EMS and SIAM Plan Joint Activities

September 23, 1999


Rolf Jeltsch, an applied mathematician at ETH Zürich, sees in his election as EMS president an indication that EMS intends to become more active in applied mathematics. With that prospect in mind, he says, he looks forward to many joint EMS-SIAM activities.
Rolf Jeltsch

I am very happy to have this opportunity to introduce the European Mathematical Society to SIAM members. At ICIAM 99 in Edinburgh, Gil Strang and Jim Crowley of SIAM met with Heinz Engl (chair of the Applications of Mathematics Committee of EMS) and me (EMS president in 1999-2002) to discuss cooperation between our societies. One of the possibilities we considered is a joint conference in Europe. For EMS, this would be the first major conference in applied mathematics. We also discussed the introduction of an EMS/SIAM lecture series in applied mathematics, similar to a series EMS is already running on a biannual basis.

This article, and a similar column being prepared for the EMS Newsletter by SIAM president Gil Strang to introduce SIAM to EMS members, mark the real beginning of our cooperation. Founded in 1990, EMS is a rather young organisation, far younger than SIAM. Being young means that most things do not yet run along well-established paths. This might be seen as a disadvantage, but it also has a positive aspect, namely lots of room for new initiatives.

With more than 50 corporations and societies---international, national, and regional---as members, in addition to approximately 2000 individual members, EMS embraces Europe as a continent and all of mathematics, pure and applied. Nevertheless, you might not yet have heard much about EMS---despite its strong presence in pure mathematics, it has not been very prominent in applied mathematics. That is beginning to change, however.

Demonstrating its awareness of the increasing importance of applied mathematics, EMS elected me, an applied mathematician, as its third president (following Friedrich Hirzebruch and Jean-Pierre Bourguignon). One of my main aims will be to strengthen EMS's activities in applied mathematics. For this reason I am very happy that SIAM is willing to undertake cooperative activities with the EMS.

What Does EMS Want To Do?
EMS was founded to further the development of all aspects of mathematics, from research in pure and applied mathematics through applications in industry, science, and engineering. It is also concerned with problems in mathematical education and is working to help improve relations between the mathematics community and the general public. In all these endeavours, EMS is seeking to strengthen a feeling of a European identity among mathematicians. It is already clear that, both within the European Union and outside Europe, EMS has become the European partner in mathematics.

How Will EMS Achieve its Goals?
More than ever, researchers need access to the latest results as quickly as possible. EMS has created an electronic information system, EMIS (European Mathematical Information Service, http://www.emis.de), which is available at no charge to anyone interested. For quick access, almost 40 mirror sites have been installed worldwide. EMIS already contains an extensive electronic library, and we are working hard to include even more journals.

One of the most important tools available for finding research results is the review journal Zentralblatt. Its electronic version, Zentralblatt MATH, can be accessed via the EMIS Web site, from which a user can obtain a free list of three articles written by specific authors. Readers are encouraged to visit the site to see the new features added a few weeks ago. EMS has started to transform the Zentralblatt MATH into a truly European venture, and a large new grant from the European Union will be used to make Zentralblatt MATH even more attractive.

Our Web site also includes an electronic conference calendar, to which readers are encouraged to submit information. Another tool, ACM (Agenda des conférences mathématiques), automatically searches the Web and collects information from seminar announcements in all areas of mathematics. If, for example, you happen to be flying into Paris and you want to know whether there is a lecture on a topic you are interested in, just go to this Web site. This tool is a gift from two French societies, SMF and SMAI.

A newly launched project, a system for searching and retrieving preprints, will give users early access to publications. If you want more information and would like to participate in the system, visit MPRESS on our Web site.

Among EMS's scientific activities, all geared toward the emergence of a common identity among European mathematicians, is the European Mathematical Congress, which is held every four years. The third---3ecm---will be held in Barcelona, July 10-14, 2000. One already established tradition is the presentation of 10 prizes recognizing work in all fields of mathematics to young European researchers during the opening ceremony. Jacques-Louis Lions chairs the prize committee. Plans for a new prize, the Felix Klein prize, have been initiated by Helmut Neunzert (one of the recipients of the SIAM-sponsored Pioneer Prize, awarded at ICIAM 99). The new prize is to be awarded to a young scientist (normally under the age of 38) for use of sophisticated methods to solve a concrete industrial problem to the industry's satisfaction.

Each year, EMS organises two European Summer Schools, one in pure and the other in applied mathematics. This year's applied summer school was held at Heidelberg and neighbouring universities. The subject was "Numerical Simulation of Flows." The topics of the EMS summer schools for 2000, each to consist of a mixture of lectures in pure and applied mathematics, are: (1) "New Analytic and Geometric Methods in Inverse Problems," July 24-August 3, Edinburgh, organised by Erkki Somersalo; and (2) the EMS-Saint-Flour International Summer School in Probability Theory, organised by Pierre Bernard.

With the aim of building bridges between mathematics and society at large, EMS conducts conferences of another type, called the Diderot Mathematical Forum. This forum includes technical lectures as well as round-table discussions with journalists, government officials and policy makers. Previous topics of the two-day events have been "Mathematics and Finance," "Mathematics and the Environment" (problems related to water), and "Mathematics as a Force in Cultural Evolution." Reflecting the European dimension, the Diderot Forum takes place simultaneously in three European cities. The next Diderot Forum, "Mathematics and Music," will be held in Lisbon, Paris, and Vienna, December 3-4, 1999. Future topics, including "Mathematics and Telecommunications," "Mathematics and Risk," and "Mathematics and Medicine," are in the early planning stages. I can also well imagine a forum called "Mathematics and Industry."

A brief survey of our other activities: The first issue of the Journal of the European Mathematical Society, JEMS, which covers all fields of mathematics, appeared in January 1999. In the EMS lecture series, leading mathematicians deliver one-week courses every other year at three different European institutions. Finally, EMS provides support for mathematicians from Eastern Europe to attend conferences.

Let me close by mentioning another Europe-wide project of EMS. Initiated at the request of the European Commissioner for Science, the project aims to establish reference levels in mathematics education for 16-year-old students. In later phases, similar studies will be carried out for 18-year-old students and for those who have completed two years of university education.

I hope this brief introduction has whetted your appetite for more information about EMS, which can by found at our Web site and in our Newsletter, which appears four times a year. If you are a member of one of our corporate societies, you can become an individual member at the reduced fee of 15 Euro; otherwise, the individual membership fee is 60 Euro. I am convinced that SIAM and EMS are embarking on what will be a fruitful cooperation.

Rolf Jeltsch is a professor of mathematics at ETH Zürich.


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