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IMU-Net 75: January 2016

A Bimonthly Email Newsletter from the International Mathematical Union
Editor: Martin Raussen, Aalborg University, Denmark

Editorial: Learning about the Work of the IMU

Before I was elected to the Executive Committee of the IMU at the meeting of the General Assembly in Korea, I had only experienced the work of the organization as a participant in international congresses. I've since learned of the many projects that the IMU is involved with, beyond the challenge of organizing the next ICM in Rio. The challenge of representing and serving the extremely diverse national mathematical societies is a daunting one, and members on the staff in Berlin, not to mention the secretary, Helge Holden, and the president, Shigefumi Mori, all work tirelessly on our behalf.
I've been particularly impressed with the presence that the IMU maintains in larger scientific societies, and with the work that the IMU does in supporting mathematics in developing countries. I was very fortunate to have been educated at Harvard and Oxford, where I came into contact with some of the leading mathematicians of our time as a student. With sponsored conferences and travel grants, we can now make these opportunities available to young mathematicians around the world. I feel that we have to foster even more international contact in the years ahead. Mathematics is a universal language, which can bring us together in fractious times.
One vehicle for contact and information is this newsletter, the IMU-Net. I've been asked to serve as the liaison from the Executive Committee to our new editor, Martin Raussen. Fortunately, I've had the chance to work with the previous liaison, Christiane Rousseau, and the previous editor, Mireille Chaleyat, for several months to see how the IMU-Net is put together. They have both done an outstanding job, and all of us who are involved with the IMU owe them out thanks. I also want to thank Martin, who already is serving as the Vice President of the European Math Society, for taking on this new editorial task.

Benedict H. Gross

CEIC: Notes and Comments

GDML-WG activity
The CEIC's Global Digital Mathematical Library Working Group (GDML-WG) has been involved in organizing events encouraging community involvement in progress toward a GDML.  At the January 2016 Joint Mathematics Meetings in Seattle there was an AMS Special Session on “Mathematical Information in the Digital Age of Science'' with 11 hours of talks by 18 speakers on a wide range of topics relevant to the GDML effort.  The speakers included 2 Fields Medalists, a past-President of the IMU, the prover of the Kepler Conjecture and the discoverers of a new convex pentagonal plane tiling, as well as representatives of publishing, libraries and technology. The next event involves the GDML-WG with the Wolfram Foundation and the Fields Institute in a Workshop on the Semantic Representation of Mathematics to be held February 3-5, 2016 at Fields.  This is intended to begin collaboration toward developing a computable semantic capture language for mathematics.  There will also be a special session of 4 lectures at the upcoming 7ECM in Berlin, July, 2016 (see Item 8 of this Newsletter).

MathJax and MathML
- beautiful math in all browsers! That's the motto of MathJax, a tool used to display mathematics on web pages millions of times a day. MathJax is an open-source JavaScript display engine for LaTeX, MathML, and AsciiMath notation that works in all browsers. In 2009, the AMS, Design Science and SIAM formed the MathJax Consortium to enable Davide Cervone, with the help of Robert Miner at Design Science, to design MathJax from the ground up, capitalizing on the extensive real-world experience gained from Cervone's earlier jsMath.  Robert Miner was co-chair of the W3C Math Working Group that had developed MathML, Mathematics Markup Language, an XML vocabulary for representing mathematics on the web. MathML was the first specialist XML vocabulary for a specific subject and now a full ISO standard.

A problem for MathML has always been that mathematics, and indeed scientific and technical documents, make up so little of total web traffic.   As a result, Web browser makers have not expended the resources necessary to provide full support for MathML rendering. They are much more interested by the needs of advertising, say, for graphics or by inclusion of video or audio.  Thus MathJax was first seen partly as a way to bridge the gap until better native browser implementations for MathML were available.

MathJax software is a tour de force of programming in JavaScript.  Roughly speaking, it takes input notation and converts it into an internal form of MathML; then that internal representation is converted, if the browser has no direct MathML rendering, into an HTML form styled with CSS and making use of modern Web font technology since mathematics employs special symbols and many alphabets; finally the browser's own rendering engine paints the screen. Since TeX is a fully capable programming language MathJax does not provide an interpreter for all TeX input, but does support most of the common LaTeX constructions and even a variety of customizations by users.

MathJax is software that thousands of mathematicians today see writing the equations on their screen.  MathML is a standard that is coherent with other Web and commercial XML standards.   Thus MathML is employed by publishers and database services, such as MathSciNet and zbMATH or Wolfram Functions and NIST's DLMF, when they want to represent their equations in a publicly accepted standard form.  MathML offers both markup for the presentation of formulas and some designed to express the content's semantics for, roughly, school-level mathematics.  A better machinable markup expressing semantic aspects for mathematics at large, in its various natural levels from informal to fully formalized, is the concern, for instance, of the workshop mentioned above under GDML-WG Activity.
Report by Patrick Ion (University of Michigan, USA)

ICM 2018

From August 1st to 9th, 2018, Rio de Janeiro will host the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) in its largest and most traditional convention center: Riocentro, in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood. Subscription to the Congress Newsletter is now open.
The General Assembly of the IMU will be held in São Paulo, on July 29 – 30, 2018.

