J.L. Lions, President of IMU
This is the second issue of the Newsletter for WMY 2 000. It is specially devoted to developing countries, in connection with the third scope of the Declaration of Rio de Janeiro.
The Newsletter Number 1 has been widely disseminated thanks to the efforts of all the National Committees for IMU, of international organizations such as ICTP, AMU, EMS, AMS and others, and local and individual initiatives.
Many of you have shown interest in its proposals ; ideas are circulating, suggestions are on the way and even constructive criticisms have been made. We thank you for your help and cooperation.
Some initiatives are published in this issue. We shall report on many others in Number 3, which is scheduled at the end of this year, after the International congress of Mathematicians in Zürich.
by A.O. Kuku
President of AMU (African Mathematical Union)
In many developing countries, African countries in particular, the mathematical research scientists are gradually becoming endangered species for obvious reasons, and unless something is done to arrest the situation, the year 2000 and beyond will witness little or no mathematical research activities in these areas of the world. The WMY 2000 can be instrumental in drawing the attention of the International Community to the various problems and co-operate with the local community towards their alleviation.
The aims and objectives of the network - which has currently fifteen members - are the following:
The preliminary programme consists of visits by young African researchers to members of the network. During the first year of the programme, the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) has supported the travelling expenses of young mathematicians while the Association of African Universities (AAU) has supported the local expenses of the researchers at their host Universities.
The long term programme, outlined below, will commence as soon as we find funds to execute any part of it.
The prices of imported texts at the tertiary level are becoming prohibitive in African countries because of frequent devaluation of the currencies in these countries. So, neither the students nor the teachers nor sometimes the libraries can afford to buy them. Thus, as soon as the AMU is able to mobilize enough funds, we shall organize writing workshops for our membership to produce text books across linguistic and geo-political barriers. It is our strong belief that producing books locally will reduce costs as well as make the texts more relevant to the needs and background of African students.
The AMU is currently exploring ways of co-operating with Organisa-tions/Individuals who are interested in getting mathematics journals/books across to African Institutions. We like to seize this opportunity to appeal to Professional Organizations like the AMS, CMS, LMS.MAA, etc, publishing journals/books to donate journals/ books to members of the network. We also like to appeal to reputable publishers of journals/books to donate some and /or sell some at highly reduced rates.
We are aware of the dire need for electronic mail all over the continent to reduce the isolation problems of African Mathematicians and we are joining forces with other scientific organizations within and outside Africa to put pressure on our various Governments and tertiary Insti-tutions to make this a reality. We do hope that by the year 2000, all tertiary Institutions in Africa will have e-mail.
Many third world countries are, at the moment so overwhelmed by their debt burdens that it is absolutely impossible for them to find financial resources necessary to make meaningful progress in the direction of mathematics, science and technology.
There is currently a mounting pressure on the creditor nations to write off a lot of these debts. While it is indeed desirable to write off quite a lot of these debts for various reasons, it is also desirable to ensure that the money that these countries would otherwise have used to service debts is spent on concrete developmental projects. The International Scientific Community should spearhead a Debt-for-Science campaign whereby Third world countries that show evidence of willingness to use its debt-servicing funds to further the progress of mathematics, science and technology would have such debts written off.
This way, the creditor countries will be contributing to global development of mathematics, science and technology without giving new loans. The Third world countries involved will also be able to make scientific progress without much pain. It should not be too difficult for WMY 2000 to co-operate with other scientific organisations like ICSU, TWAS, UNESCO, to promote an effective campaign, and succeed.
by J.F. Jaulent, BMI director
Bordeauxthèque is a documentation service for mathematicians and computer scientists working in French speaking universities. It is supported by the BMI (Research Library for Mathematics and Computer Science of Bordeaux).
This service has been growing extensively since its foundation in 1988 by J.L. Joly, and now concerns over forty African universities. As a result of its success it has obtained the support of CIRUISEF and CIMPA which will cover most of its expenditure in the future.
Operating a modern research library requires a big investment and continuous expenditure. So in spite of the fact that, especially in mathematics, up to date documentation is of outmost importance, this documentation is often non available even to active mathematics departments, because of financial reasons. The aim of Bordeauxthèque is to help the researchers of countries lacking proper bibliographical resources, by offering them access to scientific literature at no cost in a simple, regular and efficient way. To do this, Bordeauxthèque relies on the remarquable wealth of the BMI.
