Message from the President, January 1, 2011
It is for me a great pleasure to address all EMS members, and other possible readers, at the beginning of my responsibility as President. With a history of twenty years, our Society has set up solid roots, reached its maturity and achieved a significant level of influence. All this could not have been possible without the wise vision, the strong leadership and the intensive efforts of all my honourable predecessors. And I should not forget the very many people who have devoted part of their time working on the different committees and
cooperating on numerous activities. Thanks to their generous collaboration, the EMS has established itself as the leading society for the promotion, development and dissemination of mathematics within Europe.
I could not start talking about projects for the future without mentioning and taking into consideration the last message from the Past-President, Ari Laptev. His extensive account of the state of the Society makes us all aware of the great diversity and extent of the objectives achieved during his term of office, the suitability of the strategies in the approaches, and the variety and importance of the ongoing projects.
The standing EMS committees are working with a thoroughly designed roadmap and are covering a wide range of topics of interest. There are however some important questions which have been less considered and that, in my view, deserve our more intensive attention. For example: mathematical publications in general, some crucial aspects of mathematical education, and the coordination between mathematical research and industrial mathematics.
Let me be more explicit. The editorial activity developed by the EMS Publishing House has reached a significant level of expansion and consolidation. This has placed us in good position to be partners in the discussion, elaboration and adoption of good practices under the leadership of the IMU. Moreover, according to the mission statement of the EMS Publishing House, we should endeavour to make its publications available, under sustainable conditions, to less favoured communities of mathematicians.
In the field of mathematical education, the EMS must support and be a partner in experiences and initiatives aimed to promote the mathematical talent of young students, to build on their fascination with the subject and to attract them to the discipline. We must not forget to convey the message of utility to other sciences and its crucial role in very many scientific and technological innovations. It is my belief that a strong involvement of the EMS could give to such already existing activities a very beneficial trans-national dimension and a broader scope. Increasing attraction for mathematics and improving its education is crucial to maintain European scientific leadership and the scientific excellence of mathematics in Europe.
The final document of the ESF-EMS Forward Look project Mathematics and Industry, which has been published recently, assesses the rôle of mathematics as an essential factor in industrial creation and therefore, as one of the ingredients needed to increase Europe’s competitiveness. Among the strategic objectives mentioned in this document are: to foster a European network in applied mathematics towards a smart economy, to facilitate the mobility and to encourage the exchange of knowledge between industry and academia, and to
promote and improve the career path in industrial mathematics. I would like the EMS to be a very active part in the design of actions to achieve objectives along these lines.
These three issues -publications, education and coordination with industrial mathematics- require us to set up suitable structures to facilitate their analysis and also to make possible their coordination with committees.
One of the foundational objectives of EMS was to set itself up as the European partner in mathematics for the EU, and this has already been achieved. Nowadays, the EMS is representing mathematics at European political and scientific forums. However, the organisation chart for scientific policy decision making and its further implementation has become more and more complex with the evolution and enlargement of the European Union. In order not to miss opportunities of communication and lobbying, we have just appointed a Group of Relations with European Institutions consisting of Jean Pierre Bourguignon, Pavel Exner, Ari Laptev, Luc Lemaire, Mario Primicerio and myself. The aim of the group is to keep our community informed of developments and opportunities, to open doors within the EU and to design efficient strategies which could eventually capitalise on the leadership of the EMS to obtain large-scale funding from EU. Our immediate task will be to elaborate a position paper for the 8th Framework Programme with the objective of convincing policy makers to acknowledge and specifically mention mathematics in the calls of this next Programme.
With about 60 member societies in Europe and more than 2500 individual members, the EMS has established itself as the leading society for the promotion, development and dissemination of mathematics within Europe, and for service to European mathematicians. This is all good news. But we must pursue actively the recruitment of new members, and this is one of my important goals.
With the political evolution of Europe, we are witnessing emergent mathematical societies, led by a young generation of mathematicians with ambitious and solid plans. These communities need our support to develop soundly. The EMS will make every possible effort to help them with the process of reaching their maturity.
I would also like to increase cooperation with more learned and professional societies, both European and non-European, in order to reinforce the relationship between different scientific communities and work on projects of common interest. I have already started very promising contacts with the Bernoulli Society for Mathematical Statistics and Probability and also with the Latin American Society UMALCA, with the aim of establishing reciprocity agreements.
We must not neglect actions towards keeping the very positive trend on the increasing number of individual members. For this, we plan to focus on an active policy of dissemination of the EMS objectives, its ongoing projects, its available infrastructure and achievements. We shall design publicity mechanisms and establish a more direct and personal contact with European mathematicians. We also plan to analyse the membership map of the Society to detect the communities where our presence is still scarce and eventually to improve the situation. Communication between the EMS and its full members has benefited a lot from the annual meetings with Presidents of national mathematical societies. I shall continue with this tradition and I can already announce that the next one will be held on May 7-8, 2011, hosted by the Royal Spanish Mathematical Society. National societies are the natural partners for extending the visibility of the EMS and for recruiting new members. Finally, we would like to give a more visible rôle and specific tasks to the whole body of individual members and the delegates of societies at the Council.
There is a part of the mathematical community that deserves special attention, this is the young mathematicians. We should help them to start their professional lives and to find the most appropriate job. There is a specific project that we would like to develop. This is a European Math-Jobs-Site, a virtual fair where employers and potential employees could meet. This could also be complemented by a Math-Jobs fair being held at large scientific events, like the European Congresses of Mathematics. We are already seeking funds for this project and if we are successful, this will provide a useful service not only to the young community of mathematicians but also to mathematics departments, institutes and research centres.
Let me end this letter by saying that it is a great honour for me to devote my efforts to these and other related challenges, and that I am most grateful for the confidence you have expressed by giving me your vote. I also feel very privileged to have the support of a team consisting of such distinguished mathematicians and devoted people with deep vision and stature. I am indeed fortunate to be able to count on their continuing support and collaboration as an essential foundation as I begin to preside over the EMS for the next four years.
Ari Laptev has conducted the EMS with an extremely positive, integrating, creative and lucid style, calling the tune firmly and vigorously, heading ambitious goals. By taking over from him, I am very well aware of the impossibility of matching his incommensurable activity, devotion and energy. But, as if we were in a relay race, I take the baton from him, with deep indebtedness, great enthusiasm and the strong commitment to work for the mathematical community and to keep the EMS at the service of the best interests of our discipline.