3 July 2009
The Council meeting in July marked the beginning of a period of reflection. The main business was to start thinking about the way forward, following the resignations of the President and Treasurer (as reported in July’s Newsletter), and the subsequent rejection by members of the proposal for a new mathematical society with the IMA. Council was delighted that Sir John Ball FRS has taken on the role of Interim President until the Council elections in November.
Over the next nine months, Council will be reviewing all the activities of the Society and determining its strategic priorities for the coming years. We need to think about how the Society sees its future and the role it will play in promoting and advancing mathematics. How we develop our collaboration with the IMA and other bodies is an important part of this, and Council will also focus on wider issues of working for the benefit of mathematics, including mathematical research and mathematics education. It is anticipated that Council will hold a Retreat at the beginning of next year to consider this in depth.
Budgetary considerations will also feed into the above strategic discussions. The economic downturn continues to hit not only the Society’s investments, but also other sources of income, such as that from room hire, and the long-term future of publications income remains uncertain. At the same time, our expenditure is ever-increasing owing to inflation and the wide range of activities undertaken by the Society.
Members have an important role to play as the Society maps out its plans. A consultation (whose precise form has yet to be decided) is planned, and views on the direction the Society should be taking will be welcome. Council is also keen to increase the membership of the Society, and members’ thoughts on how we can achieve this would be helpful.
Council also heard about recent meetings of the Council for the Mathematical Sciences and a very successful gathering of Presidents of Mathematical Societies under the auspices of the European Mathematical Society. A common theme in these meetings was the need to champion the cause of ’blue skies’ research, developing a vision for the future of mathematics and promoting this to politicians, policy makers and the public.
APPOINTMENT OF INTERIM PRESIDENT AND TREASURER
Council is pleased to announce that Sir John Ball, FRS, Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy, University of Oxford, will take on the role of President in place of Professor Brian Davies, FRS, who resigned in May on the grounds of ill-health. Sir John will serve as President until the Society’s Annual General Meeting on 20 November 2009.
Dr Brian Stewart, of Exeter College, Oxford, and the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, will take on the role of Treasurer, in place of Professor Nick Woodhouse, also serving to 20 November 2009.
FUTURE COLLABORATION BETWEEN THE SOCIETY AND THE IMA
The Council of the London Mathematical Society (LMS) met on 3 July 2009 after the Special General Meetings on 21 April and 29 May which led to the rejection of the motion to create a new unified mathematical society with the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA).
Council confirmed that it would continue to develop its fruitful and positive collaboration with the IMA. The Council will seek to strengthen those links and its cooperation with other bodies in mathematical sciences, as part of the Council for the Mathematical Sciences and as a member of the Science Council. It will endeavour to ensure that the views and interests of mathematics in its widest form are voiced and reflected in matters of policy for mathematics, mathematics research and mathematics education.
The London Mathematical Society has elected Professor Charles Fefferman of Princeton University, USA, and Professor László Lovász of Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary, to Honorary Membership of the Society.
Professor Charles Fefferman’s contributions and ideas have had impact on the development of modern analysis, differential equations, mathematical physics and geometry, with his most recent work including his sharp (computable) solution of the Whitney extension problem.
Professor László Lovász has helped to develop the areas of graph theory, combinatorics and theoretical computer science. Lovász has also contributed to the mathematical community in other ways, for example, by serving as President of the International Mathematical Union.
Full citations for Professor Fefferman and Professor Lovász will appear in the LMS Bulletin.
LMS PRIZES 2009
The winners of the LMS prizes for 2009 were announced at the Society Meeting on 3 July. The Society extends its congratulations to the winners, and its thanks to all nominators, referees and members of the Prizes Committee for their contributions to the Committee’s work this year.
PROFESSOR ROGER HEATH-BROWN, FRS, of the University of Oxford, is awarded the Pólya Prize for his many contributions within analytic number theory, and his dynamic application of analytic methods in wide-ranging investigations of problems spanning number theory and arithmetic geometry.
