International Mathematical Union

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International Mathematical Union (IMU)
Seat Weierstrass Institute for Applied Analysis and Stochastics
founding 1920

place IMU Secretariat, Hausvogteiplatz 11A, 10117 Berlin , Germany
president Carlos Kenig
Secretary General Helge Holden
Board Vice Presidents: Nalini Joshi , Loyiso G. Nongxa ; Past-President: Shigefumi Mori , Treasurer: Alexander Mielke ; other members: Luigi Ambrosio , Andrei Okounkov , Paolo Piccione , RT Ramadas , Gang Tian , Günter M. Ziegler
Website [1]

The International Mathematical Union (IMU) is an international non-governmental organization that promotes international cooperation in the field of mathematics . The IMU was founded in 1920. She is a member of the International Council for Science (ICSU) and has been a co-organizer of the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) since 1962 . Its members are national mathematical organizations in around 90 countries. As the umbrella organization of all mathematical societies, the IMU promotes international cooperation in this field, deals with questions of mathematical education, supports the establishment of the infrastructure for education and research in developing countries, organizes the world congresses of the mathematical community and awards prizes for outstanding mathematical research results, u. a. the Fields Medals , the “Nobel Prize in Mathematics”, which are awarded at the ICM.

Berlin was chosen as the seat in 2010 , at the Weierstrass Institute for Applied Analysis and Stochastics . Previously, the headquarters wandered from country to country with the elected Secretary General.

Initially, the internationality of the society was heavily overshadowed by the endeavors, especially by France after the First World War, to exclude German and Austrian mathematicians from the IMU and the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM). Special mention did thereby Émile Picard , 1919-1936 President of the International Research Council, emerged from the the IMU, and from 1929 to 1931 honorary president of the IMU. For example, Denmark refused to join the IMU at the instigation of Harald Bohr . It was not until 1928 that Salvatore Pincherle succeeded in overcoming these nationalistic tendencies at the ICM in Bologna, which he organized , but not in the IMU itself. The decisive factor was the negative attitude of British ( Godfrey Harold Hardy ) and American mathematicians towards the French . Because of these quarrels, the IMU practically ceased to exist in 1932, was officially dissolved in 1936 (despite efforts by its last President William Henry Young to save it) and was only re-established after the Second World War (1951). The first conference took place in Rome in 1952. The mistakes of the time after the First World War were not repeated, also because Americans now set the tone, especially Marshall Stone , who organized the first ICM at Harvard in 1950 . An exclusion of states was no longer possible according to the new statutes, which were passed in New York in 1950. French mathematicians also took a different stance at the time, especially Henri Cartan , who established close ties to German mathematicians (especially Heinrich Behnke in Münster) immediately after the Second World War . New problems arose from the East-West conflict and other conflicts such as between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan. In 1982 the ICM in Warsaw was postponed for a year because of the martial law that was then imposed. Because of the restrictive travel policy of the Soviet Union (for example for Jewish mathematicians) there were several conflicts with US representatives in the IMU, for example in the 1970s between Lew Pontryagin and Nathan Jacobson (both vice presidents of the IMU).

Only countries can join as members, provided they have at least four doctorates in maths. These are so-called "Adhering Organizations" z. B. represent mathematical societies, scientific organizations, research institutions. The countries are divided into five classes, with a corresponding number of representatives in the IMU. The contribution rates are also graded accordingly, with class 5 paying the highest contributions. Germany is represented in the IMU by the German Mathematicians Association (DMV). Countries with fewer than four PhD mathematicians can be accepted as associate members. There are also "affiliate members".

IMU prizes awarded at the ICM include the Fields Medal, the Nevanlinna Prize , the Chern Medal , the Carl Friedrich Gauß Prize , the ICM Emmy Noether Lecture and the Leelavati Prize .

Associated with it is the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI).


  • Olli Lehto : Mathematics without borders - a history of the International Mathematical Union . Springer, 1998, ISBN 978-0-387-98358-5 . (Lehto was secretary of the IMU for seven years from 1983)

Individual evidence

  1. IMU Executive Committee 2019-2022
  2. ^ List of the IMU members
  3. On the choice of Berlin as the headquarters of the IMU
  4. ^ Parshall Marshall Stone and the Internationalization of the American Mathematical Research Community , Bulletin AMS, 2009, pdf

Web links