Some New Directions for an Increasingly International SIAMSeptember 15, 1998
The SIAM Council and Board of Trustees held a joint meeting at the annual meeting in Toronto; this was only the second time these groups have met together. As president and chair of the Board of Trustees, we give a report of that meeting.
SIAM provides its members with an array of excellent activities, including conferences and workshops, book and journal programs, government and public affairs efforts, opportunities for students, and awards for professional excellence. Both the Council and the Board of Trustees have responsibility for oversight of SIAM activities, the Council focusing on scientific content and policy and the Board of Trustees on finances and management, taking into account the policies and objectives of the society. Most of SIAM's activities are reviewed by both the Council and the Board of Trustees separately, but joint planning sessions can be very productive. At the session in Toronto, the discussion focused on two topics.
The first topic, the role of SIAM as an international organization, is very timely. A third of our membership now comes from outside the United States, and the proportion has been growing steadily in the last decade. We need to ask, then, how SIAM should adapt to this changing membership. Clearly, SIAM should strive for international participation on its editorial boards, at its meetings, and on its Board and Council.
Are there other opportunities? The answer is surely yes. The Council and Board discussed several. A concrete proposal is that SIAM News, with the help of alert and enthusiastic contributors all over the world, carry more international articles. An exciting opportunity is the formation of SIAM sections outside the U.S. One of them, the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland (UKIE) Section, held its first scientific meeting in January 1997; an East Asia section has just been formed (see page 8 in this issue). These sections can work collaboratively with existing regional scientific organizations to most effectively serve our community. In this area, the goal is to serve and represent our international membership across the globe with preeminent, high-quality activities. In this regard, we welcome readers' suggestions for more activities. As indicated in the sidebar, readers can make suggestions on the SIAM Web site at http://www.siam.org.
Computational science and engineering (CS&E) was the second topic discussed at the joint Board-Council meeting. In a membership survey we conducted several years ago, it was already evident that computation, together with mathematics, is a unifying theme that spans the SIAM membership. With this in mind, the Council and Board agreed that we will work to: (1) strengthen SIAM's leadership in core areas of CS&E; and (2) embrace all aspects of CS&E. This is a commitment to include a broader scope of activities within SIAM.
While mathematics remains the unifying language of the natural sciences and engineering, we recognize that computation has become a very important means of enhancing the impact of mathematics. In many (if not most) applications, CS&E plays a significant role. To represent this extensive activity, SIAM will incorporate CS&E to a greater extent into its programs.
Reflecting this commitment, we are planning the following changes: Coverage of computational science and engineering will improve at our meetings. Sponsorship of a general meeting that spans the breadth of CS&E is being explored. In addition, a newly established working subgroup of the SIAM Education Committee will be charged to serve as a source of information and advice. Information on CS&E curricula will be collected and disseminated, and undergraduate and graduate texts will be sought for publication by SIAM. The goal is to adequately reflect our members' interest and strengths in CS&E.---John Guckenheimer, SIAM President, and Joyce McLaughlin, Chair of the SIAM Board of Trustees.
. . . And a Global SIAM News
With SIAM members numerous enough in at least two parts of the world---the UK and Ireland, and East Asia---to form sections of SIAM, SIAM has become a truly international organization. SIAM News, always seeking to represent the membership, would like to hear more from readers outside the U.S.
Featured in this issue is an article on a conference held to mark a historic event in the UK; SIAM News encourages readers everywhere to take a cue from Nicholas Higham and David Silvester and contribute articles on events, people, and developments in applied mathematics and computational science that readers might not learn about otherwise.
Contributions and ideas can be directed to SIAM executive director James M. Crowley (firstname.lastname@example.org) or to the editor of SIAM News (email@example.com); suggestions can also be made from SIAM's Web site (http://www.siam.org). All ideas will be enthusiastically received!