New Frontiers for SIAM in 2001

January 9, 2001

Talk of the Society
Thomas Manteuffel and James Crowley

With the new year, it is time to welcome the recently elected members of the SIAM Council and Board of Trustees. Equally important, it is time to express our gratitude to the board and council members who are stepping down. We have a terrific group of senior leaders who have served the SIAM community well. Special thanks are due to Gil Strang, who did a superb job as president over the past two years. He brought to the position enormous ener-gy and a gift for saying just the right thing.

We welcome Max Gunzburger and Paul Van Dooren, who were elected by the membership this fall to the SIAM Board of Trustees, and Anne Greenbaum and Henk van der Vorst, newly elected to the SIAM Council. The following people were re-elected in the fall voting: Joyce McLaughlin (board) and John Lewis and Jamie Sethian (council).

Thanks are due to all who ran for office. SIAM has been blessed with outstanding leaders from the community, as clearly demonstrated by the fall slate of candidates. The global nature of SIAM became more apparent than ever in this election---we now have representation from the European continent on both the board and the council---along with our UK representatives already on the council.

We wish to thank Chris Jones and Bob Plemmons for their work as members of the board during the past three years. Both freely donated their scarce time and valuable ideas to serve the SIAM community. We also thank Paul Boggs and Suzanne Lenhart, who each completed six years of service on the SIAM Council---the maxi-mum allowable. We will miss all of them at future meetings, and on behalf of the membership express our sincere appreciation for all they have done for SIAM.

Another transition that will already be obvious to alert readers is the authorship of this column. During the last two years, Gil Strang wrote a column for every issue of SIAM News. As past-president, Gil will continue to be intimately involved in SIAM activities, especially as the new chair of the Committee on Science Policy, but he has bequeathed this column to us. We hope to continue the wonderful tradition established by Gil and provide up-to-date information on a wide variety of topics. Like Gil, we welcome suggestions and comments from readers ( or

Several items from the December meeting of the SIAM Board of Trustees merit mention here. First, the board approved the president's recommendation that two vice presidents---Terry Herdman (education) and Mac Hyman (publications)---be asked to continue for another term.

Another significant item from the board meeting: approval of the first new SIAM journal in more than ten years. The new journal, in dynamical systems, will be completely electronic. The intent is to create a publication that will take full advantage of the Internet, making use of color, video, and graphics while maintaining the high standards for research quality set by the existing journals. Marty Golubitsky and John Guckenheimer are spearheading this effort, which will include both a peer-reviewed electronic journal and a Web portal. If successful, this could become the model for future SIAM publications.

The SIAM Activity Group on Computational Science and Engineering was approved by the board and council and is off to a strong start under the leadership of recently appointed chair Steve Ashby. The September CSE conference in Washington, DC, attracted 434 participants, produced 50 new SIAM members, and demonstrated the wide support for activities in this area.

The intent of the new activity group is to foster collaboration and interaction among applied mathematicians, computer scientists, domain scientists, and engineers working on the development and use of computational technologies for the solution of important problems in science and engineering. Among the group's goals is to help establish CSE as an academic discipline, and simulation as a peer of theory and experiment in the process of scientific discovery. The group's projects include a biannual conference and a Web-based newsletter.

Another topic of discussion at the board meeting was the proposed National Science Foundation initiative in mathematics. This initiative has received public support from the NSF director, Rita Colwell, and has been included in the budget request for FY 2002. Despite the many positive endorsements, strong support from the community is needed to make this initiative a success. We feel that it is important for the SIAM leadership, with the support of the membership, to help justify this initiative. We can accomplish this by providing examples that demonstrate the importance of mathematics to the national science and technology infrastructure, along with evidence that the chain providing mathematical tools and training to the national scientific community is in need of repair. Readers who believe that they can contribute to this effort are urged to contact us.

The NSF initiative is a unique opportunity for SIAM. As a result of the recent restructuring of the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics, the three societies can no longer conveniently address such a situation with a single voice. The SIAM community is well suited to provide justification for this initiative. How well we respond to this challenge will be a measure of the readiness of our community to stand alone as a discipline.

Thomas Manteuffel of the University of Colorado, Boulder (, began a two-year term as SIAM president on January 1. James Crowley ( is the executive director of SIAM.

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