PROFESSOR VLADIMIR MAZ’YA, FRSE, of the University of Liverpool, is awarded the Senior Whitehead Prize in recognition of his contributions to the theory of differential equations.
PROFESSOR PHILIP MAINI, of the University of Oxford, is awarded the Naylor Prize and Lectureship in Applied Mathematics in recognition of his contributions to, and influence on, the field of mathematical biology.
DR MIHALIS DAFERMOS, of the University of Cambridge, is awarded a Whitehead Prize for his work on the rigorous analysis of hyperbolic partial differential equations in general relativity.
DR CORNELIA DRUTU, of the University of Oxford, is awarded a Whitehead Prize for her work in geometric group theory.
PROFESSOR ROBERT MARSH, of the University of Leeds, is awarded a Whitehead Prize for his work on representation theory and especially for his research on cluster categories and cluster algebras.
DR MARKUS OWEN, of the University of Nottingham, is awarded a Whitehead Prize for his contributions to the development of multi-scale modelling approaches in systems medicine and biology.
HARDY LECTURERS 2010 AND 2012
The 2010 Hardy Lecturer will be Professor Hiraku Nakajima of the Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Kyoto University, Japan. He will be lecturing in Edinburgh, Leeds, Oxford and London – the programme is being finalised and will be advertised in the Newsletter in due course.
Nominations are now sought for a Hardy Lecturer in 2012
The Hardy Lecturer visits the UK for a period of about two weeks, and gives the Hardy Lecture at a Society meeting, normally held in London in July. The Lecturer will also give at least two other lectures, on different topics, at other venues in the UK. The schedule is decided by the Programme Secretary in consultation with the President and the Lecturer, and will be designed to allow as many UK mathematicians as possible to benefit from the Lecturer’s presence in the UK.
The Lecturer shall be a mathematician who has not been normally resident in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for a period of at least five years, at the time of the award. Grounds for the award of the Lectureship include:
The LMS will pay travel expenses for the Hardy Lecturer, together with initial and final travel expenses for a spouse or established partner. The host department(s) will be expected to provide office accommodation and the academic support normally offered to a distinguished visitor.
Nominations must have the support of the host department(s), and should be sent by the head of department to the Society’s Executive Secretary, at the London Mathematical Society, De Morgan House, 57–58 Russell Square, London WC1B 4HS. In order to give time for a proper consideration of nominees, proposals should arrive by 31 January 2010. The nominations will be considered by the Programme Committee, which will bring a recommendation to Council in March 2010.
LMS GRANT SCHEMES
Readers are reminded of the Society’s Schemes to provide conference grants (Scheme 1), grants to visitors to the UK (Scheme 2), grants to support joint research groups (Scheme 3), collaborative small grants (Scheme 4), international short visits (Scheme 5), and grants for postgraduate research conferences (Scheme 8).
For full details of these Schemes please see the Society’s website (www.lms.ac.uk/grants). Queries regarding applications can be addressed to the Programme Secretary, Stephen Huggett (tel: 01752 586869, email: email@example.com) or the Grants Administrator, Sylvia Daly (tel: 020 7291 9971, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Wednesday–Friday) who will be pleased to discuss proposals informally with potential applicants and give advice on the submission of an application.
The next deadline for receipt of applications is 15 September 2009, and these will be considered at a meeting on 8 October 2009. Applications should be submitted well in advance of the date of the event for which funding is requested. Normally grants are not made for events which have already happened or where insufficient time has been allowed for processing of the application.
Information on other grant schemes operated by the Society, for education, the mathematics/computer-science interface, and childcare, is also available at www.lms.ac.uk/grants.
I have great pleasure in announcing that, beginning in 2010, the LMS will be publishing the journal Mathematika on behalf of its owner, University College London.