The documentation service Bordeauxthèque produces two volumes a year, each consisting of 250 pages of summaries of about 60 periodicals which have been chosen according to the wishes of our correspondents (for consideration, a periodical has to be requested by at least two correspondents). These summaries allow our users to ask us photocopies of recent papers, which are then made by our staff and sent to our correspondents free of charge Each request must be checked by the head of the correspondent's department in order to avoid sending the paper twice. For this, some request forms are sent with the two volumes of the summaries.
Bordeauxthèque also publishes on a regular basis two lists : a list of fundamental books covering the main topics of mathematics ; and a list of titles recently acquired by the BMI. This keeps researchers informed on the ressources available in Bordeaux. Moreover our users acknowledge with pleasure that our library's staff is always ready to answer any queries concerning addresses of journals, references, and so on...
The three volumes published by Bordeauxthèque in 1988, 1989 and 1990 have been distributed to some 70 French speaking universities (essentially in Africa). Each subsequent issue has been updated with more summaries at the request of our correspondents : the two biannual volumes produced since 1991 consist of the summaries of about 60 journals. The number of photocopies sent by the service has steadily increased since its creation, as follows:
For instance, in 1991, some 668 requests from 153 researchers have been answered, each request amounting to an average of 13 copies. Of these requests 517 concerned very recent summaries.
From the first six years of activity, it appears that Bordeauxthèque has been a success and has proven that there is a real need for such a service. Of course it is clear that there is room for improvement in its perfomances. For instance, starting 1994, we will be able to collect by scanner the information on the summaries we publish. Our publications will be available on electronic support. However one has to keep in mind that most of our correspondents do not have access to electronic mail ...
To conclude we shall mention that Bordeauxthèque runs on a budget of about 70.000FF. Even though this amount only represents between 5 and 10 % of the library's total expenditure, it allows the BMI to count among its users more out -of -town researchers than mathematicians working in Bordeaux.
by P. Bérard, Secretary of the CDE
The CDE (Commission on Development and Exchange of the International Mathematical Union) currently runs two programmes in order to promote mathematical research in developing countries.
The first programme offers partial travel support to mathematicians from developing countries who make an extended research visit in an advanced mathematical center ; it also applies to mathematicians from advanced countries who make an extended research visit in a mathematical center in a developing country. It is required that the host center commits itself to bearing the local expenses.
The second programme offers (limited) financial support to conferences of regional interest organized in developing countries.
The CDE has also begun to identify research teams of high quality in developing countries and to offer support on a three year basis (two teams have been supported so far).
Although CDE could address itself to a limited number of needs required in the development of Mathematics, it seems to us that CDE's support to Mathematics in the Third World is important both for its psychological and practical impact.
The CDE benefits from IMU funds, from grants awarded by ICSU and UNESCO as well as from donations by some mathematical societies. CDE's actions need continuity in order to be meaningful and hence a reasonable level of regular funding. WMY 2000 should be a unique opportunity to achieve this goal. Using the dynamics of WMY 2000 and the help of all the organizations already supporting CDE - especially UNESCO - a Trust Fund, which would ensure the financial stability of CDE, should be raised.
For more information on CDE actions or to make donations in support of CDE programmes, please write to: the Secretary of CDE, Professor P. Bérard
by P. Bérard
The Executive Committee of the European Mathematical Society has recently set up a sub-committee on developing countries, under the chairmanship of Professor Pierre Bérard (Grenoble, France).
This sub-committee will make proposals towards collaboration with developing countries that seem more appropriate in the European framework. One such proposal would be to facilitate access to scientific information in the spirit of Bordeauxthèque (see this Newsletter).
UNESCO will renew in 1995, as part of the CDE activities, its help to developing countries. Further developments are under study.
A proposal, supported by the Société Mathématique de France and the Société de Mathématiques Appliquées et Industrielles, to edit for the year 2 000 four or six stamps with the effigy of French mathematicians has been submitted to La Poste in order to illustrate, on the French side, the World Mathematical Year 2 000. We hope that such an initiative could be taken in other countries all over the world.
Many libraries, and individuals, all around the world, have asked for copies of the Newsletter Nb. 1. We thank you very much for your interest, and we shall add your demand to our mailing list. But we would like to ask you, when-ever possible, to first apply to the National Committee or the Learned Society in your country, in order to avoid a too huge centralization of demands. Besides, some National Committees have offered to translate the Newsletter ; this also could help to circulate ideas and initiatives!
We hope many mathematical Societies will relay the Declaration of Rio de Janeiro.
We shall mention all the initiatives all over the world in the forthcoming Newsletter.
This Newsletter, sent to all the National Committees and National Adhering Organizations of IMU, can be reproduced and we hope it will be widely spread.