A Thriving SIAP Sharpens, Expands Its Mission

January 1, 2005

With record numbers of authors submitting papers to SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, editor-in-chief Pam Cook reviews the journal's mission and sets out criteria for a good SIAP paper. "We encourage the community to send their best papers to SIAP," she says.

Pam Cook

As the direct descendant of SIAM's first journal, SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics is almost as old as SIAM. Interest in the journal continues unabated, however. In fact, the number of papers submitted to SIAP has increased substantially in the last few years: 330 papers were submitted in 2003, up from an average of roughly 250 over the previous four years, and the number of submissions for the first three quarters of 2004 represents a 30% increase over the 2003 figure.

Given these auspicious numbers, the SIAP editorial board considers this a good time to emphasize to the SIAM community the aims and goals and, as described below, the somewhat expanded scope of the journal. Our hope is to increase readership by encouraging members of the community to submit appropriate, high-quality papers. At the same time, we want to spare authors the time and trouble of submitting papers that, regardless of their quality, are not appropriate for SIAP.

SIAP is a broadly based journal, read by individuals with a wide variety of backgrounds. SIAM executive director James Crowley believes that "SIAP is and should remain a premier journal" for industrial and applied mathematicians. "Based on the feedback we get," he says, "SIAP is a valuable resource and outlet for scientists with strong application-oriented interests in applied mathematics."

SIAP aims to publish papers that reflect both the exciting advances and the diversity of applied mathematics. The editorial board looks for papers that will compel all of us in the community to pick up and read the journal regularly. Excellence in applied mathematics requires both interesting real-world problems and interesting mathematics, and these criteria apply to SIAP papers as well.

A SIAP paper clearly presents the physical problem to be solved and its mathematical formulation; it informs readers up front as to the type of mathematics and the solution techniques used to solve the problem. A SIAP author considers the same questions as an effective colloquium speaker addressing a general audience: What is the problem? Why bother to solve it? What solution methods are used to tackle it? In addition, a paper should include a well-written conclusion that ties the mathematical results back to the physical problem.

Generally, at least the first three or four pages and the conclusions should be understandable to a broad applied math/engineering readership. SIAP authors cannot assume that all readers will be well acquainted with their areas. Readers of a paper on inverse problems for CT scans, for example, may well include specialists in fluid mechanics or bioinformatics---people who are not familiar with the intrinsic needs or difficulties of imaging.

The SIAP editorial board looks for papers of no more than 20 pages that direct approximately equal attention to the application, the model, and the analytical or numerical solution. In very special circumstances, papers longer (or far shorter) than 20 pages can be accepted, although it is safe to say that SIAP is not the correct venue for a 40-page paper. Papers concerned primarily with analytical constructions or numerical solutions are not appropriate for SIAP; the authors of such papers might want to consider SIAM Journal on Mathematical Analysis, SIAM Journal on Numerical Analysis, or SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing.

Historically, SIAP has published papers in the traditional areas of applied mathematics (e.g., fluid mechanics, acoustics, scattering). The editorial board is now interested in enlarging the coverage of the journal and invites papers in broader areas. Examples of new areas include complex fluids and soft matter, materials science, environmental science (ocean and atmospheric science, porous media), financial mathematics, and a growing list of areas in the life and medical sciences (including genomics and bioinformatics, epidemiology, immunology, systems biology, biochemical networks). SIAP should be viewed as a home for papers from all application areas in which creative mathematics has played a central role in leading the authors to the conclusions of the papers.

Pam Cook, who has been editor-in-chief of SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics since 2002, is a professor of mathematics at the University of Delaware.

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