Mathematika publishes both pure and applied mathematical articles and has done so continuously since its founding by Harold Davenport in the 1950s. So far, it has not been published online, but from next year all articles, including the full archive dating back to 1954, will be available electronically via Cambridge Journals Online.
Readers are invited to submit papers to Mathematika via the LMS submissions web page at www.lms.ac.uk/publications/submission.html. The traditional emphasis has been towards the purer side of mathematics, but applied mathematics and articles addressing both aspects are equally welcome.
The Mathematika Editorial Board is: Keith Ball, Imre Bárány, Marianna Csörnyei, Timothy Gowers, Francis Johnson, Minhyong Kim, Yaroslav Kurylev, Imre Leader, Peter McMullen, David Preiss, Frank Smith, Alex Sobolev, Jean-Marc Vanden-Broeck and Robert Vaughan.
LMS JOURNAL OF COMPUTATION AND MATHEMATICS
The LMS Journal of Computation and Mathematics (JCM), the LMS all-electronic open-access journal, will be hosted by Cambridge University Press from 2010. The archive dating back to 1998 as well as new articles will be available free of charge to all via the CUP website.
The JCM publishes high-quality research and expository articles in all areas where mathematics and computation meet. The journal supports electronic add-ons (such as program code, graphics and databases). Papers are subjected to a peer-review process to the same high standards as other LMS journals. The copyright to all material remains vested in the authors.
Readers are invited to submit papers to the LMS JCM via its homepage www.lms.ac.uk/jcm.
ANNUAL LMS SUBSCRIPTION 2009–10
Members are reminded that their annual subscription, including payment for publications, for the period November 2009 – October 2010 is due on 1 November 2009. The renewal form is included with this (printed) edition of the Newsletter and should be completed and returned with remittance in the enclosed envelope.
The annual subscription to the London Mathematical Society for 2009–10 is:
The member prices of the Society’s periodicals for 2010 are:
(*inclusive of VAT)
Members now have the choice of taking an electronic subscription to the Bulletin, Journal or Proceedings of the LMS at a discount of 20% on the standard price for a print subscription. Alternatively, members may receive both the print and electronic versions for an additional 20% above the price of the print subscription. Once an order for an electronic version has been processed by the LMS, your email address will be passed to Oxford University Press who will contact you with details on how to access the journals.
No action is required if you are already paying by direct debit, and do not wish to change your choice of publications. Fully complete and return the subscription form if you are paying by direct debit but wish to change your choice of publications or add/delete a subscription to the European Mathematical Society. Bank accounts of members paying by direct debit will be debited with the appropriate amount on 15 January 2010. If a member with a UK bank account wishes to start paying by direct debit, a mandate can be requested by email (email@example.com) or downloaded from the LMS website at www.lms.ac.uk/contact/DDform.pdf. Other members should either enclose a cheque (£ Sterling or US$) or provide credit card details.
MATHEMATICS POLICY ROUND-UP
A-level targets increased
The increases in the number of students choosing mathematics A-level have been so great that the government has raised its target for entries. In 2006 the government set a target of 56,000 entries to the mathematics A-level by 2014 in its Science and innovation investment framework 2004–2014: next steps document. In 2006 there had been about 46,000 English entries for mathematics A-level. By 2008, the target had already been reached, prompting the government to announce in June this year that it would be raising the mathematics target to 80,000 entries by 2014. Professor Celia Hoyles, Director of the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics, said: "The fact that the current target has been met early is testament to the great work that teachers of mathematics have been doing to encourage pupils to stay on and do mathematics A-Level."
MPs’ science scrutiny committee rescued
Fears that the Parliamentary scrutiny of science and technology would be diminished in the recent shake-up of government departments have been quelled, following the creation of a new Science and Technology Commons Select Committee. In June, prime minister Gordon Brown merged the former Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills with the former Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to create the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. MPs argued that a separate Science and Technology Select Committee was vital for cross-departmental scrutiny to ensure that policy decisions are based on good scientific and engineering advice. Usually, select committees are linked directly to a government department. Membership of the former Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills (IUSS) Select Committee will transfer directly to the new committee, chaired by Phil Willis, MP. The new committee will be created on 1 October 2009.
