Message from the President, 1 January 2020

Dear EMS members, dear friends,

With the EMS turning 30 and the ‘golden twenties’ just about to start, we are looking forward to a decade that will undoubtedly see tremendous changes and trials. I call upon the whole mathematical community to join us in tackling these challenges head-on.

The European Congress of Mathematics (8ECM, July 5-11, 2020, Portorož, Slovenia) is approaching, with its accompanying EMS council meeting. These, and many other upcoming events, will provide opportunities to meet and discuss how to move the European mathematical community into the future.

With artificial intelligence and machine learning now entering everyday life at high velocity, it is essential that Mathematics contributes to the wider understanding of these inherently mathematical techniques, including discouraging their use when a high risk of failure (or disaster) can be anticipated. The EMS and its members must take some responsibility in this regard.

Unfortunately, research funding for Mathematics has declined in many parts of Europe, including at the ERC. This is partly our own fault, by not applying for enough grants, and by not stressing to decision makers at every level that research funding for Mathematics is of central importance to the well-being of society as a whole, and to the flourishing of both disciplinary and interdisciplinary progress. I call upon the whole community to become more active here.

Another major focus is the sustainable and open availability of the results of mathematical research. The new EMS Publishing House together with publishing houses of member and sister societies is committed to address this issue by investigating new open access publishing models that follow the basic principles:

  • The quality of publications is paramount and beyond compromise.
  • Publications shall be accessible and available in perpetuity.
  • Pricing models shall be transparent and fair.
  • The publishing house serves the mathematics community, and commits surplus funds to community initiatives.
  • The publishing house commits to collaborative relationships with other stakeholders within the mathematics community.

A first milestone on this road is the recently announced open access availability of Zentralblatt Math from 2021.

It is heartening to see that the number of EMS members, both individual and corporate, continues to grow. Thus, the EMS’s financial position is improving, allowing us to fund more events such as summer schools and conferences. We are striving to ensure that the decision-making process in the distribution of funds is as transparent as possible, and to guarantee equal opportunities, regardless of mathematical field, gender, geography, or age. It is an important goal of the coming decade to continue this trend and to increase, in particular, the numbers of young members and female members, giving them greater representation within the society. At the forthcoming council in Bled we will discuss several moves in this direction, including the formation of an EMS young academy.

As usual, this year we will renew the membership of several committees and elect new members of the executive committee, as well as a new vice president. I call upon EMS members to nominate good candidates to represent all areas of mathematics and the whole continent.

Let me thank all departing and continuing committee members for their hard work in the past year. Let me also thank those who work for the mathematical community more widely – on the boards of mathematical journals and research centres, on meeting and prize committees, and in many other ways.

I wish all of you good health and a lot of interesting mathematics in 2020.

Volker Mehrmann

EMS President