IMU-CDC: New secretary for policy introduces herself

I teach at the University of Valencia (UV, Spain) where I am Full Professor. My main research interest is in Geometric Analysis, with particular emphasis in variational problems involving the volume and the energy functionals.
During four years, 2010-2014, I served as Vice-Rector for International Relations and Cooperation at the UV. This gave me the opportunity to make contacts with an important number of universities in Developing Countries, many of them in the Mediterranean Area and in America.
I have been working for mathematical societies during the past 15 years; in particular for the Royal Spanish Mathematical Society, as Vice-president from 2004 and as President from October 2006 to October 2009 and also for the European Mathematical Society, as a member of the Executive Committee (2005-2008).
I became aware of the importance of the IMU when the Spanish mathematical community had been involved in the organization of the ICM06 in Madrid. Later on, being part of the Spanish Committee for the IMU (as a member from October 2006 and as President from 2008 to 2010) has allowed me to appreciate better the variety of activities that IMU supports. Now that I have been given the opportunity of helping the IMU acting as the Secretary for Policy of the CDC, I am delighted and grateful for this challenging task.
I am enthusiastically joining the Commission and very proud of working together with this team of experienced colleagues, in particular with its President Wandera Ogana, and maintaining the very successful programs that you are invited to follow on the CDC webpage. During the past months, the Commission has been drawing up a plan for an important new program: the IMU Breakout Graduate Fellowships. I will write in a future Newsletter about this project that will hopefully be implemented during 2016. 
Olga Gil-Medrano
Secretary for Policy of the CDC

Workshop “Global change impact on diseases and alien species expansion”

The workshop will take place at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), in Cape Town, South Africa on May 2-6 2016. This website accepts applications. African participants will receive full funding.

This international, interdisciplinary, educational and capacity building workshop will bring together the two subjects of infectious diseases and invasive species and the context of climate change, thus allowing sharing the methods and building partnerships. The workshop will address the whole range of topics from field-work and collecting of data to the building and validating of models, to the adjustment of models to take into account the changing environment and the social characteristics, and to the design and implementation of strategies to fight infectious diseases and invasive species. Special emphasis will be put on African diseases and invasive species, as well as the characteristics of changing environment in Africa.

The workshop planned for 50 participants is mostly aimed to young researchers and postgraduate students, with a majority coming from Africa.

Organizers: Jacek Banasiak (South Africa)
Christiane Rousseau (Canada)

International AAS/AMU Symposium

The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) in collaboration with African Mathematical Union (AMU) and the UNESCO Chair of Mathematics - National Mathematical Centre, Abuja-Nigeria, will host an International AAS/AMU Symposium at the National Mathematical Centre, Abuja-Nigeria between May 16-20, 2016 on “Current Research Trends in the Mathematical Sciences and Applications".  For details, please contact Prof. A. O. Kuku (AAS-President) ( and Prof. ART Solarin (AMU – President)

V Congreso latinoamericano de matemáticos

The V Congreso latinoamericano de matemáticos under the auspices of Unión Matemática de América Latina y el Caribe (UMALCA) takes place in the period July 11-15, 2016, at the Universidad del Norte, Barrranquilla, Columbia.

7ECM 2016

The quadrennial Congress of the European Mathematical Society, 7ECM, will be held in Berlin, Germany, July 18 - 22, 2016. The program contains ten plenary Lectures, 31 invited Lectures, several prize lectures, the Hirzebruch Lecture, the Abel Lecture and much more. 100 grants will be offered to mathematicians from less developed countries. All abstracts and proposals must be submitted via the 7ECM registration platform. Early registration ends on 31 March 2016.
The event is preceded by the Council of the European Mathematical Society at Humboldt University, Berlin, on July 16-17.

Calls from the AMSSI

The African Mathematics Millennium Science Initiative has as its mission to nurture the next generation of African mathematicians and mathematical leadership. It has open calls for

  • The AMMSI-Phillip Griffiths Prize which is to be awarded annually, starting in 2016, to an African mathematician, living in Africa, who has made outstanding contribution to mathematics, application of mathematics or promotion of mathematics, as evidenced by research and its impact. The award comprises a certificate with a citation on the winner’s scientific achievement as well as a cash prize of USD 6,000.
  • The AMMSI-Phillip Griffiths Travel Grant which is to be awarded annually, starting 2016, to an African mathematician, living in Africa, to enable him or her visit an international research partner for a period of 1 to 3 months. In case of matching support from the host institution, the period may be extended as appropriate. The program is designed to offer the opportunity for research to mathematicians in the early stages of their professional careers.