Putting Science and Engineering at the Heart of Government Policy
In a report published in July entitled Putting Science and Engineering at the Heart of Government Policy, MPs said the failure to find a stable home for the Government Office for Science has reduced science and engineering advice to, at best, a peripheral policy concern, and, at worst, a political bargaining chip. The Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills (IUSS) Select Committee directly appealed to the Prime Minister to bring GO-Science (the Government Office for Science) into the Cabinet Office and it urges the creation of a Government Chief Engineer and a Government Chief Scientist. Other key points included:
Welcoming the report, Sir David Wallace, chair of the Council for the Mathematical Sciences, added, "The committee recommended that increased focus in applied research and industrial follow-through should not be at the expense of blue-skies research, which is one of the UK’s greatest strengths. This is particularly true in the mathematical sciences, where the timescale between fundamental research and its application can be many years, decades or even centuries."
To read the report visit http://is.gd/1OCtF.
Extra undergraduate places for mathematical sciences
Business Secretary Lord Mandelson announced that there would be 10,000 extra new places created at English universities for students who want to study mathematics, science, technology and engineering. The places would be allocated by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), following a squeeze on places due to a massive increase in applications. However, confusion ensued as it emerged that universities would receive the students’ tuition fees and that the students would be offered the usual financial support packages such as loans and grants, but that that universities would be expected to meet teaching costs from existing budgets. The problem was further compounded just a couple of days later when HEFCE announced it would be cutting its English universities’ teaching budget by 1.36% next year to save £65 million. At the time of writing, it was not clear to which institutions the extra places would be allocated.
Ensuring new financial regulations are based on sound mathematics
In June, the Council for the Mathematical Sciences wrote to Lord Turner, chairman of the Financial Services Authority, requesting a meeting to discuss how the mathematical sciences should contribute towards the new framework being created to regulate the City. Urging him to ensure new plans are as robust as possible, Sir David Wallace, CMS chairman, wrote, "Mathematics is surely the only medium capable of describing quantitatively the complex nature of the products that traders, risk managers, etc. are handling, and the economic environment which they are operating in and influencing." The letter attracted interest from the Financial Times, which reported on it on 10 June, and Lord Turner has since contacted the CMS to discuss future involvement with the financial mathematics community.
Use of Mathematics A-level
As the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority consultation on proposed changes to mathematics at A-level closed, a controversy over the planned Use of Mathematics A-level spilled into the media. The course is designed for students who need to be able to apply mathematical methods rather than focus on theory. Right-of-centre think-tank Reform published a report, backed by 64 UK academics, criticising the A-level on several counts. It said the Use of Mathematics A-level would not provide sufficiently challenging or broad content to be adequate preparation for higher education; would dilute A-level Mathematics teaching quality; would cannibalise A-level Mathematics as students are encouraged to do the ’easier’ qualification and would disadvantage students in the poorest schools as universities continue to insist on A-level Mathematics. The LMS and IMA issued a press statement saying that the qualification was not intended for those planning further study in a mathematically-rich subject and should be clearly labelled as such. The societies believed that the A-level, rather than diluting current Mathematics A-level, would strengthen it and in fact enable more students to carry on studying mathematics beyond A-level. LMS vice-president Professor Alice Rogers said, "While we currently have allegedly equal A-levels in a vast range of subjects I think the proposal represents the best way forward."
To see the Reform report and the LMS response visit http://is.gd/1OCvd.
