SIAM Greets Decade with New Slate of Officers

January 9, 2010

On November 13, Tony Chan (right) was installed as the third president of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
Talk of the Society
James Crowley

As I write this column, SIAM can look forward to a good year, with an impressive new group of officers and some program enhancements set in motion by the Board of Trustees at its December meeting. And we are already looking ahead to this year's Annual Meeting, which will be held in Pittsburgh, July 12–16.

We had a terrific slate of candidates for the fall election. It is an honor to be selected to run, and we thank all candidates for their willingness to serve. A look at those newly elected shows some interesting trends.

The new president-elect is Nick Trefethen of Oxford University. A professor of numerical analysis and head of Oxford's Numerical Analysis Group, he plans to teach a course at KAUST, followed by a visit to TU Berlin this spring. Doug Arnold's term as SIAM president continues through 2010; Nick transitions from president-elect to president on January 1, 2011.

As of January 1, Lloyd N. (Nick) Trefethen is SIAM president-elect.

We also have a new vice president at large: Nick Higham, of the University of Manchester. (Perhaps you've already spotted one trend, Nick and Nick.)

The Board of Trustees, which elects a chair for the coming year at its annual December meeting, re-elected Iain Duff of Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in December 2009. Trend spotters will notice that three of our top officers---president-elect, vice president at large, and board chair---are all from the U.K.

Also in the fall, the membership elected Pam Cook of the University of Delaware to another term as SIAM secretary. Marsha Berger (running as an incumbent) was re-elected to the Board of Trustees, which also has two newly elected members: Lisa Fauci and Alfio Quarteroni. With two members to appoint this year, the board named Rob Schreiber to one of the two seats reserved for board-appointed members and selected Brenda Dietrich to fill a vacated seat.

Alfio Quarteroni, newly elected member of the SIAM Board of Trustees.

The SIAM Council has 12 at-large members, with four to be elected by the membership each year. In the fall election, Irene Fonseca and Tim Davis were re-elected to second terms; Lawrence Craig Evans and Carol Woodward were newly elected to the council.

Carol Woodward was elected to the SIAM Council in the fall elections.

We begin 2010 with two new appointed vice presidents. Doug Arnold, with the advice and consent of the council and board, named Sven Leyffer vice president for programs and Susanne Brenner vice president for publications. The appointed vice presidents carry out much of the important day-to-day work of SIAM, in this case overseeing conferences (VP for programs) and journals and books (VP for publications). As appointed vice presidents, Leyffer and Brenner become members of the council, which meets every July; they will also report twice a year to the board.

The SIAM officers, both elected and appointed, meet monthly in a teleconference. This is a new practice, introduced by Doug Arnold. The full list of officers and board and council members is posted at

We will miss the special talents and insights, but we hope not ongoing contributions, of all whose terms in SIAM office ended in 2009: board members Suzanne Lenhart and Anna Tsao; past president Cleve Moler and vice president at large David Keyes, both of whom were also ex officio members of the council; Ilse Ipsen and Tim Kelley, vice president for programs and publications, respectively, each also an ex officio member of the council; and council members Michael Heath and Alison Ramage.


A note about extra-SIAM activities of two active SIAM members. Fred Roberts, longtime director of DIMACS, the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science at Rutgers University, wrote to remind us that DIMACS recently celebrated its 20th birthday. As it happens, he is a co-author of a story, beginning on the first page of this issue, about an activity in Africa in which DIMACS---much evolved since its creation in 1989---plays a key role. Also on that page is a hard-to-miss photo from the installation of Tony Chan as president of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. A prominent member of the SIAM imaging sciences community and a former member of the SIAM Board of Trustees, Chan became assistant director of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate at the National Science Foundation in 2006; he left that position last year to assume the HKUST presidency.


An ad hoc committee created to assess the funding of SIAM prizes reported to the board in December. At issue is a viable healthy prize program for SIAM. We have a large and active prize program, although some prize awards have not kept up with inflation. The Wilkinson Prize in Numerical Analysis and Scientific Computing is one example. The cash award of $1000 seemed generous enough in 1979, when the prize was created, that additional travel expenses did not need to be provided; the cash award is still $1000, but SIAM now covers reasonable travel expenses. The board is considering ways to adjust awards carried by other prizes as well.

On the subject of prizes, a highlight of the Annual Meeting is the John von Neumann Lecture, which has a very distinguished history ( One of the early (1971) and very well known von Neumann lecturers, the mathematical economist Paul Samuelson, passed away on December 13. His paper on the lecture, titled "Mathematics of Speculative Price," appeared in SIAM Review in January 1973 (with an appendix by Robert Merton on Black–Scholes warrant pricing).

As mentioned earlier, the 2010 SIAM Annual Meeting will be held this summer in Pittsburgh, where a highlight will be the John von Neumann Lecture by Bernd Sturmfels of the University of California, Berkeley. To the best of my knowledge, Sturmfels is the first algebraic geometer to receive this prestigious prize (the prize committee cites his "outstanding and distinguished contributions to the field of applied mathematical sciences").

Organized by Nick Trefethen and Barbara Keyfitz, the entire 2010 Annual Meeting program promises to be outstanding; the list of invited speakers is posted at The SIAM Activity Group on the Life Sciences will hold its biennial conference in parallel with the SIAM Annual Meeting; it too has a diverse and appealing program (see

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