportunity to personally meet the winners of the most prestigious prizes in their fields. For one week, the recipients of the Abel Prize, the ACM A.M. Turing Award, the Fields Medal, and the Nevanlinna Prize engage in a cross-generational scientific dialogue with young researchers in Heidelberg, Germany. Applications must be submitted online at: by February 28, 2015.
For more information, please visit:

International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015

The United Nations have declared 2015, the International Year of Light and light-based technologies (IYL2015): The Opening Ceremony took place at UNESCO on January 19-20 2015:

The theme of light has many connections with mathematics and you could consider using the opportunity of this international year to highlight the contributions of mathematics in the study of light and its applications. If you are inspired and decide to organize to organize some event related to mathematics and light, then consider also posting it on the IYL2015 website by clicking on "Submit an event" at

Here are some relations between light and mathematics, from elementary ones to be used in education to more advanced ones in research. Fermat's principle states that the path of a ray of light between two points is the path that can be traversed in the least time: this principle unifies the laws of reflection and refraction. Mirrors having the shape of conics and optical lens are sources of nice mathematical problems. Optical fibers are now widely used in worldwide communications. Interference between beams of light are at the origin of iridescence. Mathematical modelling allows producing holograms with laser beams. Laser filamentation, a nonlinear regime, has potential applications in atmospheric remote sensing and lightning guiding. The 2014 Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry were both related to light. The Nobel Prize in Physics celebrated the invention of blue light-emitting diodes, which has allowed bright and energy-saving white light sources, thus contributing to energy saving. The achievements of the winners of the Nobel Chemistry Prize allow to now peer in the nanoworld.

New members and associate members of IMU in 2014

In 2015, IMU has been very happy to welcome the following new members and associate members:

New members:
Ecuador, upgrade from Associate Member, as of June 2014

New associate members:
Gabon, as of June 2014
Papua New Guinea, as of September 2014
Senegal, as of September 2014

The objectives of IMU are:
1. To promote international cooperation in science
2. To support and assist the  International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) and other international scientific meetings and conferences
3. To encourage and support other international mathematical activities considered likely to contribute to the development of mathematical science in any of its aspects, pure, applied or educational.

The instructions for joining IMU as a member or associate member can be found here.
If your country explores joining IMU, do not hesitate contacting us for discussing the matter (

Mathematics in Africa: new AIMS chairs

New AIMS chairs sponsored by the German Government

AIMS, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, is a pan-African initiative for post-graduate training and research in mathematics. The first AIMS centers were established in South Africa and Senegal.  

The German Ministry of Education and Research has established a program to fund German Research Chairs at different AIMS institutes. The first such chair was filled at AIMS-Senegal in 2012, see Four other mathematics chairs will successively follow in Ghana, Cameroon, Tanzania and South Africa.  

The selection process for the positions to be filled is accompanied by the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation (AvH).The advertisement for the position at AIMS-Ghana will be posted on AvH's  Website by mid or end February 2015.
Interested candidates may contact the AvH any time at

A Newsletter for IMAGINARY

IMAGINARY, originally an an open-source traveling exhibition to popularize mathematics, has turned into a comprehensive platform to support math communication. All those working on math outreach are invited to join the new "Math Communication Network" initiated by IMAGINARY. This network aims to provide services to exhibitors, museums, performers, freelance math-artists, etc. See for more information.

In particular, there is a newsletter for the network with all the relevant news in the math communication field. Additionally, IMAGINARY has its own dedicated newsletter for the news and projects of the IMAGINARY exhibitions. Check to read latest issues and to subscribe to both newsletters.

IMAGINARY is a project by the Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach and supported by the Klaus Tschira Stiftung.

2014 Kyoto Prize

The 2014 Kyoto Prize for Basic Sciences has been awarded to Professor Edward Witten (Institute for Advanced Study, USA) for his "Outstanding Contributions to the Development of Mathematical Sciences through the Exploration of Superstring Theory".
The Kyoto Prize Presentation Ceremony has been held at the Kyoto International Conference Center in Kyoto, Japan, on November 10, 2014.

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Previous issues can be seen here.