The Maths Inside
For the third year, the LMS–IMA Mathematics Promotion Unit worked with scientists who are showcasing their work at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. The Maths Inside project aims to draw out some of the mathematics used in the research both to highlight how fundamental mathematics is to science, but also to entertain and inform visitors. This year, Maths Inside created factsheets to accompany the stands of: a team of palaeo-detectives who use ratios of isotopes to analyse what had been cooked in excavated shards of cooking pots; researchers looking at the surfaces of leaves and what makes them waterproof; and a third team which looked at the symmetries of normal and mutant snapdragon flowers. The factsheets are available on the Mathematics Promotion Unit website at www.mathspromotion.org.uk.
STAFFING STRUCTURE OF THE SOCIETY
Earlier this year a reorganisation of the Society’s staff took place. The primary need was to reallocate duties previously done by Susan Oakes, who retired at the New Year (but continues to deal with the Society’s Newsletter, working from home), but the opportunity was taken also to address the previously ’flat’ nature of the staff structure, to create opportunity for progression, and to relieve the areas particularly under pressure. The resulting structure allows areas of work to be covered by small groups of staff, providing cover for sickness and holidays.
The full structure, together with the staff in each area and a brief overview of the activities covered, is as follows:
Executive Secretary’s office: Peter Cooper (Executive Secretary), Leanne Marshall (PA). Oversight of the administration, strategy and financial planning, personnel.
Publishing: Susan Hezlet (Publisher), Ola Törnkvist (Managing Editor), Ben Holmes (Assistant Editor), Phyllis Acheampong (Administrative Assistant). Bulletin, Journal, Proceedings, Journal of Topology, LMS JCM, Compositio Mathematica and Mathematika; Publications Committee, Editorial Advisors’ Group, negotiations with publishing partners, Newsletter production.
Society and Grants Group: Isabelle Robinson (Group Head), Sylvia Daly (Grants Administrator), Lorraine Rowley (Secretary), Riaz Ahmad (Short-course Facilitator). Membership, Society meetings, Programme Committee and its grant schemes, Research Meetings Committee and EPSRC–LMS short courses, Durham Symposia, DMH IT and website.
Council and Committees Group: Martin Smith (Group Head), Caroline Davis (Mathematics Policy and Promotion Officer), Antony Bastiani (Administrative Officer). Council, Finance & General Purposes Committee, Nominating Committee, Research Policy Committee and LMS policy submissions, International Affairs Committee, Women in Mathematics Committee, Computer Science Committee, Education Committee, Popular Lectures, Prizes Committee (including joint awards), Library Committee, Mathematics Policy Unit, CMS Secretariat.
Conferences and Building Group: Dominic Clark (Group Head), Lee-Anne Parker (Receptionist & Facilities Coordinator), Angela Waidson (Facilities Administrator). DMH Conference Facilities, office services, reception and switchboard, building services, Health and Safety, liaison with tenants.
Accounts Officer: Ephrem Belay.
Careful watchers of the Newsletter will note that we are now starting our seventh year of colour. Inspiration from the fruit bowl at De Morgan House has long expired (fortunately the fruits themselves are occasionally refreshed), and readers may like to conjecture the current governing principle. However, all this could change: the Editorial Board is pleased to announce that from the January issue the General Editor will be Tony Mann. Readers will know that up to now Tony has been doing splendid work as Reviews Editor, and we are delighted that he has agreed to take on the central role, launching the Newsletter into the next decade. We congratulate him on this appointment and wish him well in the new position.
After the move, the Newsletter will have a vacancy for Reviews Editor. This will be somebody with a range of interests and contacts in areas of interaction of mathematics with other disciplines: history, art, theatre, film and so on, as it is books (exhibitions, plays, films, etc.) of this kind that the Newsletter mainly reviews, leaving mainstream mathematics texts to the Bulletin. If you would like to suggest a possible candidate, not excluding yourself, please get in touch.
Turning to current matters, this month we carry a response from David Steinsaltz to the piece in the June Newsletter by David Hand about responsibility for the use or misuse of mathematical models. This exchange raises interesting and important questions for applications of mathematics: should theorems come with a risk assessment and instructions for use? If you have views on this issue do let us know.