Make Your Voice Heard!

October 21, 2008

In San Diego to receive the 2007 SIAM Award in the Mathematical Contest in Modeling for their solution to that year’s continuous problem were (from left) Daniel Kane, Andrew Spann, and Daniel Gulotta (the MIT “dream team” of faculty adviser Martin Bazant). The problem, a good fit for this “election” issue of SIAM News, concerned gerrymandering, and the students titled their winning solution paper “Electoral Redistricting with Moment of Inertia and Diminishing Halves Models.”

Talk of the Society
James Crowley

If you follow politics, you'll recognize the standard acronym GOTV---Get Out The Vote. Local political organizations, hoping to guarantee the success of their candidates, work hard to ensure that the party faithful go to the polls.
At SIAM we engage in no such grassroots efforts for our annual elections. Instead, we rely on SIAM News and e-mail to get the word out to members, encouraging them to vote. To some degree, the strategy works. Still, at its meeting this summer, the SIAM Board of Trustees was appalled to realize that in a typical SIAM election, only about 20% of eligible voting members bother to cast their votes. The percentage of members interested in selecting their representatives to the Council and the Board of Trustees should be higher, the Board believes.

This year more than ever, Board members feel, it is important for members to vote. Along with the choice of three Board and four Council members, voters will decide this fall on a very important issue: whether to create a fellows program. If, as a voting member, you think that this is "a done deal," that the Council and Board have already decided to establish a fellows program, let me assure you that this is not the case. The Council and Board have taken no position whatsoever on the issue, indicating only that it should be decided by the voting membership. On behalf of the Board and Council, I encourage all to vote in the fall election.

This issue of SIAM News, by the way, marks both our fall election and this November's "lengthy . . . costly . . . bizarre" U.S. presidential election with a selection of articles on voting and the mathematical sciences. Phil Davis (the source of the quoted adjectives) reviews a new book on voting methods, and Jim Case joins in with a detailed look at a few newly proposed methods, also in a book review. For readers who didn't make it to San Diego for the 2008 Annual Meeting, Michelle Sipics reports on a minisymposium talk that captured her interest--research on a "voting" method for deciding the fate of news stories submitted to a popular Web site.

Prizes Open for Nomination
In a similar vein, SIAM encourages the community at large (and here SIAM membership is not a requirement) to nominate deserving individuals for SIAM prizes; lists prizes with open calls for nominations). This is an opportunity to bring excellent unsung work to our attention and to help ensure that we recognize deserving individuals with our prizes.

Math in Industry
For an update of the 1995 SIAM Mathematics in Industry report, we are conducting a new study. The original report was based on extensive surveys of recent PhD recipients working in industry, along with onsite interviews conducted at many companies that employ mathematical and computational scientists. For the update, we will use similar methodology to look at changes in the years since 1995. The new report will reflect a more global perspective, and a greater focus on innovation, particularly at small companies.

Joint Math Meetings 2009
For several years SIAM has been an active participant in the Joint Math Meetings. Next year's meetings, scheduled for Washington, DC, January 5–8, 2009, will feature several SIAM sessions, an invited speaker and an array of minisymposia. Kenneth M. Golden of the University of Utah, the invited speaker, will give a talk titled "Mathematics of Sea Ice to Help Predict Climate Change"; several SIAM minisymposia will complement the talk.

SIAM appoints an organizing committee to develop this program. Thanks to Mary Lou Zeeman for leading the effort for the 2009 meetings, and to committee members Marie-Carme Calderer and Mike Albertson. The SIAM Education Committee, chaired by SIAM vice president for education Bill Briggs, also organizes sessions for the Joint Meetings, with the focus on professional development and career choices for students.

SIAM has a major conference of its own coming up in the late winter--the SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering, scheduled for March 2–6, 2009, in Miami. SIAG/CS&E has grown; with more than 1000 members, it is the largest activity group within SIAM, and the conference has expanded as well. Themes of the 2009 program include petascale computing, multiscale and multiphysics computations, data mining, and simulation-based engineering science.

Looking at CS&E from another perspective, we are assessing the extent to which our publications meet the needs of people working in the field. Along with lively discussions at Council and Board meetings, SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing has taken a leading role, with a special issue on CS&E (Volume 30, Number 6) just posted to the SISC Web site. The 26 papers in the issue can be seen as a slice of CS&E. The primary aim of the authors, according to editor-in-chief Ulrich Rüde, is not "to achieve new results for a given domain science, but rather to provide new computational tools to researchers. Even though these tools are regularly developed to address challenging problems in specific domain sciences, they are generally transferable to other applications."

For continuing discussions of this issue, the Council and Board seek ideas, suggestions, and comments from people interested in the field of CS&E. I can forward your comments to Council or Board members ( A better approach is for you to contact your Council and Board members directly (; they, along with the officers of SIAG/CS&E---John Bell, Tammy Kolda, Carol Woodward, and Kirk Jordan---are eager to hear your opinions and ideas. And with that, we circle back to the beginning of the column: You have the opportunity to elect the people who will represent you. Please vote!

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