Both the prize and the travel grant have been made possible through a grant to AMMSI by Professor Phillip Griffiths occasioned by his reception of the Chern Prize in 2014.

  • Mentoring African Research in Mathematics (MARM): The London Mathematical Society (LMS) and the IMU in association with the AMMSI are seeking applications for grants to support mathematics and its teaching in universities in Africa. Four mentoring partnerships are to be awarded, each for a duration of two years. The MARM awards will focus on building infrastructure and networking in mathematics in Africa.

For more information, nomination and application procedures see this page.

Abel Prize 2016: Announcement

The name of the 2016 Abel Laureate will be announced by the President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters on 15 March 2016 at 11 am GMT.

Data in ICSU

We live immersed in a world of data, those we generate ourselves (sometimes without being aware of it) with our cellphones, credit cards and social networks, as well as those that arise from research: laboratories, space missions and observations of every kind. This immense amount of data is only transformed into useful information when it is filtered and analyzed and its patterns identified. This is precisely the new paradigm we have christened with the name of Big Data. We as mathematicians have a whole world at our fingertips in order to conduct research and produce new algorithms, a field which in the coming decades can lead to great opportunities of employment for young people.

So science is unable to function without data, which in themselves are an essential part of the ICSU, the International Council of Science. There are three committees (in the group known as the Interdisciplinary Bodies), whose aim is to observe how the different aspects of our world undergo development and which perhaps are not very well known by the mathematical community. Their task is very important as regards international, national and regional scientific policy. These observations of course contribute to the ever-increasing generation of data.   The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) was created in 1992 with the aim of providing comprehensive information about the global climate system by monitoring the climate and the impact of climate change, especially in regard to the Earth’s ecosystems and sea levels.

The Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) was set up in 1993 for the purpose of observing the state of the oceans and their conditions in order to predict how they may evolve and to study their effect on climate change.
The Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) was created in 1996 with the task of observing the quality of the Earth, the access to water resources, the loss of diversity, climate change and the impact of contamination and toxicity. 

The GCOS, GOOS and GTOS provide collections of data and promote the development of international standards and methodologies to ensure a universal and equitable access to data. 

The ICSU completes the circle of the observations with mechanisms designed to oversee the production, use and integration of the data and information generated, so that good use is made of them and to ensure that they are available to all. The institutions charged with this task (some devoted to a particular scientific domain, others dealing with a broad range of interests for the whole community) are as follows:

Formed in 2008, the ICSU World Data System (WDS) is the institution belonging to the ICSU World Data Centres (WDCs) and the ICSU Federation of Astronomical and Geophysical Data-analysis Services. The WDS is composed of 91 Member organizations, including 10 Network Members, 4 Partner Members and 18 Associate Members.
The Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) was created in 1966 with the responsibility for promoting best practice in the management and use of scientific data.

Set up in 1992, the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) is a network whose aim is to improve access to scientific information and knowledge as well as promoting its flow across different countries, especially those in the process of development.

The Scientific Committee on Frequency Allocations for Radio Astronomy and Space Science (IUCAF) was formed in 1960 for the purpose of studying and coordinating requirements for the distribution of radio frequencies and for making them known to the responsible national and international institutions.

Report by Manuel de Leon (Madrid, Spain)

Mireille Chaleyat –Maurel and Wolfgang Dalitz are retiring from IMU

IMU-Net was launched in September 2003 and Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel has been the editor since the beginning. For more than 12 years, she collected the most significant news and informations for the world mathematical community. And, working in team with a member of the Executive Committee, she put together the content of each issue of IMU-Net. Together with Wolfgang Dalitz, they took care of assembling and managing the long list of more than 10,000 subscribers to IMU-Net. Wolfgang Dalitz was sending each issue of IMU-Net.

Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel has been serving IMU for decades.. She was responsible of the website of the World Mathematical Year 2000 and, together with Minella Alarcon from Basic and Engineering Sciences at UNESCO, the driving force behind the exhibition "Experiencing Mathematics", which has circulated in many countries with the support of UNESCO. More recently, she was the local organizer of the Mathematics of Planet Earth Day on March 5 2013, which was hosted by IMU at UNESCO.

Wolfgang Dalitz has been working for IMU since 1994 when he was involved in the organization of the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM’98) in Berlin. Since then, he has performed various functions at IMU, including providing the technical background and email distribution for IMU-Net.  

IMU expresses its warmest thanks to Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel and Wolfgang Dalitz for years of dedicated service to IMU.

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